The Prince and the Pauper – Chapter Seventeen – Fun Fact

You’ve seen this scene in countless movies: a character needs, for whatever reason, to change their identity. Maybe they are in witness protection. Maybe they are fleeing from something or someone dangerous. Maybe they have multiple identities in order to commit crimes. The most important step in the process for any of those examples is today’s Fun Fact for Ch. 16…


Keep reading or watch the video more information about what it takes to change your name.

Reference in The Prince and the Pauper

“‘I have done a murder, and may not tarry at home—neither shalt thou, seeing I need thy service. My name is changed, for wise reasons; it is Hobbs—John Hobbs; thine is Jack—charge thy memory accordingly. ‘” (p. 102)

This is a part of a speech by John Canty from when he is reunited with “Tom” (actually Edward). He reveals that in order to protect himself (and “Tom”) he has decided to change their names. If you recall, the reason they fled from Offal Court was because John Canty had murdered a priest.

How to Legally Change Your Name

  1. Fill out a name change form, an order to show cause for legally changing your name, and a decree to legally change your name.
  2. Take these forms to the court clerk and file them along with your state’s required filing fees.
  3. In most cases, a judge will review your forms and grant the name change.
  4. Some states require a more formal advertisement before you use your new name, which is done simply by posting a notice in the local newspaper.
  5. Use your new name.

Rules for a Legal Name Change

You can’t…

  • change your name to hide criminal liability
  • change your name to commit a crime
  • change your name to mislead
  • choose a name including numerals or punctuation
  • choose a name that intimidates, offends, is obscene, or is a racial slur

Can You Erase Your Identity?

  • Essentially….no
  • You can legally change your…
    • Name
    • Social Security number (in some circumstances)
  • Your original information will still be in the system
  • The government will do it for you if…
    • you are a victim of abuse
    • you are a victim of identity theft
  • Most online services to change identity are scams

Myths about Identity Change

  • Myth #1: You get a new set of documents
    • Old documents still exist; just get updated
  • Myth #2: You can start over with a clean slate
    • You lose your credit history, certifications, degrees, etc. if you change your SSN
  • Myth #3: Your name change is confidential
    • Most states require some form of official public notice

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