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The designation of an individual person or of a firm or corporation. A word or combination of words used to distinguish a person, thing, or class from others.
An individual's name is comprised of a name given at birth, known as the given name or first name, selected by the parents, and the surname or last name, which identifies the family to which he or she belongs. Ordinarily an individual is not properly identified unless he or she is called or described by this given name in addition to the surname. This rule has significance, among other times, when students are designated in school records and when parties are called or referred to in legal proceedings, including Child Custody actions. The general rule is that when identity is certain, a small variance in name, such as that caused by typographical errors, is unimportant.
The method by which an individual can change his or her name is usually prescribed by state statutes and involves filing a certificate in, or making an application to, a court. Whether or not a name change will be granted is ordinarily a matter of judicial discretion.
In recent years, some married women have begun to depart from the traditional practice of taking their husband's surname upon marriage. Instead they retain their birth names, the surnames possessed before marriage. While some states subscribe to the rule that a woman's legal name is her husband's surname, others hold that an individual can be known by whatever name he or she desires as long as such designation is used consistently and in the absence of a fraudulent purpose. A number of states have specifically provided that a wife is not required to use her husband's surname, or that she can use it in her personal life while continuing to use her birth name in her profession.
NAME. One or more words used to distinguish a particular individual, as
Socrates, Benjamin Franklin.
2. The Greeks, as is well known, bore only one name, and it was one of the especial rights of a father to choose the names for his children and to alter them if he pleased. It was customary to give to the eldest son the name of the grandfather on his father's side. The day on which children received their names was the tenth after their birth. The tenth day, called 'denate,' was a festive day, and friends and relatives were invited to take part in a sacrifice and a repast. If in a court of justice proofs could be adduced that a father had held the denate, it was sufficient evidence that be had recognized the child as his own. Smith's Diet. of Greek and Rom. Antiq. h.v.
3. Among the Romans, the division into races, and the subdivision of races into families, caused a great multiplicity of names. They had first the pronomen, which was proper to the person; then the nomen, belonging to his race; a surname or cognomen, designating the family; and sometimes an agnomen, which indicated the branch of that family in which the author has become distinguished. Thus, for example, Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus; Publius is the pronomen; Cornelius, the nomen, designating the name of the race Cornelia; Scipio, the cognomen, or surname of the family; and Africanus, the agnomen, which indicated his exploits.
4. Names are divided into Christian names, as, Benjamin, and surnames, as, Franklin.
5. No man can have more than one Christian name; 1 Ld. Raym. 562; Bac. Ab. Misnomer, A; though two or more names usually kept separate, as John and Peter, may undoubtedly be compounded, so as to form, in contemplation of law, but one. 5 T. R. 195. A letter put between the Christian and surname, as an abbreviation of a part of the Christian name, as, John B. Peterson, is no part of either. 4 Watts' R. 329; 5 John. R. 84; 14 Pet. R. 322; 3 Pet. R. 7; 2 Cowen. 463; Co. Litt. 3 a; 1 Ld. Raym. 562;, Vin. Ab. Misnomer, C 6, pl. 5 and 6: Com. Dig. Indictment, G 1, note u; Willes, R. 654; Bac. Abr. Misnomer and Addition; 3 Chit. Pr. 164 to 173; 1 Young, R. 602. But see 7 Watts & Serg. 406.
5. In general a corporation must contract and sue and be sued by its corporate name; 8 John. R. 295; 14 John. R. 238; 19 John. R. 300; 4 Rand. R. 359; yet a slight alteration in stating the name is unimportant, if there be no possibility of mistaking the identity of the corporation suing. 12 L. R. 444.
6. It sometimes happens that two different sets of partners carry on business in the same social name, and that one of the partners is a member of both firms. When there is a confusion in this respect, the partners of one firm may, in some cases, be made responsible for the debts of another. Baker v. Charlton, Peake's N. P. Cas. 80; 3 Mart. N. S. 39; 7 East. 210; 2 Bouv. Inst. n. 1477.
7. It is said that in devises if the name be mistaken, if it appear the testator meant a particular corporation, the devise will be good; a devise to "the inhabitants of the south parish," may be enjoyed by the inhabitants of the first parish. 3 Pick. R. 232; 6 S. & R. 11; see also Hob. 33; 6 Co. 65; 2 Cowen, R, 778.
8. As to names which have the same sound, see Bac. Ab. Misnomer, A; 7 Serg & Rawle, 479; Hammond's Analysis of Pleading, 89; 10 East. R. 83; and article Idem Sonans.
9. As to the effect of using those which have the same derivation, see 2 Roll. Ab. 135; 1 W. C. C. R. 285; 1 Chit. Cr. Law 108. For the effect of changing one name, see 1 Rop. Leg. 102; 3 M. & S. 453 Com. Dig. G 1, note x.
10. As to the omission or mistake of the name of a legatee, see 1 Rop. Leg. 132, 147; 1 Supp. to Ves. Jr. 81, 82; 6 Ves. 42; 1 P. Wms. 425; Jacob's R. 464. As to the effect of mistakes in the names of persons in pleading, see Steph. Pl. 319. Vide, generally, 13 Vin. Ab. 13; 15 Vin. Ab. 595; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.; Roper on Leg. Index, b. t; 8 Com: Dig., 814; 3 Mis. R. 144; 4 McCord, 487; 5 Halst. 230; 3 Mis. R. 227; 1 Pick. 388; Merl. Rep. mot Nom; and article Misnomer.
11. When a person uses a name in making a contract under seal, he will not be permitted to say that it is not his name; as, if he sign and seal a bond "A and B," (being his own and his partner's name,) and he had no authority from his partner to make such a deed, he cannot deny that his name is A. & B. 1 Raym. 2; 1 Salk. 214. And if a man describes himself in the body of a deed by the name of James and signs it John, he cannot, on being sued by the latter name, plead that his name is James. 3 Taunt. 505; Cro. Eliz. 897, n. a. Vide 3 P. & D. 271; 11 Ad. & L. 594.