Peerage

A peerage is a legal system historically comprising various hereditary titles (and sometimes non-hereditary titles) in a number of countries, and composed of assorted noble ranks.

Peerages include:

Canada

France

Japan

Portugal

Spain

United Kingdom

Great Britain and Ireland

Lists of peers

See also

Baron

Baron is a rank of nobility or title of honour, often hereditary. The female equivalent is baroness.

British royal family

The British royal family comprises Queen Elizabeth II and her close relations. There is no strict legal or formal definition of who is or is not a member of the British royal family.

Those who at the time are entitled to the style His or Her Royal Highness (HRH), and any styled His or Her Majesty (HM), are normally considered members, including those so styled before the beginning of the current monarch's reign. By this criterion, a list of the current royal family will usually include the monarch, the children and male-line grandchildren of the monarch and previous monarchs, the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, and all of their current or widowed spouses.

Some members of the royal family have official residences named as the places from which announcements are made in the Court Circular about official engagements they have carried out. The state duties and staff of some members of the royal family are funded from a parliamentary annuity, the amount of which is fully refunded by the Queen to the Treasury.Since 1917, when King George V changed the name of the royal house from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, members of the royal family have belonged, either by birth or by marriage, to the House of Windsor. Senior titled members of the royal family do not usually use a surname, although since 1960 Mountbatten-Windsor, incorporating Prince Philip's adopted surname of Mountbatten, has been prescribed as a surname for Elizabeth II's direct descendants who do not have royal styles and titles, and it has sometimes been used when required for those who do have such titles. The royal family are regarded as British cultural icons, with young adults from abroad naming the family among a group of people that they most associated with UK culture.

Burke's Peerage

Burke's Peerage Limited is a British genealogical publisher founded in 1826, when Irish genealogist John Burke began releasing books devoted to the ancestry and heraldry of the peerage, baronetage, knightage and landed gentry of the United Kingdom. His first publication, a Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Peerage and Baronetage of the United Kingdom, was updated sporadically until 1847, when the company began releasing new editions every year as Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (often shortened to just Burke's Peerage). Other books followed, including Burke's Landed Gentry, Burke's Colonial Gentry, and Burke's General Armory. In addition to the peerage, Burke's published books on royal families of Europe and Latin America, ruling families of Africa and the Middle East, distinguished families of the United States and historical families of Ireland.

Debrett's

Debrett's () is a professional coaching company, publisher and authority on etiquette and behaviour, founded in 1769 with the publication of the first edition of The New Peerage. The company takes its name from its founder, John Debrett.

Duke of York

Duke of York is a title of nobility in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Since the 15th century, it has, when granted, usually been given to the second son of English (later British) monarchs. The equivalent title in the Scottish peerage was Duke of Albany. However, King George I and Queen Victoria granted the second sons of their eldest sons the titles Duke of York and Albany and Duke of York respectively.

Initially granted in the 14th century in the Peerage of England, the title Duke of York has been created eight times. The title Duke of York and Albany has been created three times. These occurred during the 18th century, following the 1707 unification of the Kingdom of England and Kingdom of Scotland into a single, united realm. The double naming was done so that a territorial designation from each of the previously separate realms could be included.

The current Duke of York is Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II. The present Duke's marriage produced two daughters only, and he has remained unmarried since his 1996 divorce. It therefore seems likely that the eighth creation of the title will be only the second (after Richard of Shrewsbury) not to become merged into the Crown upon the holder's accession to the role of monarch.

Earl

An earl () is a member of the nobility. The title is Anglo-Saxon in origin, akin to the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced by duke (hertig/hertug/hertog). In later medieval Britain, it became the equivalent of the continental count (in England in the earlier period, it was more akin to a duke; in Scotland it assimilated the concept of mormaer). However, earlier in Scandinavia, jarl could also mean a sovereign prince. For example, the rulers of several of the petty kingdoms of Norway had the title of jarl and in many cases they had no less power than their neighbours who had the title of king. Alternative names for the rank equivalent to "earl/count" in the nobility structure are used in other countries, such as the hakushaku of the post-restoration Japanese Imperial era.

