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DNA results can change royally-granted titles

In Britain, a baronetcy is (essentially) a knighthood that can be inherited.  In the case of the baronetcy of Stichill (also, called the “Pringle Baronetcy“, granted by Charles II in 1683) , inheritance by “male heirs from his body” of the previous baronet.

But what if a baronet is the baronet … but comes from what can gently characterize as an indiscretion by the wife of a previous baronet?  That is the case for Stichill: the 8th baronet’s heir wasn’t his son, but the result of his wife’s adultery.  The 8th baronet died in 1919, and that “cuckoo in the nest” became the 9th baronet, who begat the 10th baronet (a very distinguished Royal Marine) who became  the baronet in 1961 died in 2013, and whose son faced a legal challenge from his relative, a descendant of another son of the 8th baronet.   Simply put, DNA showed that the 9th baronet was not a “male heir of the body” of the 8th baronet, but the claimant (an accountant by the name of Murray Pringle) was.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided that the blood relative claimant was the true baronet.  DNA evidence triumphed over 97 years of adultery-induced error.    The man who would have been the 11th Baronet handled it with remarkable dignity and decency: his statement (found in the BBC article) is admirable.

As noted in the Herald article, this could open up some other aristocratic lines to challenge.  Theoretically, the finding of an illegitimacy claimant anywhere along a mandatory bloodline could transfer a title to a person proven by DNA to be of that bloodline, and by evidence to be the closest heir.

Colby Cosh: “A forgotten court ends the tale of the two baronets” [National Post]

“Pringle of Stichill baronetcy battle won by accountant” [BBC]

“Scottish baronetcy victory ‘could have far-reaching implications'” The Herald, Scotland

 

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