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Courtesy title

A courtesy title is a form of address in the British peerage system used for wives, children, and other close relatives of a peer. This styles may mislead those unacquainted with the system into thinking that they have substantive titles.

If a peer of the rank of Earl, Marquess or Duke has more than one title, his eldest son uses one of the lesser titles. (The eldest sons of Barons and Viscounts do not receive such a privilege.) If that eldest son has an eldest son, and there are additional titles available, he too may use a lesser title. For example, the Duke of Norfolk is also the Earl of Arundel and Lord Maltravers , and so his son may be styled Earl of Arundel, and the grandson styled Lord Maltravers. However, only the grandfather is a peer: the other two remain 'commoners' until they actually acquire a substantive title. Also, such courtesy titles are only used by the peer's eldest son, and the eldest son's eldest son, and so forth. Other descendants are not permitted to use the peer's subsidiary titles .

The actual title used is a matter of family tradition. For instance, the eldest son of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry is the Earl of Dalkeith, even though the Duke is also the Marquess of Dumfriesshire, a senior title to the Earldom of Dalkeith. Similarly, the eldest son of the Marquess of Londonderry is Viscount Castlereagh, even though the Marquess is also the Earl Vane. Titles with the same name as a peer's main title are also not used as courtesy titles. For instance, the Duke of Westminster is also the Marquess of Westminster and the Earl Grosvenor (amongst other things). The Duke's son is not the Marquess of Westminster (which would cause confusion between the son and the father), and so is styled Earl Grosvenor instead. The title used does not have to be exactly equivalent to the actual peerage: the eldest son of the current Duke of Wellington uses the title "Marquess of Douro ", even though the actual peerage possessed by his father is "Marquess Douro". If a peer of the rank of Earl or above does not have any subsidiary titles of a different name to his main title, his eldest son usually uses an invented courtesy title of "Lord Surname". For instance, the eldest son of the Earl of Devon is Lord Courtenay , even though the Earl has no barony of that name, and similarly the eldest son of the Earl of Guilford is Lord North. The eldest son of the Earl of Huntingdon, who has no subsidiary titles, is styled Viscount Hastings to avoid confusion with the substantive peer Lord Hastings.

A peer's wife takes her courtesy title based on her husband's rank, unless she herself has a higher title. Thus a baron's wife is called "baroness", an earl's wife is called a "countess", a duke's wife a "duchess", etc. Despite being referred to as a "peeress", she does not, however, become a peer "in her own right": these are 'styles', not substantive titles.

Another form of courtesy title, in the form of an honorific prefix, is granted to younger sons, and all daughters of peers. The rules differ for different ranks of peers: the children of a baron, for example, get the prefix "Hon.", the daughters of an earl are called "Lady", and so on. These titles persist after the death of the father and the descent of the peerage to the elder son.

Peer Wife Eldest Son Younger Son Unmarried Daughter
Duke Duchess Father's Subsidiary Title Lord Firstname Lastname Lady Firstname Lastname
Marquess Marchioness Father's Subsidiary Title Lord Firstname Lastname Lady Firstname Lastname
Earl Countess Father's Subsidiary Title The Honourable Firstname Lastname Lady Firstname Lastname
Viscount Viscountess The Honourable Firstname Lastname The Honourable Firstname Lastname The Honourable Firstname Lastname
Baron Baroness The Honourable Firstname Lastname The Honourable Firstname Lastname The Honourable Firstname Lastname

Note that a peer's daughter who marries a commoner retains her courtesy title (substituting her husband's surname for the maiden name), but if she marries a peer, she gains the courtesy title as that peer's wife. Also note that the children of a peeress in her own right (a peeress that holds a substantive title, and is not merely a wife of a peer) gain courtesy titles as usual, but the husband receives no special distinction.


Divorced wives

The divorced wife of a peer will put her Christian name before her husband's title, and lose any style she gained from marriage, and loses any address she gains from that style. So, "Her Grace The Duchess of London" becomes "Mary, Duchess of London," and should be addressed as "Duchess," but no longer "Your Grace." "The Rt. Hon. The Lady London" becomes "Mary, Lady London" and should be addressed as "Lady London," but not "My Lady" (an address gained from the style of Ladyship).


If a peer dies, his wife's style does not change unless the new peer is married. If he is married, traditionally the widowed peeress puts "Dowager" in her style, i.e. "The Most Hon. The Marchioness of London" becomes "The Most Hon. The Dowager Marchioness of London." However, in more recent times, due to negative connotations of the word "Dowager," many widows choose to be styled as a divorcee, except keeping their style. So, "The Rt. Hon. The Viscountess London" becomes "The Rt. Hon. Mary, Viscountess London."

