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Change of Name

Good morning,

I'm having difficulties to find out the reason behind a name change back in the 1850's.

Was this a common practice?
Did it have to go through legal processess? If so whom
My GG Grandfather George T C Merritt changed not only his name but the whole family to John Church born 1816 of Bishops Waltham.
He was then found in Somerleyton, Suffolk (Name change to Church) If you can help with some advise it would fantastic

Many thanks Phil

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