In modern Britain, an earl is a member of the peerage, ranking below a marquess and above a viscount. A feminine form of earl never developed; instead, countess is used.

Earl Spencer (peerage)

Earl Spencer is a title in the Peerage of Great Britain that was created on 1 November 1765, along with the title Viscount Althorp, of Althorp in the County of Northampton, for John Spencer, 1st Viscount Spencer. He was a member of the prominent Spencer family and a great-grandson of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. Previously, he had been created Viscount Spencer, of Althorp in the County of Northampton, and Baron Spencer of Althorp, of Althorp in the County of Northampton, on 3 April 1761.The future 6th Earl Spencer was created Viscount Althorp, of Great Brington in the County of Northampton, on 19 December 1905 in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. Diana, Princess of Wales, was the youngest of three daughters of the 8th Earl Spencer. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex are grandsons of the 8th Earl Spencer.

Hereditary peer

The hereditary peers form part of the peerage in the United Kingdom. As of 2019 there are 814 hereditary peers. The numbers of peers – of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain, and the UK – whose titles are the highest they hold (i.e. are not subsidiary titles) are: dukes, 24 (plus 7 royal dukes); marquesses, 34; earls, 193; viscounts, 112; barons, 444.

Not all hereditary titles are titles of the peerage. For instance, baronets and baronetesses may pass on their titles, but they are not peers. Conversely, the holder of a non-hereditary title may belong to the peerage, as with life peers. Peerages may be created by means of letters patent, but the granting of new hereditary peerages has largely dwindled; only seven hereditary peers have been created after 1965, four of them members of the British royal family.

From 1963 to 1999, all (non-Irish) peers were entitled to sit in the House of Lords, but since the House of Lords Act 1999 was passed, only 92 are permitted to do so, unless they are also life peers. Peers are called to the House of Lords with a writ of summons.

Life peer

In the United Kingdom, life peers are appointed members of the peerage whose titles cannot be inherited, in contrast to hereditary peers. In modern times, life peerages, always created at the rank of baron, are created under the Life Peerages Act 1958 and entitle the holders to seats in the House of Lords, presuming they meet qualifications such as age and citizenship. The legitimate children of a life peer are entitled to style themselves with the prefix "The Honourable", although they cannot inherit the peerage itself.

List of United Kingdom by-elections (1950–1979)

This is a list of parliamentary by-elections in the United Kingdom, with the names of the incumbent and victor and their respective parties. Where seats changed political party at the election, the result is highlighted: red for a Labour gain, blue for a Conservative gain, orange for a Liberal gain, yellow for a SNP gain, green for a Plaid Cymru gain and grey for any other gain.

Peerage Act 1963

The Peerage Act 1963 (1963 c. 48) is the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that permitted women peers and all Scottish hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords, and which allows newly inherited hereditary peerages to be disclaimed.

Peerage of England

The Peerage of England comprises all peerages created in the Kingdom of England before the Act of Union in 1707. In that year, the Peerages of England and Scotland were replaced by one Peerage of Great Britain.

Until the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999, all Peers of England could sit in the House of Lords. (Women peers of England were only granted seats with the Peerage Act 1963.)

The ranks of the English peerage are, in descending order, Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, and Baron. While most newer English peerages descend only in the male line, many of the older ones (particularly older baronies) can descend through females. Under English inheritance law all daughters are co-heirs, so many older English peerage titles have fallen into abeyance between various female co-heirs.

Baronets, while holders of hereditary titles, are not peers and not entitled to sit in the House of Lords (unless they also hold a peerage). Knights, Dames, and holders of other non-hereditary orders, decorations, and medals of the United Kingdom are also not peers.

In the following table, each peer is listed only by his or her highest English title (with the exception of the Duke of Norfolk/Earl of Arundel) showing higher or equal titles in the other peerages. Those peers who are known by a higher title in one of the other peerages are listed in italics.

