Unrest erupted over the book “Transgender” about a Scottish baronetcy aristocrat, who legalized changed his registered sexual orientation before he succeeded to his brother’s baronetcy.

Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill was Dr. Ewan Forbes, and they announced their marriage in 1952. They had lived as men since the 1930s, but changed their names to become a couple.

Sir Ewan’s brother, Lord Sempill (aviation pioneer) held the Baronetcy at Craigievar, Scotland.  Sir Ewan claimed his title in 1965 when he passed away. It had to be given to the nearest male relative.

This led to three years of legal disputes between Sir Ewan who married his housekeeper and John Forbes-Sempill who claimed the title as he considered himself the male heir.

The Scottish Court of Session had ruled Sir Ewan the male heir. However, the opposition of Mr Forbes-Sempill meant that it was settled by James Callaghan (the then Home Secretary), who agreed in 1968 with the decision of the judge that the doctor should be made the baron.

He was subsequently named the 11th Baronet Forbes of Craigievar and went on to hold the title and the Aberdeenshire family seat – Craigievar Castle – until his death in 1991.

However, Zoe Playdon (an academic) has been criticised over her claim in her latest book, The Hidden Case Ewan Forbes: A Transgender Trial That Threatened to Overthrow the British Establishment that the baron had been transgender.

Professor Playdon claimed in his book that Sir Ewan’s story ‘rocked British society’ and ‘transformed transgender experiences to this day. 

Barrister Barbara Rich, a law lecturer and lawyer, published a series tweets outlining their disagreement with the book. It was published by Bloomsbury in late October.

Rich pointed out the 1967 Scottish case ruling, in which Lord Hunter declared that Sir Ewan was an ‘true hermaphrodite’ where the male sexual traits predominate. This could not be interpreted as meaning that Ewan was transgender.

A row has broken out over a book about a 'transgender' Scottish aristocrat who legally changed his registered sex before succeeding to his brother's baronetcy

Dr. Ewan Forbes-Sempill, who was born Elizabeth in 1912, announced in 1952 that they had changed their name and re-registered their birth as that of a male after living as a man since the 1930s

The book “Transgender” by a Scottish baronetcy aristocrat, which legally altered his registered sex after he succeeded to his brother’s baronetcy has sparked a row. Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill was born in 1952 to Dr. Ewan Forbes. He and his wife re-registered the birth of their son as a male in 1952.

His brother, aviation pioneer Lord Sempill, held the baronetcy of Craigievar in Scotland. When he died in 1965, Sir Ewan made a claim on his title, which had to go to his nearest male relative. The claim led to a three-year legal dispute between Sir Ewan, who went on to marry his female housekeeper, and cousin John Forbes-Sempill, who laid claim to the title because he saw himself as the legitimate male heir. Above: The Forbes family seat of Craigievar Castle, in Aberdeenshire

Sir Ewan’s brother, Lord Sempill (aviation pioneer) held the Baronetcy at Craigievar, Scotland. Sir Ewan claimed his title in 1965 when he was killed. This had to go to his nearest male relative. It led to a legal battle lasting three years between Sir Ewan (who went on to wed his female housekeeper) and John Forbes Sempill, who filed a claim to the title. He claimed that he was the rightful male heir. Above: Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire, the Forbes family seat.

Others also claimed Sir Ewan’s memoirs didn’t mention the transition from being a female man to becoming a male one.

After the 1968 final judgment, Sir Ewan was informed by his solicitor that he believed that a mistake on his birth certificate had occurred.

He explained that Sir Ewan had been born a man and was incorrectly identified as a woman.

In an online statement, Professor Playdon stated that Ewan is trans. He also claimed that his description in court showed that Ewan had long-term testosterone.  

Ms Rich also claimed Professor Playdon’s claim Sir Ewan’s case “threatened” to overthrow the British establishment as ‘utterly inexplicable and high-end speculation.

Academic Zoe Playdon (above) has been criticised for the claim made in her new book

Her book The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes: The Transgender Trial that Threatened to Upend the British Establishment is published by Bloomsbury

Academic Zoe Playdon (left), was criticised for claiming that Ewan Forbes, the British Establishment’s transgender baron, had been made in her latest book The Hidden Case Ewan Forbes.

