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Titles and Names

Titles and Names
Speaking to and of titled persons

Titles and Names

The matter of proper title use is more a question of etiquette, or as the Haut Ton, would say, "good breeding," than law. The members of the gentry and aristocracy were usually taught proper usage from the cradle.

They would know that there was little difference in how one addressed a baronet and a knight. Neither was a lord, though their wives were ladies; neither was a peer, and neither was entitled to sit in the House of Lords. Those called Sir are not peers.

Baronets (Sir Thomas Bertram) have hereditary honors but are not peers. A baronet's title will go to the oldest legitimate son.

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.

Laura 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 titles.

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 preferred form.


Titles and Names
Speaking to and of titled persons


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