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DNA Claims to Baronetcy

Genetic evidence and a judicial committee have come down in favor of Murray Pringle's claim to a Scottish baronetcy, the Guardian reports.

The dispute between Murray Pringle and Simon Robert Pringle, the son of the 10th baronet, over the baronetcy of Stichill arose after DNA was collected from the 10th baronet that indicated that he was not actually part of the male Pringle line.

Instead, it's been suggested that the 8th baronet was not the father of the 9th baronet. Because of this break in the line of paternity, Murray Pringle has argued that he is the rightful heir as he is descended from the second son of the 8th baronet.

The baronetcy of Stichill was granted to Robert Pringle and the "male heirs from his body" in 1683, and as the Guardian notes, heirs to a baronetcy must provide evidence of their relationship to the deceased baronet.

This disputed claim between Murray Pringle and Simon Robert Pringle was referred to the judicial committee of the privy council. It found that the DNA evidence indicated to "a high degree of probability" that the 9th baronet was not the son of the 8th baronet, bolstering Murray Pringle's claim to the baronetcy. The committee also says there as no legal ground for excluding such genetic evidence.

The committee notes that the use of genetic evidence in inheritance disputes could have a number of ramifications, the Guardian reports. "DNA evidence [can] reopen a family succession many generations into the past," the committee writes. "Whether this is a good thing and whether legal measures are needed to protect property transactions in the past, the rights of the perceived beneficiary of a trust of property, and the long established expectations of a family, are questions for others to consider."