Aristocratic Century: The Peerage of Eighteenth-Century England

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In other words, not everyone with a title is an aristocrat.

French nobility

By the same token, the possession of a title does not automatically raise its possessor above the entire untitled world. An ancient though untitled family of great wealth could easily be higher on the social scale than a recently created title. We see in Pride and Prejudice that Darcy, who is untitled, does not have much time for the attentions of Sir William Lucas. In the words of English critic B. Jane Austen does not set store by these distinctions herself. They are there, part of the whole network of pride and prejudice with which her heroine must contend.

The English aristocracy, traditionally small and changing, presents a sharp contrast to the larger, more self-contained aristocracies of continental Europe. In continental nobilities, the titles of Prince and Princess are not confined to the Royal Family, as in England, and every child of a Prince becomes a Prince, every son of a Duke becomes a Duke. In England, only the eldest son of a peer inherits the title of the father; the rest of the children are commoners by law.

If, as Tocqueville said, the idea of the gentleman saved England from a revolution, the structure of the aristocracy helped to make this possible. English younger sons and daughters were often pushed downward into contact with persons of the upper-middle class in order to bring about profitable marriages. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

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The British Peerage

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Here is the title hierarchy : I. Like this: Like Loading Comments RSS feed. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.


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Search for:. Contemporary Literature An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later. Create a free website or blog at WordPress. In a Bill introduced in the House of Lords designed strictly to limit the number of new peerage creations was defeated in the House of Commons. It was said that the Commons wished to keep the way to the upper House "as open and as easy as possible".

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Two "wild acts of anti-Scottish prejudice" made it impossible for Scottish peers who had also been created peers of Great Britain for their work in advocating or cementing the Union to sit in the House of Lords as peers of Great Britain. In the Lords laid down that a peer of Great Britain "might neither vote nor give a proxy in the election of representative peers". In they resolved that no Great Britain peerage granted to a Scottish peer entitled him to sit among them. After his majority from , he sat in the House of Lords as Earl Ker. In he succeeded his father as 2nd Duke of Roxburghe, and was excluded from the Lords.


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Eventually in it was established that a Scottish peer who also held a peerage of Great Britain could sit in the House of Lords as a peer of Great Britain.