Peerage of France

The Peerage of France (French: Pairie de France) was a hereditary distinction within the French nobility which appeared in 1180 in the Middle Ages, and only a small number of noble individuals were peers. It was abolished in 1789 during the French Revolution, but it reappeared in 1814 at the time of the Bourbon Restoration which followed the fall of the First French Empire, when the Chamber of Peers was given a constitutional function somewhat along British lines, which lasted until the Revolution of 1848. On 10 October 1831, by a vote of 324 against 26 of the Chamber of Deputies, hereditary peerages were abolished, but peerages for the life of the holder continued to exist until the chamber and rank were definitively abolished in 1848.

The prestigious title and position of Peer of France (French: Pair de France) was held by the greatest, highest-ranking members of the French nobility. French peerage thus differed from British peerage (to whom the term "baronage", also employed as the title of the lowest noble rank, was applied in its generic sense), for the vast majority of French nobles, from baron to duke, were not peers. The title of 'Peer of France' was an extraordinary honour granted only to a small number of dukes, counts, and princes of the Roman Catholic Church. It was analogous to the rank of Grandee of Spain in this respect.

Peerage of Great Britain

The Peerage of Great Britain comprises all extant peerages created in the Kingdom of Great Britain after the Acts of Union 1707 but before the Acts of Union 1800. It replaced the Peerage of England and the Peerage of Scotland until it was itself replaced by the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1801.

The ranks of the Peerage of Great Britain are Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount and Baron. Until the passage of the House of Lords Act 1999, all Peers of Great Britain could sit in the House of Lords.

In the following table of peers of Great Britain, higher or equal titles in the other peerages are listed. Those peers who are known by a higher title in one of the other peerages are listed in italics.

Some holders of the Peerage of Great Britain was created for peers in the Peerage of Scotland and Peerage of Ireland as they did not have an automatic seat in the House of Lords until the Peerage Act 1963 which gave Scottish Peers an automatic right to sit in the Lords.

Peerage of Ireland

The Peerage of Ireland consists of those titles of nobility created by the English monarchs in their capacity as lord or king of Ireland, or later by monarchs of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The creation of such titles came to an end in the 19th century. The ranks of the Irish peerage are duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron. As of 2016, there were 135 titles in the Peerage of Ireland extant: two dukedoms, ten marquessates, 43 earldoms, 28 viscountcies, and 52 baronies. The Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland continues to exercise jurisdiction over the Peerage of Ireland, including those peers whose titles derive from places located in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Article 40.2 of the Irish Constitution forbids the state conferring titles of nobility and a citizen may not accept titles of nobility or honour except with the prior approval of the Government. As stated above, this issue does not arise in respect of the Peerage of Ireland, as no creations of titles in it have been made since the Constitution came into force.

In the following table, each peer is listed only by his or her highest Irish title, showing higher or equal titles in the other peerages. Those peers who are known by a higher title in one of the other peerages are listed in italics.

Peerage of Scotland

The Peerage of Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Moraireachd na h-Alba, Scots: Peerage o Scotland) is the section of the Peerage of the British Isles for those peers created by the King of Scots before 1707. Following that year's Treaty of Union, the Kingdom of Scots and the Kingdom of England were combined under the name of Great Britain, and a new Peerage of Great Britain was introduced in which subsequent titles were created.

After the Union, the Peers of the ancient Parliament of Scotland elected 16 representative peers to sit in the House of Lords. The Peerage Act 1963 granted all Scottish Peers the right to sit in the House of Lords, but this automatic right was revoked, as for all hereditary peerages (except those of the incumbent Earl Marshal and Lord Great Chamberlain), when the House of Lords Act 1999 received royal assent. Had the Scottish people voted "Yes" in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the eligibility of Peers of Scotland to sit in the House of Lords would have been reviewed.