Barrister Barbara Rich was one of the legal experts to criticise Professor Playdon's claims

Barbara Rich (Barrister) was one of those legal professionals who criticised Professor Playdon’s claims

Law lecturer Scott Wortley also took aim at the claims made in the book

Scott Wortley, a law lecturer, also attacked the claims in the book

She also challenged Professor Playdon’s claims in her book, that Sir Ewan was a ‘hidden case’. Instead she highlighted how extensively the press covered the decision of the Home Secretary.

The Daily Mail reported the result of the case.

Ms. Rich claimed that the court proceedings were held behind closed doors due to the “distressing and invasive nature” of Ewan’s evidence.

Scott Wortley from Scotland, a law professor, stated another expert that the book contained a “number” of errors. Also, he said it displayed a lack awareness about Scottish law and procedures.

The Hon Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill, who had sex change and became Sir Ewan Forbes Sempill 11th Baronet. He was later known as Sir Ewan Forbes of Brux

Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill was a sexchanger and later became Sir Ewan Forbes Sempill 11th baronet. Later, he became Sir Ewan Forbes.

Sir Ewan is seen playing the harp at his Aberdeenshire home before he had changed the sex registered on his birth certificate

Sir Ewan plays the harp in his Aberdeenshire home, before he altered the sexual information on his birth certificate

After changing the sex on his birth certificate, Sir Ewan, married Isabella 'Patty' Mitchell and the couple lived at Brux Lodge in Aberdeenshire

Sir Ewan changed the sex of his birth certificate and married Isabella Patty’ Mitchell. They lived at Brux Lodge, Aberdeenshire.

When he died without children in 1991, he was succeeded by his cousin John – the man who had launched the original legal challenge

When he died without children in 1991, he was succeeded by his cousin John – the man who had launched the original legal challenge

Another tweet was added by him: ‘The book is founded on the principle that correction of the Birth Certificate was done of Right for a Trans Person.

“That wasn’t the case. The sheriff could not correct the registration error unless he was certain of it.

Professor Playdon claimed in her statement, that she had used “language in its normal and natural meaning” to explain the complex interplays between law and medicine to help a broad readership.

Sukey Fisher, a transgender screenwriter is adapting Professor Playdon’s book into a TV drama.

Sir Ewan married Isabella Patty’ Mitchell after changing his sex details on his birth certificate. The couple lived in Brux Lodge, Aberdeenshire.

Sir Ewan was a farmer there and published his memoirs in The Aul’ Day in 1984.

When he died without children in 1991, he was succeeded by his cousin John – the man who had launched the original legal challenge. 

This legal battle led to the 11th Baronet at Craigievar being named for an aristocrat who had been declared female at birth.

Elizabeth Forbes-Sempill, a wealthy doctor from the Aristocratic class quietly registered her male birth in 1952. She also changed her name to Ewan.

One of Dr Sempill’s patients was impressed by his courage in taking that step at the time. 

The matter of his registration became a problem in 1965 after the death of Lord Sempill (10th Baronet of Craigievar). 

Sir Ewan was the one to claim the title of baronet, even though he had been born a woman. 

John Forbes-Sempill his cousin challenged this claim, arguing that the 1952 registration was invalid, and Sir Ewan could not inherit the title. 

Gender re-registration was not possible at the time because “the sex of a baby was unknown at birth” and later it was discovered that “an error had been made”. 

After Sir Ewan won, his solicitor disclosed that this was his claim. According to him, Sir Ewan claimed that he is a male from birth and that his original registration as a woman was wrong.

The Scottish Court of Session heard the case in secret by Judge Lord Hunter. He listened to testimony from several medical experts regarding Sir Ewan’s sexual behavior.

The judge ultimately ruled Sir Ewan a true hermaphrodite, in which the male sexual characteristics dominate.

John Forbes-Sempill, however, continued to contest the case. It wasn’t until December 1968 when James Callaghan, Home Secretary declared Sir Ewan as the rightful holder the baronetcy.