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“It is well settled that at common law a person may change his name at will, without resort to legal proceedings, by merely adopting another name, provided that this is done for an honest purpose.” from Merolevitz, Petitioner, 320 Mass. 448 (1946).

Today, the law that gives jurisdiction to the Probate and Family Court to hear petitions for name changes is M.G.L. c. 210, § 12.  “Massachusetts Law About Name Changes” provides links to information that will explain the process, with forms.

The act that first established the procedure for name changes in Probate Court was way back in the nineteenth century: St. 1851, c. 256, § 1.

Prior to 1851, people who wanted to officially change their names could petition the Legislature. A List of Persons whose names have been changed in Massachusetts, 1780-1891 is available online or in print at the Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries.

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