Dukes, Marquises, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons

These are the five ranks, in order, of the British peerage. "British dukes rank next to princes and princesses of the blood royal, the two archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Lord Chancellor &c, but beyond this precedence they have no special privileges which are not shared by peers of lower rank" (103). All peers (the word means "equal") enjoy the right of audience with the reigning monarch, and freedom from arrest in civil cases. English peers are automatically entitled to vote in the House of Lords once they reach their twenty-first year. Although most of their titles are hereditary and their children are granted titles of courtesy, those children (other than the eldest son) are essentially commoners and have never formed a privileged caste" (105). Ranking below the peers are baronets and knights. A baronet's title is hereditary, a knight's is not. Members of the British nobility (other than the royal family) receive no income from the government. They are expected to survive on the rents derived from the property granted their ancestors or from charging the public to tramp through their estates. They may even find gainful employment. While on the subject of noble titles, we might as well consider what Brewer (56) has to say under the heading "Courtesy Titles." These are titles granted by social custom, but are of no legal value. The courtesy title of the eldest son of a duke is marquis; of a marquis: earl; of an earl: viscount. Younger sons of peers can affix Lord to their names, while daughters affix Lady.