Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar

1912 - 1991

Transexual who became the focus of a landmark legal case. Born Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill at Fintray House, Aberdeenshire, daughter of John, 18th Lord Sempill. Qualifying in medicine, Forbes-Sempill began practice in Alford and quietly proceeded to change her gender through application to the Sheriff Court in Aberdeen in 1952. Permission was granted for correction of the birth certificate, although the significance of this pioneering decision was probably not realised at the time. A notice appeared in the Aberdeen Press and Journal stating that Elizabeth now wished to be known as Ewan. Some weeks later, Forbes-Sempill married his housekeeper and in 1965 inherited the baronetcy of Forbes of Craigievar following the death of his brother. Following extended legal challenges from a cousin, conducted under a veil of state secrecy, the case went from the Court of Session, in Edinburgh, eventually to the Home Secretary, James Callaghan. Callaghan ruled in favour of Ewan, who duly became Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar in 1968, having dropped the name of Sempill.

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