A knight (Sir William Lucas) is one who is awarded the title
of Sir for some accomplishment. Sir Frances Drake. It is a dignity
which dies with the holder. Neither a baronet nor a knight is
a peer. They can sit in the House of Commons. Their wives are
called Lady, though the wives of knights were sometimes called
Dame, which is now the equivalent of a knighthood for women. Dame
Barbara Cartland. During the Regency period, most wives of baronets
and knights preferred to be called Lady Surname.
The spoken form for knights and baronets is the same.
It is only in writing that a distinction is made by the addition
of bt.or bart. after the name for baronet, or the initials of
the knighthood for the knights. The form for knights and baronets
is Sir Thomas Bertram . Neither is ever Sir Bertram, Neither is
ever Lord Bertram or Lord Thomas. The sons are Mr. Bertram and
Mr. Edmund Bertram. His wife is Lady Bertram.
If a younger son of a Duke-- Lord Fitzroy Somerset, for instance , is granted a knighthood, he continues to be called Lord Fitzroy Somerset but adds the initials K.B. or G.C. B. after his name. His wife remains Lady Fitzroy Somerset.
If The Honble. Edward Walker is granted a knighthood, he becomes The Honble. Sir Edward Walker. His wife becomes Lady Walker instead of The Honble. Mrs. Edward Walker.
England does not have Counts, and the courts of Europe do not
have Lords and Ladies.
Because the titles of the UK still exist today in much the same
form as they did in the Regency, books are available to teach
the correct usage.
Ann Wallace's web page on British Titles of Nobility
A book such as Titles and Forms of Addresses: A Guide to
Correct Use published by A & C Black is invaluable.
One need not even buy a new edition. Do not depend on American
etiquette books, not even old ones, as some of them mangle the
There may be slight differences of opinions among these, but
none of any substance.
In 1810, there were 17 dukes, 12 marquesses, 94 earls, 23 viscounts,
138 barons in the peerage of England and Great Britain. There
were also peers of Ireland and Scotland. These did not have an
automatic right to a seat in the House of Lords. The ranks of
the peerage are, from highest rank to lowest:
Duke, marquess, earl, viscount, baron ( not used in conversation
or address, either of speech or on letters.)
Their WIVES are: Duchess, Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess,
baroness ( not used in conversation or in addressing the woman,
either in person or on letters.)
Some peerages and other books spell Marquess as Marquis. The
early Debrett I have, uses Marquis. [Do not add an extra 'e'.]
However, somewhere along the line, those who bore the title, decided
that Marquess was the more English form and it has become the
to and of titled persons