If a widowed peeresses son predeceases her, her daughter-in-law may not use the Dowager styling and must use the Christian name designation until her mother-in-law dies, in which case she may use the Dowager title.

Courtesy Titles for Heirs of Dukes

Peer Son Grandson Great-grandson
The Duke of Norfolk Earl of Arundel and Surrey Lord Maltravers  
The Duke of Somerset Lord Seymour    
The Duke of Richmond and Gordon Earl of March and Kinrara Lord Settrington  
The Duke of Grafton Earl of Euston Viscount Ipswich  
The Duke of Beaufort Marquess of Worcester Earl of Glamorgan Viscount Grosmont
The Duke of Saint Albans Earl of Burford Lord Vere of Hanworth  
The Duke of Bedford Marquess of Tavistock Lord Howland  
The Duke of Devonshire Marquess of Hartington Earl of Burlington Lord Cavendish
The Duke of Marlborough Marquess of Blandford Earl of Sunderland Lord Churchill
The Duke of Rutland Marquess of Granby Lord Manners  
The Duke of Hamilton and Brandon Marquess of Douglas and Clydesdale Earl of Angus Lord Abernethy
The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry Earl of Dalkeith Lord Eskdaill  
The Duke of Argyll Marquess of Lorne Earl of Campbell Viscount Lochaw
The Duke of Atholl Marquess of Tullibardine Earl of Strathtay Viscount Balquhidder
The Duke of Montrose Marquess of Graham Earl of Kincardine Viscount Dundaff
The Duke of Roxburghe Marquess of Bowmont and Cessford Earl of Kelso Viscount Broxmouth
The Duke of Manchester Viscount Mandeville Lord Kimbolton  
The Duke of Northumberland Earl Percy Lord Lovaine  
The Duke of Leinster Marquess of Kildare Earl of Offaly Baron Offaly
The Duke of Abercorn Marquess of Hamilton Viscount Strabane  
The Duke of Wellington Marquess of Douro Earl of Mornington Viscount Wellesley
The Duke of Sutherland Marquess of Stafford Earl Gower Viscount Trentham
The Duke of Westminster Earl Grosvenor Viscount Belgrave  
The Duke of Fife Earl of Southesk Lord Carnegie  
The Duke of Gloucester Earl of Ulster Lord Culloden  
The Duke of Kent Earl of St Andrews Lord Downpatrick  
The Duke of Edinburgh Earl of Merioneth Lord Greenwich  
The Duke of York Earl of Inverness Lord Killyleagh  

Courtesy Titles for Heirs of Marquesses

Peer Son Grandson
The Marquess of Winchester Earl of Wiltshire Lord St John
The Marquess of Huntly Earl of Aboyne Lord Strathavon and Glenlivet
The Marquess of Queensberry Viscount Drumlanrig  
The Marquess of Tweeddale Earl of Gifford Viscount Walden
The Marquess of Lothian Earl of Ancram Lord Newbottle
The Marquess of Lansdowne Earl of Kerry/Shelburne Viscount Clanmaurice
The Marquess Townshend Viscount Raynham  
The Marquess of Salisbury Viscount Cranborne  
The Marquess of Bath Viscount Weymouth  
The Marquess of Hertford Earl of Yarmouth Viscount Beauchamp
The Marquess of Bute Earl of Dumfries Viscount Mountjoy
The Marquess of Waterford Earl of Tyrone Lord Beresford
The Marquess of Downshire Earl of Hillsborough Viscount Kilwarlin
The Marquess of Donegall Earl of Belfast Viscount Chichester
The Marquess of Headfort Earl of Bective Lord Kenlis
The Marquess of Sligo Earl of Altamont Viscount Westport
The Marquess of Ely Viscount Loftus  
The Marquess Conyngham Earl of Mount Charles Viscount Slane
The Marquess of Londonderry Viscount Castlereagh Lord Stewart
The Marquess of Exeter Lord Burghley  
The Marquess of Northampton Earl Compton Lord Wilmington
The Marquess Camden Earl of Brecknock Viscount Bayham
The Marquess of Anglesey Earl of Uxbridge Lord Paget
The Marquess of Cholmondeley Earl of Rocksavage Viscount Malpas
The Marquess of Ailesbury Earl of Cardigan Viscount Savernake
The Marquess of Bristol Earl Jermyn Lord Hervey
The Marquess of Ailsa Earl of Cassilis Lord Kennedy
The Marquess of Normanby Earl of Mulgrave Lord Phipps
The Marquess of Abergavenny Earl of Lewes Viscount Nevill
The Marquess of Zetland Earl of Ronaldshay Lord Dundas
The Marquess of Linlithgow Earl of Hopetoun Viscount Aithrie
The Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair Earl of Haddo Viscount Formartine
The Marquess of Milford Haven Earl of Medina Viscount Alderney
The Marquess of Reading Viscount Erleigh  

