A legal fight over the historic baronetcy of Stichill, a village near Kelso, in the Scottish Borders has been won by an accountant from High Wycombe.
In 2013 the 10th baronet, Sir Steuart Pringle, died aged 84. Following his death there was a disagreement over who should claim the title between Sir Steuart’s son Simon Pringle, 57, from Hastings and Simon Pringle’s second cousin Murray Pringle, 75, an accountant from High Wycombe.
In 2009 Murray Pringle set up a research project with a view to reviving the lost chieftainship of the clan Pringle, a title which was last used in 1738.
The DNA sample showed that the 9th Baronet, Sir Norman Hamilton Pringle, had been illegitimate proving conclusively that Sir Steuart was not in the male line of succession at all.
A lengthy legal battle followed under both Scottish and English law to determine who would be considered as the next in line to the title granted to the First Baronet of Stichill, Robert Pringle, and the ‘male heirs from his body‘ by Charles II in 1683.
The case was heard by seven judges at hearings of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London after the Queen had asked for a ruling under a piece of legislation dating back more than 150 years.
Lawyers for Simon Pringle did not challenge the DNA however they argued that it was inadmissible because of the passage of time. Judges hearing the case ruled time was no barrier to such a claim.
Murray Pringle said Simon Pringle should not become the 11th baronet because there had been a ‘break in the line of paternity‘.
In a ruling the Judges concluded that DNA evidence demonstrated to ‘a high degree of probability‘ that Norman was not the son of the 8th baronet and there was no legal ground for excluding DNA evidence. On that basis they had concluded that Simon Pringle was not the male heir of the 1st baronet.
As Murray Pringle was the grandson of the 8th baronet the Judges rules that he was therefore entitled to succeed to the title.