Peerage

Scotland was amalgamated with the English Sovereignty in 1603 and in 1707 the British countries were amalgamated with their parliaments. In Ireland the country was ruled by Henry II and amalgamation with the parliaments did not take place until late 1800. Henry VIII was the first to substitute the title of King for ‘Lord of Ireland’. King George III at his death left seven sons, the first four being George IV, Duke of York, William IV and the Duke of Kent. The Duke of Kent, who died six days before his father, was the first to leave offspring: Princess Victoria, who became Queen.

Eldest sons of Dukes, Marquesses and Earls take as a general rule the second titles of their respective fathers, for nearly all the higher Peers possess at least two. Courtesy-titles can be bestowed upon a grandson who is the eldest son of the heir, but never upon any collateral relative. The younger sons of Dukes and Marquesses take the name ‘Lord’, while the younger sons of Earls and all sons of Viscounts and Barons are known as ’The Honourable’. The offspring of the younger sons of all Peers and of all Viscounts and Barons are known as ‘Esquire’. The daughters of Dukes, Marquesses and Earls take the prefix ‘The Lady’, while those of Viscounts and Barons take ‘Honourable’ like the sons. No grandchildren of Viscounts or Barons can bear any title.

The wife of a Peer takes the feminine of his title, a Baroness being ‘The Right Hon. Lady’. The wife of a Peer’s oldest son (bearing title) will also do so unless her previous rank was higher than his; if he is ‘Hon.’ then she becomes ‘the Hon. Mrs’. The wife of a Baronet or Knight is ‘Lady’ unless she is the daughter of a Peer, when she may be ‘The Lady Anne’, ‘The Hon. Lady’ etc.

Every Baronet created since 1783 is required to register his pedigree. In 1612 five new privileges were granted, including the right of a Baronet to claim knighthood and for his eldest son (following feudal custom) to do the same. King James at the outset knighted all his heirs apparent, a custom which was revived in 1835, 1865 and 1874. The recipients of the purchased dignity were to be limited in number, ‘of good birth and fortune’, possessed of not less than £1000 per annum clear and in the case of war were to occupy posts of honour near to the royal standard. Nearly one-sixth of the Baronets of 1905 were Peers, six being Dukes. The ‘Standing Council of the Baronetage’ at the time aimed to vindicate the claims of the Baronetage, “clear it of all resemblance to Knighthood” and protect the rank against spurious assumptions (this relating to the issue and position of Life Barons).

In England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Baronets created 1611 to 1707 were ranked ‘Baronets of England’; from 1707 to 1800 as ‘Baronets of Great Britain’; and after 1800 as ‘Baronets of the United Kingdom’. The English degree was instituted by James I in 1611 and required a sufficient payment from each of the 200 gentlemen to maintain 30 foot-soldiers at 8p a day for three years. This totalled about £1095 and was payable a year in advance. King James’ successors did not limit the numbers and by the reign of Charles II the number had increased to 888. By 1905 the number had reduced by about 100.

 

[source: "Whitaker’s Peerage for the year of 1905, A Directory of Titled Persons", London, J Whitaker & Sons Ltd]


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