courtesy of

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Titles and Names

Titles and Names
Speaking to and of titled persons

Speaking To And Of Titled Persons

Royal Prince:

  • Your Royal Highness, at first; thereafter, Sir.
  • His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales,
  • His Royal Highness, the Prince Regent
  • His Royal Highness, The Duke of York.

Royal Princess:

  • Your Royal Highness, at first; thereafter, Ma'am.
  • Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne


  • Your Grace.
  • Duke:
  • His Grace !Never Lord Anything!


  • Your Grace
  • Her Grace
  • Duchess !Never Lady Anything!

The Marquess of Clearwater
He is never Lord Henry Clearwater.

  • Lord Clearwater
  • Henry, Lord Clearwater.
  • Friends would call him, Clearwater
  • People of lower standing: my lord, your lordship

Earl, Viscount, Baron same as above

The wife of a peer takes his title. A Duke's wife is Duchess; a Marquess's wife is a marchioness, but she is usually called Lady Title. The wife of an earl is a countess , but she is usually called Lady Title; the wife of a viscount is a viscountess and is usually just called Lady Title. The wife of a baron is a baroness but she is never called that except in a few archaic places. While one can speak of the Countess of Jersey or The Marchioness of Angelsey, one does not speak of the baroness Byron unless the lady is a baroness in her own right such as Baroness Wentworth.

A peer's surname was his title. He was Devonshire and not Cavendish, the family name. The children used the family name, he went by the title. A peer's signature was his title .. Wellington, Jersey, Rutland, Norwich. They did not use their surnames. They generally did not introduce themselves as "John Johnson, Earl of Marsh," but as "Marsh." He would sign dispatches, letters and other things with just his title- Marsh. His wife would use his title as a surname and sign as E. Melbourne , or Elizabeth Melbourne. Lady Melbourne even sent a letter or two signed with just a Melbourne as her husband did. I was told that this was correct but most of the examples I have seen have the woman signing with her first name or initial and the title.

Do not mix courtesy and peerage titles. If a man is a peer he is never Lord First name anything.

Courtesy Titles

While there are sometimes two men with similar or almost identical titles, this does not happen within the same family. A father and son would not both be Lord Spencer. Though one of the lesser titles of the Duke of Wellington is that of Marquess of Wellington, the heir uses the title of Marquess Douro.

Marquess, earl, viscount, baron are titles of peerage and also courtesy titles. A Courtesy title is a title which one is granted as a boon from anotheri.e. the father. This does not make the holder a peer. A courtesy marquess can sit in the House of Commons. A duke's eldest son and heir is often a marquess, though he can also be an earl, viscount, or baron. The title given to the heir is a lesser title of the peer, usually the next highest peerage he holds. Some peers hold a dozen titles but only the oldest legitimate son could inherit any and he was only given one as a courtesy title. Sometimes, if the son of a duke was grown and married with a son of his own, the duke would give the grandson a lesser title. The duke's son would be a marquess and the grandson would be an earl.

Only eldest sons or their eldest sons could bear courtesy titles. Neither the cousin who is the heir, or the uncle who will succeed if there is no son will have one of the courtesy titles. Such a person would have whatever status and rank he received from his own father or his own efforts.

The eldest son of an earl, marquess, and duke will usually have a courtesy title of baron, viscount, or marquess and will be addressed in the same manner as a peer. Though named lords, these men are not peers.

No woman who has never been married and who is not a peeress in her own right is ever Lady Surname or Lady Title.

Lady Jersey is either married, widowed, or divorced from Lord Jersey. She is never the daughter of Lord Jersey.

The daughters of earls, marquesses, and dukes are Lady Agatha Smith- that is Lady First name Surname. No unmarried woman who does not have a peerage in her own right is ever lady surname or Lady title.

The younger sons of Dukes and Marquesses are Lord First Name Surname. Not Lord Surname. Their wives are Lady man's first name family name. Not Lady Family name. The sons are Lord Randall Stuart. Lord Granville Leveson Gower. Lord Peter Wimsey. The wife would be Lady Randall Stuart, Lady Granville Leveson Gower, Lady Peter Wimsey.

The daughters of Dukes, marquess and earls were called Lady First name surname. These are never Lady Surname or Lady Title.

They are also never Miss Surname or Miss Title.

The Younger sons of earls and all the sons of viscounts and barons are Mr. or, in reality, The Hon. Arthur Wellesley. In practical every day speech, just Mr. Wellesley. As Armiger put it in the 1918 Titles: A Guide to the Right Use of British Titles and Honours "It cannot be too firmly stated that the word "honourable" is never used in speech." (Except when referring to " the honourable member")The word honourable is only used in addressing envelopes and in formal court announcements.

A plain Jane Smith never becomes Lady Jane by marriage. Miss Brown the daughter of a baron does not become Lady Mary by marrying an earl but becomes Lady Title.

