I thought I had achieved a decent grasp on the peerages of the United Kingdom, at least passably so.
Let me make a disclaimer right now: despite more hours of research than I care to admit, I still don’t have the whole peerage, honorific, addresses thingy down. Maybe it’s a built-in American deficit.
As most readers and writers of Regencies are aware, the title of baron is the fifth grade of the British peerage and is also the lowest ranking title. A baron’s wife is a baroness, and they are addressed as Lord (Flibbertigibbet) or Lady (Flibbertigibbet).
Things are a wee bit different with the Scots though.
Of course, they are, and yet I insist on writing Scottish Regencies.
I’m a glutton for punishment, or perhaps just infatuated with all things Scot. I am part Scots after all.
Historically, in Scotland, a baron was the leader of a feudal barony, also known as a prescriptive barony. The position included land and a dwelling (a caput) often a castle or manor house. Even without the peerage label, a baron’s position was elevated and powerful.
I see you ladies celebrating! The Scots were a mite more forward thinking than the British.
Another interesting fact about feudal baronies is they could be bought and sold (with the land and residence).
Although considered nobles, minor barons were not part of the peerage rank of Scotland.
The Scottish equivalent to an English baron is called a Lord (Laird) of Parliament, and males are addressed as Lord (Thingamabob). Females may hold the title but, there is no female title equivalent, therefore, Lady Thingamabob, if she is the title holder, is also The Lord of Parliament.
I’ll give you a second to scratch your head, uncross your eyes, and ponder that.
Complicating matters further, when there was no direct male heir, all daughters inherited equally. An estate was often put in abeyance (think of it as a temporary holding state) until the Committee of Privileges was petitioned by one or more of the daughters requesting that they be awarded the title. Once the committee settled in favor of a daughter, she held the title.
Britain currently has two female Lords of Parliament.
So the next time you hear only males inherited titles, you can regurgitate this tidbit!
I’m curious; had any of you ever heard of this before? Would you find it confusing within the context of a novel?
Highland Heather Romancing a Scot Series, Book 3
By Collette Cameron
Abducted by a band of renegade Scots, Highland gypsy Tasara Faas doesn’t hesitate to blacken her rescuer’s eye when the charming duke attempts to steal a kiss. Afterward, she learns she’s the long-lost heiress Alexandra Atterberry and is expected to take her place among the elite society she’s always disdained.
Lucan, the Duke of Harcourt, promised his gravely ill mother he’d procure a wife by Christmastide, but intrigued by the feisty lass he saved in Scotland, he finds the haut ton ladies lacking. Spying Alexa at a London ball, he impulsively decides to make the knife-wielding gypsy his bride despite her aversion to him and her determination to return to the Highlands.
The adversary responsible for Alexa’s disappearance as a toddler still covets her fortune and joins forces with Harcourt’s arch nemesis. Amidst a series of suspicious misfortunes, Lucan endeavors to win Alexa’s love and expose the conspirators but only succeeds in reaffirming Alexa’s belief that she is inadequate to become his duchess.
“We two, marry,” Alexa muttered, grinning and pointing her attention to the carriage ceiling, her forefinger to her chin. “Now wouldn’t that be something to set the tongues flapping till next Season.”
She could no more do a duchess title justice than the devil could encourage sinners to repent. True, she found Harcourt dashing and deucedly attractive, and if he weren’t a duke, she might have considered his addresses.
A union between them would be a complete disaster. A wholly, calamitous mismatch. They didn’t want the same things from life. She preferred an unobtrusive, modest existence.
Accustomed to position and privilege, as well as the attention and whirlwind of activity his status mandated, he’d become resentful and embarrassed as she repeatedly bungled being a duchess.
A lifetime of humiliation and an embittered husband did not make for a tolerable marriage, much less a happy one.
“That would give the tattlemongers something to bandy about. Preposterous.” She formed a small moue with her mouth while she considered him from beneath the fan of her lashes. “I didn’t take you for the type to make a May game of someone.”
His smoky eyes widening in incredulity, surprise registered on the duke’s face. “I suppose it’s hard to believe—and I’ve blundered the suggestion—but I assure you, Alexandra—”
“Alexa, please, if you insist on addressing me by my given name, although I’m sure it’s most improper.” Wasn’t it? Another bothersome rule to keep track of.
“Very well, Alexa. I am serious. I’m obligated to acquire a wife by Christmastide, and given Renishaw’s ill-timed disclosure about your abduction, and the Hinton sisters’ penchant for rumormongering, your reputation will be in tatters by week’s end.”
Bestselling, award-winning Historical Romance Author, Collette Cameron, pens Scottish and Regency Romances featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intrepid damsels who reform them. Mother to three and self-proclaimed Cadbury chocoholic, she’s crazy about dachshunds, cobalt blue, and makes her home in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds. You’ll always find animals, quirky—sometimes naughty—humor, and a dash of inspiration in her novels. To learn more about Collette and her books, visit collettecameron.com
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