PERSONATION, in English law, a form of fraud consisting in a false representation by one person (by words or conduct) that he is another person living or dead. It is not an offence by the common law unless the representation is made on oath under circumstances constituting the offence of perjury, or unless the representation if not made on oath is made under circumstances amounting to a common law cheat. Personation has been made an offence by statute in the following cases: (i) where it amounts to a false pretence by words or conduct, and is done with intent to defraud, and property is by such false pretence obtained, 24 & 25 Viet. c. 96 ss. 88-90 (see FALSE PRETENCES); (2) in the case of false and deceitful personation of any person or of the heir, executor, administrator, wife, widow, next of kin or relative of any person with intent fraudulently to obtain any land, estate, chattel, money, valuable security or property (37 & 38 Viet. c. 36 s. i); (3) in the case of personation of votes at elections (see CORRUPT PRACTICES).
The first of these offences is a misdemeanour only; the second is a felony punishable by penal servitude for life. The second offence was created in 1874 in consequence of the Tichborne case, in which under the law as it then stood it had been necessary to prosecute the claimant for perjury. Besides the enactments above referred to there are also a number of provisions for dealing with the personation of sailors, soldiers, pensioners and owners of stock in the public funds or shares in joint-stock companies, and of persons who falsely acknowledge in the name of another recognizances, deeds or instruments, before a court or person authorized to take the acknowledgment.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)