Sunday, 30 January 2011

Changing names

Thomas Mapother, William Adams, Marion Morrison, Reginald Dwight, and Henry Deutschendorf. Can you match them to the stage names Elton John, Will.i.am, Bob Hope, Tom Cruise, John Wayne, John Denver, and what is the one missing?

People in the entertainment industry don't usually go out of their way to hide their original name. Anything for publicity.

Others change name for convenience, sometime literally. William Redfield (1789 - 1857), founding President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, took the middle initial C, which he said stood for Convenience, to distinguish him from two namesakes.

More commonly people get tired of explaining or spelling a name unusual in the country to which they migrated. Perhaps the name given at birth falls into disrepute, like Adolf.  They change name as a condition of inheritance, and then sometime change it back.   Others do so to evade a shady past. Repeat criminals trail a string of aliases.

In Britain a name can be changed simply by starting to use the new one. There is also a formal legal procedure, change of name by deed poll. A Microsoft Word document on the HM Courts Service website (not accessible when I tried it) describing the process is here. The total cost quoted is £64.43, mostly for advertising. The most recent London Gazette notice I found, on 21 January 2011, was: former name Ryan Connor Maximilian TOWNSEND changed to Ryan Connor Maximilian TOWNSEND-COPE. 


To find such an announcement from the past search the London Gazette archive, or Edinburgh or Belfast Gazettes as appropriate. You may also find such notices in newspapers, notably the Times of London.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A few women marrying into my mother's family have changed the pronunciation of the last name in order to make it more agreeable; "Bustard,"(name of a bird)has been pronounced with the accent on the last syllable and the family declared to be originally from France.
Also, despite Health cards in Ontario, Canada, having numbers and letters, it is good to have a middle initial to solidify your identity.

Paul Jones said...

My favourite celebrity name change--a Canadian to boot: Michael A. Fox to, yes, Michael J. Fox. Maybe he hated the name Andrew.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this online publication and bringing this matter to my attention.

I know Ryan Townsend very well and I know the family and I am stunned by what I have read. This man, Mr Nicholas Allan Cope of Shrewsbury has no say in the mater relating to Ryan’s given name.

At no point in time was he ever married to, engaged to or cohabited with the child’s mother. Ryan was born in to another mans family and paternity was not established until after he was two years of age and the Townsend marriage was in tatters. Mr Cope is the accidental father of this child who was the product of an immoral and clandestine relationship. Ordinarily the biological father of a child in the UK is able to make an application to the courts to obtain parental responsibility. This was denied to Mr cope in the UK family courts on 9th March 2000 as was direct contact. There is now a Prohibitive Steps Order in place denying Mr Cope any contact directly or indirectly with Ryan Townsend.
The publication of Ryan Townsend’s name change was therefore illegal and any documentation required to do so was fraudulent. The use of the word “we” in his statement implies consent by the mother and I can categorically state without a shadow of doubt that neither Ryan nor his mother would consent to this change nor were they aware of it until now. I am sure you would appreciate that this matter will now be brought to the attention of the courts that are currently dealing with Ryan’s Case.