LONDON- Fingerprint records have confirmed that a man who assumed the name of a dead baby and created a bogus identity as an English nobleman is an American who has been missing for more than 20 years, police said Monday.

The man’s ex-wife – who learned of his alias only in recent days – came forward and said she and their two adult children were overwhelmed by the revelations.

Charles Albert Stopford III, a 43-year-old native of Clearwater, Fla., who was arrested in January 2005 and convicted of identity theft, insisted he was born Christopher Edward Buckingham in 1963 and was the Earl of Buckingham, said Detective Sergeant Paul Bratton, of Kent Police.

Throughout a nine-month prison sentence he continued to maintain he was the nobleman, but the Earl of Buckingham title has been extinct for more than 300 years.

Before he left, it was clear that he wanted to break free of his troubles, younger brother Wesley Stopford of Clearwater, Fla., said. “He had said one time that one day he wanted to get away from everything and everybody and just live,” he said.

With help from episodes of British comedies “Benny Hill” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” Stopford managed to make his brothers and sisters smile. In time, he learned to speak with a perfect British accent.

Stopford was arrested in January 2005 as he tried to enter Dover, England, from Calais, France, across the English Channel. Police ran a passport check and saw that the person with his name was supposed to be dead.

He was found guilty of taking the name of a Christopher Buckingham, who died in 1963 at the age of 8 months, and using it to obtain documents to live as a British citizen.

For the past decade he has been calling himself the Earl of Buckingham, a title that has been extinct for more than 300 years.