Courtesy Titles for Heirs of Earls

Peer Son
The Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford Viscount Ingestre
The Earl of Derby Lord Stanley
The Earl of Huntingdon Viscount Hastings
The Earl of Devon Lord Courtenay
The Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery Lord Herbert
The Earl of Lincoln  
The Earl of Suffolk and Berkshire Viscount Andover
The Earl of Denbigh and Desmond Viscount Feilding
The Earl of Westmorland Lord Burghersh
The Earl of Lindsey and Abingdon Lord Norreys
The Earl of Winchilsea and Nottingham Viscount Maidstone
The Earl of Sandwich Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The Earl of Essex Viscount Malden
The Earl of Carlisle Viscount Morpeth
The Earl of Shaftesbury Lord Ashley
The Earl of Portland Viscount Woodstock
The Earl of Scarbrough Viscount Lumley
The Earl of Albemarle Viscount Bury
The Earl of Coventry Viscount Deerhurst
The Earl of Jersey Viscount Villiers/Grandison
The Earl of Mar Lord Garioch
The Earl of Sutherland Lord Strathnaver
The Earl of Crawford and Balcarres Lord Lindsay
The Earl of Mar and Kellie Viscount Fentoun
The Earl of Erroll Lord Hay
The Earl of Caithness Lord Berriedale
The Earl of Rothes Lord Leslie
The Earl of Morton Lord Aberdour
The Earl of Buchan Lord Cardross
The Earl of Eglinton and Winton Lord Montgomerie
The Earl of Moray Lord Doune
The Earl of Home Lord Dunglass
The Earl of Perth Viscount Strathallan
The Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne Lord Glamis
The Earl of Haddington Lord Binning
The Earl of Galloway Lord Garlies
The Earl of Lauderdale Viscount Maitland
The Earl of Lindsay Viscount Garnock
The Earl of Loudoun Lord Mauchline
The Earl of Kinnoull Viscount Dupplin
The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine Lord Bruce
The Earl of Wemyss and March Lord Elcho/Neidpath
The Earl of Dalhousie Lord Ramsay
The Earl of Airlie Lord Ogilvy
The Earl of Leven and Melville Lord Balgonie
The Earl of Dysart Lord Huntingtower
The Earl of Selkirk Lord Daer
The Earl of Northesk Lord Rosehill
The Earl of Dundee Lord Scrymgeour
The Earl of Newburgh Viscount Kynnaird
The Earl of Annandale and Hartfell Lord Johnstone
The Earl of Dundonald Lord Cochrane
The Earl of Kintore Lord Inverurie
The Earl of Dunmore Viscount Fincastle
The Earl of Orkney Viscount Kirkwall
The Earl of Seafield Viscount Reidhaven
The Earl of Stair Viscount Dalrymple
The Earl of Rosebery Lord Primrose/Dalmeny
The Earl of Glasgow Viscount Kelburn
The Earl Ferrers Viscount Tamworth
The Earl of Dartmouth Viscount Lewisham
The Earl of Tankerville Lord Ossulston
The Earl of Aylesford Lord Guernsey
The Earl of Macclesfield Viscount Parker
The Earl Waldegrave Viscount Chewton
The Earl of Harrington Viscount Petersham
The Earl of Portsmouth Viscount Lymington
The Earl of Warwick Lord Brooke
The Earl of Buckinghamshire Lord Hobart
The Earl of Guilford Lord North
The Earl of Hardwicke Viscount Royston
The Earl of Ilchester Lord Stavordale
The Earl De La Warr Lord Buckhurst
The Earl of Radnor Viscount Folkestone
The Earl Spencer Viscount Althorp
The Earl Bathurst Lord Apsley
The Earl of Clarendon Lord Hyde
The Earl of Mansfield and Mansfield Viscount Stormont
The Earl of Mount Edgcumbe Viscount Valletort
The Earl Fortescue Viscount Ebrington
The Earl Cadogan Viscount Chelsea
The Earl of Malmesbury Viscount FitzHarris
The Earl of Cork and Orrery Viscount Dungarvan
The Earl of Westmeath Lord Delvin
The Earl of Meath Lord Ardee
The Earl of Drogheda Viscount Moore
The Earl of Granard Lord Forbes
The Earl of Darnley Lord Clifton
The Earl of Egmont Viscount Perceval
The Earl of Bessborough Viscount Duncannon
The Earl of Carrick Viscount Ikerrin
The Earl of Shannon Viscount Boyle
The Earl of Arran Viscount Sudley
The Earl of Courtown Viscount Stopford
