Lordships and Ladyships

First, I know there are titles like Marquis and Duke and so forth, but are all these addressed as Your Lordship, and referred to as Sir, as in Sir Reginald? Second, are there nobles with the title plain Lord without their being a duke, baron, earl, etc.?
Third, let’s say you are the daughter of a duke or baron, etc. and therefore known as Lady Irene. I understand that you would still be called Lady Irene if you married Mr. Dustbin, but if you married the Duke of Hilldale, Lord Cramden, would you still be Lady Irene or because a duke is so high up would you have to be Lady Cramden?
Fourth, are all the dukes, marquises, earls, barons, baronets, and knights the duke, marquis, etc. OF something and have a name of their own besides (like my Lord Cramden, Duke of Hilldale)?
Fifth, are dukes addressed as Your Grace, whereas the lesser nobility are called Your Lordships?
Sixth, let’s say you are the king’s brother’s son and therefore would be called Your Highness (I think princes of the blood are Highnesses). But what if you are the grandson of the king’s brother? Where does the Highness and the blood run out?
Majesty is only for reigning monarchs, but what about Queen Elizabeth’s mother, who was a reigning monarch. When she wasn’t reigning anymore, was she demoted from Your Majesty down to merely Your Highness?

Some answers are here…

The style His (or Her) Majesty is reserved for those individuals who are kings or queens. Elizabeth II as queen is styled Her Majesty. If she was a princess who was the daughter of a king or queen, she would be styled Royal Highness (HRH). (HM was “HRH Princess Elizabeth” during her father’s lifetime.)

In the United Kingdom, the style HM is also the style of the wife or the widow of a king
The children of H.M. The Queen (Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward) are styled H.R.H. because they are children of the sovereign, a queen. Their style and title are allowed to them as children of the sovereign.

The children of H.R.H. Princess Margaret (David and Sarah) are not H.R.H. because princesses do not usually transmit their titles to their children. Instead, David and Sarah’s names and titles come to them from their father, the Earl of Snowdon. As children of a peer, David is allowed the courtesy use of his father’s subsidiary title of Viscount Linley, while Sarah is allowed the use of the prefix ‘Lady’ before her Christian name followed by her surname. The children of H.R.H. Princess Anne (Peter and Zara) and H.R.H. Princess Alexandra of Kent (James and Marina) are in a similar situation as those of H.R.H. Princess Margaret. They are the children of a royal mother but take their rank from their father.

More info here

Forms of Address

And, I’m sure someone will along in a second to correct me, but yes, you can be a simple knight (or dame) and be addressed as “Sir”. Sir Sean Connery, for example.

I’ve edited the link so it doesn’t screw up the margins.-- Dex

[Edited by C K Dexter Haven on 08-02-2001 at 02:29 PM]

Titles and address are a complicated subject.

I tackle mainly from the British perspective, the French and Germans may have a different layer. I’m doing this from memory, so I hope I don’t miss.

First, yes, every peer is the Lord/Duke/Prince of Someplace (although there are some courtesy titles of “Lord” that have no particular association, like Lord Peter Wimsey – see below.) There is a family name and there is the title, and individuals/families could hold more than one title.

Below the peerage are knights. Sir Price Waterhouse is knighted and is called “Sir Price”, no “lordship” to it.

The lowest level of peerage is the baronet, and is addressed “Sir”, so “Sir Edward Paddington” in full and “Sir Edward” in short. He would be “my Lord.”

The next layers are barons, marquis (marquess in the UK), earl, and viscount. Admiral John Jarvis becomes the first Earl of St. Vincent. He would be addressed as “the Earl of St Vincent” or simply “Lord St Vincent” or “my Lord” or “Your Lordship.” (Since he’s also an admiral, he could be “His Lordship, Admiral the Earl St Vincent,” but let’s forget about the military titles.) For someone on affectionate terms like his wife or hunting chums, he might be called simply “St Vincent.” He would NEVER be “Lord John” – that would apply to the second son, who does not have the title.

Dukes who are members of the peerage are addressed as “Your Grace” rather than “Your Lordship.” So, Arthur Wellesly became the Duke of Wellington, and was thenceforth addressed as “The Duke of Wellington.” No “Lord” to it. He would be “Wellington” to his close friends.

Dukes who are members of the royal house are called royal dukes and addressed “Your Royal Highness.” Thus, if the Queen’s grandson Henry were to be give a title like “Duke of York,” he would be “His Royal Highness the Duke of York.” No “Lordship.” (Note: This is different, I think, in France.) In the above mentioned instance, Henry is also a prince, and could be addressed as “Prince Henry” but still “His Royal Highness.”

No, there are no nobles with the title “plain Lord” who do not have a more specific title.

The wife of the Earl of Loverly, Eliza Doolittle, is Lady Loverly. If she were a peer in her own right, for example, if she were the daughter of the Duke of Denver, then she would be Lady Eliza. It gets very complicated. Peter Wimsey is the younger son of the Duke of Denver; he is given the courtesy title “Lord” and so becomes Lord Peter Wimsey, and he is appropriately addressed “Lord Peter” (still called “my Lord” or “Your Lordship.”) He marries Harriet Vane (not a peer in her own right) who becomes Lady Peter, it is a social gaffe to call her “Lady Wimsey” since her husband has only a courtesy title and is not properly a lord (not able to sit in the House of Lords, for instance.) And she isn’t “Lady Harriet” because she herself is not a peeress.

