Baronet’s son loses “name and arms case”

The England & Wales Court of Appeal has ruled that a baronet’s failure to adopt the ancestral family name within a certain period of time did not disqualify him from inheriting the family castle.

The background to this case is Corby Castle in north Cumbria.   Sir John Howard-Lawson inherited Corby Castle in 1962 and sold it for £2.5m in 1994.  Corby Castle had been the family seat for around four hundred years.

His own son Philip Howard later demanded around £1.5m from the sale proceeds.  Philip’s argument was that his father had not complied with the archaic terms of a will executed by his great-grandfather Philip John Canning Howard.  In particular he argued that his father did not change his surname to “Howard” and adopt the family coat of arms within the deadline referred to in the will.  A deadline of one year had been included in the will.  Such “name and arms clauses” were traditionally used by the landed classes to keep the family name and arms linked to the estate.

The Court of Appeal held that as his father had at least applied to use the family surname and coat of arms before the deadline, he had complied sufficiently with the will’s terms.   The College of Arms had not granted his father these rights until after the one year deadline.   Interestingly a court had decided in 1961 that Sir John’s father, William, had not met the deadline imposed by Philip John Canning Howard.

Philip Howard lost his case in the England and Wales High Court and now the appeal too.  It is reported that he intends to take this matter to the Supreme Court.

The case report can be found here.

A report from the STEP journal can also be found here.

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