Are there any non-white members of the British aristocracy?

Or would nobility be the better word? I’m not talking about the yearly honors - I’d be very surprised if those didn’t range across all demographics. I guess I’m talking more about barons, earls, dukes - that sort of thing. It’s a question that just occurred to me while listening to a radio show about British black film.

If you believe this, the whole British Royal Family has had black blood pumpin’ through their hearts ever since the 14th century.

I met this guy some years ago. I believe there are a significant number of South Asians with similar titles, but I don’t know how many.

There are several, and have been for some time. The first was the Lord Leary Constantine:

Well, the second highest of the Lords Spiritual, His Grace the Most Rev. John Tucker Mugabe Sentamu, Archbishop of York, was born into the Buffalo Clan in Uganda in 1949. His biography, from his website.

Phillippa of Hanaut was the daughter of the Count of Hanaut and Jeanne of Valois. She wasn’t black.

There’s also Lydia Dunn from Hong Kong, who was made a Baroness in 1990.

Baron Sinha, said to be the first Indian and only person of colour elevated to the hereditary peerage.

There’s the Baroness Uddin; the first & only Muslim life peeress.

There are also some Muslim life peers…Baron Alli is Indio-Carribean, Baron Bhatia is from East Africa, and Baron Ahmed is from Pakistan.

In addition to Lord Alli, there are some other Carribean life peers. Baroness Scotland was born in Dominica (and was the first black female minister). Baroness Amos was born in Guyana, as was Baron Ouseley, who was mentioned earlier.

In addition, there’s Baron Bilmoria, the first Parsi peer.

Not British, but Montezuma’s heirs were brought to Spain after the conquest of Mexico and married into the Spanish aristocracy. One of them was proclaimed the Duke of Montezuma. I believe the title exists to this day.

He had two daughters and an illegitimate son. The son’s grandson was the one given the title Count of Moctezuma de Tultengo. I believe that a descendant of one of Moctezuma’s daughters married into the Spanish royal family, so Spain has had kings descended from Moctezuma.

Thanks for the responses. It was an interesting moment for me. As I said, I was listening to a programme (heh) about the history of black TV and cinema in Britain, and they were interviewing a pretty much exclusively black group of people. The narrator introduced “Baroness someone-or-other” and I instinctively thought, “wait, why are they interviewing a white woman”? Which lead instantly down an interesting mental path. “Why would she have to be white?” “Well, I’ve never heard of a black baroness, are there any?” “How could there be - aren’t they all from centuries-old British families, established in the days before racial tolerance?” “Perhaps some have been established since then…” etc, etc. Thus the thread. For the record, they never mentioned the race of this particular baroness.

Just so I’m clear on the terminology, life peer = you title goes away when you die. Hereditory peer = your kids get the title. Right?

Precisely. Originally invented for the “Law Lords” – the judges who actually do the trials when the House of Lords sits as England’s highest court. (Britain’s, generally? Not sure, but definitely England’s.) Later extended to new peerages.

For a period in the later 20th century, no hereditary titles were given out, only life peerages. Maggie Thatcher put an end to that, though I believe they’re still very rarely given nowadays.

Just to point out an assumption you’ve made here. In the days when non-whites were a tiny minority, there wasn’t much objection to marrying them. If you read the Life of Olaudah Equiano, for instance, you’ll find that after he’s freed from slavery he marries an Englishwoman (Susannah Cullen: thanks, internet!) and they have a couple of daughters. This site traces the genealogy as far as it’s known, one generation, but it suggests that being African wasn’t an huge problem at the turn of the 19th century. I know it’s only one data point, but perhaps someone else can confirm or deny if this was always a problem or only beginning in the 19th century.

The House of Lords in its judicial capacity was the final court of appeal for England and Wales in all matters generally.

It had civil jurisdiction for appeals from Scotland, of wihich the most famous example was likely the “snail in the bottle” case, Donoghue v. Stevenson. It didn’t have jurisdiction to hear appeals from Scotland in criminal matters, if I remember correctly.

I think it had full jurisdiction for all appeals from Northern Ireland.

PM Blair had announced plans to abolish the Lords’ judicial capacity and create a new Supreme Court of the United Kingdom - I don’t know what happened to that - maybe APB or AK84 could give us an update.

The same law lords also sat on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which was the final appellate body for the Empire. It still has some jurisdiction over some parts of the Commonwealth which have not established their own final appellate courts, I believe.

The new UK Supreme Court is due to start work later this year.

It’s perhaps worth saying that that assumption probably isn’t true even in general. There are almost as many living life peers as there are hereditary peers and the number of life barons and baronesses easily outnumber hereditary baron and baronesses (although that’s ignoring the complication of courtesy titles).

So any random baroness is as likely as not to be a life peeress or the wife of a life peer. And, although one would certainly not want to claim that the life peers are a fair cross-section of the general population, most do not come from the great landed families of yore. For good or ill, they’re more a reflection of the political establishment of the recent past.

Right. Going through this mental process was a weird cascade of identifying and questioning and reassessing layers of stereotypes and things I’d never really bothered to think about. It was an odd sensation.

Random comment here because I really dont need to get into it on a different board.

It was mentioned that there was a portrait of Queen Charlotte made, and a number of copies made that were sent off.

Don’t they realize that there was a long standing habit of ‘official portrait templates’ where someone would actually stand in for the queen, in the costume she was going to be wearing and only when they got to needing her face for the head would they actually manage to get the queen or king or princess for the few hours it took to make the basic sketches for the portrait. It is not uncommon for the body posture to not match the head and neck posture. Queen Lizzy the 1 was notorious for having a court portrait made, then painters working from looking at that to make their portraits from [got that tidbit from Arnold’s Wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth Unlocked]

There is one portrait in that thread n page 2 that matches it exactly, the queens body does not match the head at all … they claim that when the portrait was shipped to the US the head was repainted to hid her being of color …

Though many of the descendents images don’t look particularly mulatto …

I think it is pretty spurious, as there were african auxilliaries stationed in britannia in imperial roman days … so they had plenty of time to blend into the population. Not to mention if they are right and we are all descended from people out of africa, who gives a shit…I have mitochondrial eve in my blood, I have african in my blood.