DNA test adds up to baronetcy for High Wycombe accountant

Murray Pringle, a retired accountant from Buckinghamshire is set to become a baronet, following the first ever challenge to a hereditary title to be based on the findings of a DNA sample, which established that he rather than one of his cousins is the rightful heir to the  Baronetcy of Stichill in the Scottish borders

Pringle, from High Wycombe, launched a claim to the hereditary baronetcy established more than 300 years ago, after DNA samples provided for a family genealogy project unexpectedly indicated that the 10th baronet was not the biological heir to the bloodline.

The 10th baronet was Steuart Pringle (Sir Steuart), whose son would normally be expected to inherit the baronetcy following his death in 2013. His sample showed that his own father, Sir Norman Hamilton Pringle, the 9th Baronet, had been illegitimate.

This disclosure confirmed suspicions that Sir Norman had been the secret love child of an affair between his mother and another man weeks before her wedding in 1902 to the baronet.

Both Sir Steuart’s son, Simon Pringle, a businessman from Hastings, and Murray Pringle then registered competing claims to the Baronetcy of Stichill. The issue was referred to the judicial committee of the Privy Council by the Queen in order to establish which should be entered on the Official Roll of the Baronetage.

Seven judges had to  decide whether Murray Pringle was correct in claiming that he is the legitimate successor to the Baronetcy of Stichill, which was granted in 1683 by King Charles II to Robert Pringle of Stichill ‘ac heredibus masculis de suo corpore’, a Latin phrase translating as ‘and his male heirs from his body’.

Simon Pringle’s lawyers did not challenge the DNA but argued that it was inadmissible because of the passage of time, a view that was dismissed by the judges.

Simon Pringle said, in a statement released through his solicitor that he had no complaints about the decision.

‘I want to congratulate Murray for winning the verdict and express the hope that he and his successors will wear the title as honourably as my father,’ he said.

DNA evidence has not previously been used to sort out disagreements over hereditary titles, and the judges in this case said that the technology opened up the possibility of a number of other challenges. 

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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