Unlike most peerages, many Scottish titles have been granted with remainder to pass via female offspring (thus an Italian family has succeeded to and presently holds the earldom of Newburgh), and in the case of daughters only, these titles devolve to the eldest daughter rather than falling into abeyance (as is the case with ancient English baronies by writ of summons). Unlike other British peerage titles, Scots Law permits peerages to be inherited by or through a person who was not legitimate at birth, but was subsequently legitimised by their parents marrying later.The ranks of the Scottish Peerage are, in ascending order: Lord of Parliament, Viscount, Earl, Marquis and Duke. Scottish Viscounts differ from those of the other Peerages (of England, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom) by using the style of in their title, as in Viscount of Oxfuird. Though this is the theoretical form, most Viscounts drop the "of". The Viscount of Arbuthnott and to a lesser extent the Viscount of Oxfuird still use "of." Scottish Peers were entitled to sit in the ancient Parliament of Scotland.

Scottish Barons rank below Lords of Parliament, and although considered noble, their titles are incorporeal hereditaments. At one time feudal barons did sit in parliament. However, they are considered minor barons and not peers because their titles can be hereditary, or bought and sold.

In the following table of the Peerage of Scotland as it currently stands, each peer's highest ranking title in the other peerages (if any) are also listed. Those peers who are known by a higher title in one of the other peerages are listed in italics.

Peerage of the United Kingdom

The Peerage of the United Kingdom comprises most peerages created in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland after the Acts of Union in 1801, when it replaced the Peerage of Great Britain. New peers continued to be created in the Peerage of Ireland until 1898 (the last creation being the Barony of Curzon of Kedleston).

Peerages in the United Kingdom

The peerage in the United Kingdom is a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the British honours system. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of nobles (or a subdivision thereof), and individually to refer to a specific title (modern English language-style using an initial capital in the former case but not the latter). British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm.

Peerages are created by the British monarch, like all Crown honours, being affirmed by Letters Patent affixed with the Great Seal of the Realm. The government of the United Kingdom recommends to the Sovereign who should be elevated to the peerage, after external vetting by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Under present custom, the only new hereditary peerages granted are to members of the royal family; the last non-royal awardees of hereditary titles were in the Thatcher era. Since then, ruling parties have refrained from recommending any others to be elevated.

New Labour, elected to power in 1997, sought to remove all the seats in the House of Lords reserved for hereditary peers, but Prime Minister Tony Blair relented by allowing 92 members to remain by legislation enacted in 1999. The House of Lords' purpose is now that of a revising legislative chamber, scrutinising and potentially changing proposed Parliamentary Bills before their enactment. Its membership for the most part comprises life peers, created under the Life Peerages Act 1958, which includes those who can add value in specific areas of expertise in parliamentary debates, as well as former MPs and other political appointees from respective political parties.

The Sovereign, traditionally the fount of honour, cannot hold a British peerage (although the British Sovereign, whether male or female, is informally accorded the style of "Duke of Lancaster"). All British subjects who were neither Royal nor Peers of the Realm were previously termed Commoners, regardless of wealth or other social factors, thus all members of a peer's family are (technically) commoners too; the British system thus differs fundamentally from continental European versions, where entire families, rather than individuals, were ennobled. Nobility in Britain is based on title rather than bloodline, and correspondingly The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) who enjoys Royal status as daughter of The Queen, opted for her children to be Commoners by refusing offers of titles, despite their being grandchildren of the Sovereign (qv. Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall).

Certain personal privileges are afforded to all peers and peeresses, but the main distinction of a peerage nowadays, apart from access to the House of Lords for life peers and some hereditary peers, is the title and style thereby accorded. Succession claims to existing hereditary peerages are regulated by the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct and administered by The Crown Office.

Viscount

A viscount ( (listen) VY-kownt, for male) or viscountess (, for female) is a title used in certain European countries for a noble of varying status. In many countries a viscount, and its historical equivalents, was a non-hereditary, administrative or judicial position, and did not develop into an hereditary title until much later. In the case of French viscounts, it is customary to leave the title untranslated as vicomte [vi.kɔ̃t] and vicomtesse.

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