South Scotland

Legal dispute over Pringle of Stichill baronetcy

Cessford Castle Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The family can trace their lineage back to at least to William Pringle, constable of Cessford Castle in the 15th century

Two members of a Borders family are fighting over the rights to a baronetcy in one of the most unusual legal disputes seen in a British court.

Murray Pringle, 74, and his cousin Simon Pringle, 56, both lay claim to the baronetcy of Pringle of Stichill.

The Queen has asked senior judges to make decisions on the dispute under laws dating back more than 150 years.

Seven judges are analysing evidence at a hearing of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Judges have been told that Charles II granted the baronetcy of Stichill, a village near Kelso, to Robert Pringle of Stichill - and the "male heirs from his body" - on 5 January, 1683.

The 10th Baronet, Sir Steuart Pringle, a retired Royal Marine commander who survived an IRA bomb attack, died in 2013 aged 84, judges have heard.

Image copyright Richard Webb
Image caption Robert Pringle was awarded the baronetcy of the village of Stichill in 1683

Now his son Simon, and Murray - his second cousin - disagree over who should claim the title.

Lawyers for Murray Pringle, said Simon, should not become the 11th Baronet because there has been a "break in the line of paternity".

They say tests have shown that Sir Steuart's DNA "did not match that of the Pringle lineage".

James Guthrie QC, for Murray, suggested that the problem had arisen following the death of the 8th Baronet, Sir Norman Pringle, in 1919.

He said Sir Norman and wife Florence had three sons: Norman, Ronald - Murray's father - and James.

In 1920 Florence had made a formal "statutory declaration" stating Norman was the eldest son of the 8th Baronet and was entitled to succeed to the Baronetcy.

'Family gossip'

But Murray, an accountant from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, argued that the 8th Baronet was not Norman's father.

And he claimed that, as Ronald's son, he is the rightful successor to the Baronetcy.

Mr Guthrie told judges that there had been "family gossip" and "tongues wagging". But he said did not want to "make aspersions" against any Baronet or any "ladies".

Simon, a businessman who lives near Hastings, East Sussex, disputes Murray's claim.

The hearing began on Wednesday and is expected to end on Thursday.

The judges, who are all Supreme Court justices, are not expected to publish a ruling until next year.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites