Should A Parent Be Able To Name Their Child Anything?


A mother who named her twins ‘Preacher’ and ‘Cyanide’ (a deadly chemical) appealed against an injunction preventing her from doing so.

Shortly after their birth in May 2015, the twins were made the subject of interim care orders and were placed in foster care pending the formulation of a long-term plan.


The High Court in deciding this case held that the responsibility of choosing a child’s name remained that of the parent(s). However, where the parents abuse their power to select a bizarre or foolish forename for their children, which would make it likely that the child would suffer harm, the court could sanction use of the name.


In this case, the name ‘Preacher’ was thought to be not objectionable and the court concluded that the potential benefit of boy having the name chosen by his mother outweighed the possible detriment. Furthermore, as preacher is a respectable member of society, such a name would hardly cause much alarm to a child.


On the other hand the name ‘Cyanide’ gave the court reason to believe that the girl would likely suffer significant harm if she were to be burdened with that forename. If the child were later to enquire about the origin of her name, she would learn that her mother had wanted to name her after a poison.