The daughter of the Duke of Denver is Lady Mary Wimsey, she is called Lady Mary. She marries a commoner, Mr Charles Parker, and they are introduced as Mr Charles and Lady Mary Parker.

In the Victorian Era, this concern with titles even hit commoners. Mr Smith was married to Mrs Smith; the eldest son was Mr John Smith; the eldest daughter was Miss Smith and the younger daughter was Miss Kate Smith.

That help? It’s a complicated subject, and easy to get tangled up, especially when you get into spouses and relatives and such.

[Edited by C K Dexter Haven on 08-02-2001 at 02:36 PM]

I’m fairly sure that a baronet is not a peer. A baronetcy is just like a hereditary knighthood and it certainly doesn’t entitle the holder to sit in the House of Lords (pre-House of Lords Act) or disqualify him from the Commons.

I just wanted to say that I love the examples you chose.

And now I’m off to re-read “Busman’s Honeymoon” and see Harriet Vane once again become Lady Peter. :wink:

I don’t know about the French, but the Germans have long ago abolished the whole concept. If you come across someone who claims he should be addressed as Graf Dumkopf von Arsloch “Graf” is not his title. It’s just his name.

Dude. Seriously. We’re worried about you.

Thanks, TomH, and my apologies, momentary lapse.

And my info is all circa 1830 - 1900 … the good ol’ days.

The only changes I can think of since then are the introduction of life peerages in the 1960s and the House of Lords Act 1999. Since neither of these affected the styles or titles of peers, I think your info is probably pretty much up to date.

However, there is evidence of peers themselves insiting on new styles which are technically incorrect but will probably become accepted usage with time. The most common is the person who was famous before he or she was ennobled insisting on being described as “Lord FirstName LastName”. Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws is one example: she insists on being described as “Baroness Helena Kennedy” and recently wrote a stroppy letter to a newspaper which had used her correct title. Lord Robert Winston, the obstetrician and sometime TV presenter, is another. Melvyn Bragg seems to have ditched his title entirely, as befits a horny-handed son of toil. It seems that they, along with a lot of other New Labour peers, are prepared to accept an unelected place in the Upper House of Parliament but draw the line at the grand-sounding title that goes with it (heaven forfend that it should carry the implication of unearned privilege).

Two people I can think of have got round the problem by changing their names before taking a peerage. Sir Russell Johnston (a former Lib Dem MP) changed his name to Sir Russell Russell-Johnston so that he could be Lord Russell-Johnstone and Andrew Lloyd(-)Webber did something similar with his middle name.

Very helpful. But I don’t think anyone answered whether Queen Elizabeth’s mother is still called Your Majesty? (ie., HRM or Her Royal Majesty in full). She was when she was queen, but when she became the Dowager Queen because her daughter became queen, was she demoted to HRH or Her Royal Highness? Only the reigning monarch can be called Royal Majesty and the Queen Mother doesn’t reign. And are both Elizabeth and her mother also called “Ma’am” by everyone talking to them?
Now I’m wondering about Louis XIV. I read that nobody could sit in his presence and that when he was around, nobody could even talk to anybody else but him. Was this also the practice with Louis XV,XVI,XVIII, and Charles X?
(Louis XVII and XVIX never actually came to the throne).
And can people sit when Queen Elizabeth is around in the room or talk to anybody but her?

Almost as weird as the case of Baroness Kennedy is that of David Steel, who has decided that he no longer wants to be known as Lord Steel of Aikwood but who does insist on being called Sir David Steel as he is a KBE.

The simple answer to the OP is to invest in any book on modern British etiquette which invariably describe all the permutations in loving detail.

P.S. TomH is correct - a baronetcy never entitled the holder to sit in the House of Lords and so was not a rank in the peerage.

Peerage, nobility, knighthood and such seems to be a popular topic. Here’s where you can buy a title: http://www.burkes-peerage.com/index1.htm or http://www.burkestitles.com/

Here’s good info on knighthood:

Here’s my question (no hijack intended): Why do some titles become extinct more easily than others? For example a biography of Lord Soandso might end: “Upon his death and leaving no issue, the title became extinct.” Yet there are titles out there that can be inherited by non-issue (like a nephew, niece, cousin, etc.).

Hereditary peerages usually (but not always) have to pass through an unbroken chain of male descendants from the original recipient. In effect, this means that the holder has to be a descendant with the same surname. The chances of this condition not being fulfilled are much higher than you might think, although the chances of this happening do tend to decline with each generation. Extinctions happen all the time, with the rate averaging one or two every year. There are however a number of peerages, such as the dukedom of Norfolk, which are so old and which are held by families which now have so many different branches, that the chances of extinction ever occuring are infinitesimally small.

A small number of peerages follow different rules, usually because this was specified when the title was originally granted. Sometimes a recipient had no male heir and so provision was made for the title to pass to a daughter or a brother.