The Earl of Mexborough Viscount Pollington
The Earl Winterton Viscount Turnour
The Earl of Kingston Viscount Kingsborough
The Earl of Roden Viscount Jocelyn
The Earl of Lisburne Viscount Vaughan
The Earl of Clanwilliam Lord Gillford
The Earl of Antrim Viscount Dunluce
The Earl of Longford Lord Silchester
The Earl of Portarlington Viscount Carlow
The Earl of Mayo Lord Naas
The Earl Annesley Viscount Glerawly
The Earl of Enniskillen Viscount Cole
The Earl of Erne Viscount Crichton
The Earl of Lucan Lord Bingham
The Earl Belmore Viscount Corry
The Earl Castle Stewart Lord Stuart
The Earl of Donoughmore Viscount Suirdale
The Earl of Caledon Lord Alexander
The Earl of Limerick Viscount Glentworth
The Earl of Clancarty Viscount Dunlo
The Earl of Gosford Lord Worlingham
The Earl of Rosse Lord Oxmantown
The Earl of Normanton Viscount Somerton
The Earl of Kilmorey Viscount Newry and Mourne
The Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl Viscount Adare
The Earl of Listowel Viscount Ennismore
The Earl of Norbury Viscount Glandine
The Earl of Ranfurly Viscount Northland
The Earl of Rosslyn Lord Loughborough
The Earl of Craven Viscount Uffington
The Earl of Onslow Viscount Cranley
The Earl of Romney Viscount Marsham
The Earl of Chichester Lord Pelham
The Earl of Wilton Viscount Grey de Wilton
The Earl of Powis Viscount Clive
The Earl Nelson Viscount Merton
The Earl Grey Viscount Howick
The Earl of Lonsdale Viscount Lowther
The Earl of Harrowby Viscount Sandon
The Earl of Harewood Viscount Lascelles
The Earl of Minto Viscount Melgund
The Earl Cathcart Lord Greenock
The Earl of Verulam Viscount Grimston
The Earl of Saint Germans Lord Eliot
The Earl of Morley Viscount Boringdon
The Earl of Bradford Viscount Newport
The Earl of Eldon Viscount Encombe
The Earl Howe Viscount Curzon
The Earl of Stradbroke Viscount Dunwich
The Earl Temple of Stowe Lord Langton
The Earl Cawdor Viscount Emlyn
The Earl of Lichfield Viscount Anson
The Earl of Durham Viscount Lambton
The Earl Granville Lord Leveson
The Earl of Effingham Lord Howard of Effingham
The Earl of Ducie Lord Moreton
The Earl of Yarborough Lord Worsley
The Earl of Leicester Viscount Coke
The Earl of Lovelace Viscount Ockham
The Earl of Gainsborough Viscount Campden
The Earl of Strafford Viscount Enfield
The Earl of Cottenham Viscount Crowhurst
The Earl Cowley Viscount Dangan
The Earl of Dudley Viscount Ednam
The Earl Russell Viscount Amberley
The Earl of Cromartie Viscount Tarbat
The Earl of Kimberley Lord Wodehouse
The Earl of Wharncliffe Viscount Carlton
The Earl Cairns Viscount Garmoyle
The Earl of Lytton Viscount Knebworth
The Earl of Selborne Viscount Wolmer
The Earl of Iddesleigh Viscount St Cyres
The Earl of Cranbrook Lord Medway
The Earl of Halsbury Viscount Tiverton
The Earl of Cromer Viscount Errington
The Earl of Plymouth Viscount Windsor
The Earl of Liverpool Viscount Hawkesbury
The Earl Kitchener of Khartoum Viscount Broome
The Earl Saint Aldwyn Viscount Quenington
The Earl Beatty Viscount Borodale
The Earl Haig Viscount Dawick
The Earl of Iveagh Viscount Elveden
The Earl of Balfour Viscount Traprain
The Earl of Oxford and Asquith Viscount Asquith
The Earl Jellicoe Viscount Brocas
The Earl of Inchcape Viscount Glenapp
The Earl Peel Viscount Clanfield
The Earl Baldwin of Bewdley Viscount Corvedale
The Earl of Halifax Lord Irwin
The Earl of Gowrie Viscount Ruthven of Canberra
The Earl Lloyd George Viscount Gwynedd
The Earl Mountbatten of Burma Lord Romsey
The Earl Alexander of Tunis Lord Rideau
The Earl of Swinton Lord Masham
The Earl Attlee Viscount Prestwood
The Earl of Snowdon Viscount Linley
The Earl of Stockton Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden
The Earl of Wessex Viscount Severn
Last updated: 10-12-2005 15:17:45
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