The daughter of a peer who marries a peer becomes Lady Title.

If she is the daughter of an earl, viscount or baron and marries the younger son of a duke or marquess, she becomes Lady Hisfirstname Surname. If she is the daughter of a duke and marries the younger son of a duke or marquess she may call her self Lady hisfirstname Surname or her own Lady Firstname with his surname. This is because they are of the same rank.

Frankly, in the interest of simplicity I would have the woman take her husband's style.

The daughter of a Duke, marquess, or Earl who is entitled to be Lady Mary surname who marries a baronet or a knight just changes the surname.

Addressing Others

While a man in the clergy is listed as the Rev. Mr. Jones, he is not addressed as Reverend in England. He is Mr. Doctor, Vicar, or Rector. One might address him as "vicar" but not "reverend."

The Archbishops of York and Canterbury are members of the House of Lords They are referred to as the Archbishop of Canterbury or York and not by name in much the same way as the Duke of Devonshire is called the Duke of Devonshire.

One difference is that the Archbishops sign papers in Latin .

They are addressed as Dukes in that all say "Your Grace."

My Lord Archbishop, or Your Grace on letters.

However, their wives are plain Mrs.Family Surname, unless the archbishop or she have personal (called temporal) titles.

The children follow the rules for ordinary non titled persons.

All bishops are Lord Bishop though only twenty-four are among the Lords Spiritual in the House of Lords.

A bishop is addressed as Your lordship or My Lord. His precedence, if one of the spiritual lords, is between barons and viscounts.

A wife is Mrs. Unless she or her husband also have a temporal title. That is if she is the daughter of an Earl she will be Lady Elizabeth her husband's family name.

One man was both an earl and a bishop and not worthy of either position.

Arch deacons are addressed as Archdeacon or Sir. On letters they are the Venerable.

A member of the clergy whether a rector or Vicar is addressed as such without a name. With a name it is Mr. Surname. That is one can say , "Vicar, when is the confirmation class," when speaking to the man, but would not say he is Vicar Jones. He is the Revd,. A.C. Jones on envelopes. One does not call a man Reverend as is often done in the USA, but one addresses him in a letter as Reverend Sir, or just sir.

In Jane Austen's works the doctors were clergymen. Dr. Grant and such. The medical personnel were all called Mr. whether apothecaries, physicians or surgeons.

Names in General

People were more formal in the way they addressed each other. We do not read of husbands and wives calling each other by their first names in either letters, or novels.

The daughters of peers called their eldest brothers by his title instead of by name even when writing to other siblings. Lady Sarah Spencer called her eldest brother Althorp when writing to another brother who was in the navy. The daughters of the Duke of Devonshire called their brother Hartington or Hart instead of by his first name. They referred to him by his title in all correspondence.

Men in the army and navy  had were addressed first by the military or naval rank and then by the title. Admiral Lord Collingwood, or Colonel Lord Paget.

In an ordinary household, the oldest daughter was Miss Surname: Miss Bennet. The oldest son is Mr. Bertram.

The second and other daughters were Miss First Name Surname :Miss Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Lydia Bennet. The same was true of younger brothers. Mr. Edmund Bertram had an older brother Tom who was Mr. Bertram. If Miss Elizabeth Bennet was away from home, she would be called Miss Bennet.

Any mail addressed to Miss Bennet would go to Jane, just as any mail addressed to Mr. Bertram at Mansfield Park would go to Tom Bertram and not Edmund.

While a younger sister could move up to be Miss Bennet when the older one married, a younger brother did not become Mr. Bertram unless his older brother died.

According to Titles, a Guide to the right use of British Titles & Honours, (London,1918) One never speaks of the Marquess or the Earl but always of Lord So and So. One can call the duke , Duke or The Duke, but one doesn't usually call the others by their ranks. Barons are never called such. "Although it would be right to talk about '"the Duke, or Duchess of Middlesex" and they would not, indeed, be referred to in any other way, nobody "who knows" would talk about the "Marquess, or Marchioness of Montgomeryshire," They would be called "Lord and Lady Montgomeryshire."

Still less would they be referred to as "The Marquess or the Marchioness." There would be occasions on which the full title would be used, but it would never be done in intimate speech. "The Marquess" and "the Earl;" are so very often used by popular novelists, who love the Peerage better than they know its ways, that it may be difficult to believe that they are showing ignorance when they wish to show intimacy. It is only wrong, of course, in that it is never done by people of title themselves, or by those who mix with them. It is a shibboleth. Anyone who spoke habitually of "the Marquis of Montgomeryshire" or "The Countess of Malvern," instead of saying "Lord Montgomeryshire" or "Lady Malvern." would show plainly that he had small knowledge of the matters in which he is now being instructed, and would be put down as an outsider, just as much as if he were to speak of Lady John Smith as "Lady Smith."'

Titles and Names
Speaking to and of titled persons


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