October 6

18 comments

A Much Needed Guide to Regency Titles!

One frustrating, yet fascinating thing is how well the people did back then when it comes to remembering all those forms of address!

Your Grace, My Lord, Your Highness? How??

And because of their complicated hierarchy, we often end up confused ourselves. How often do we fall into the trap of introducing a Viscount by using the wrong title. Or a Duchess? 

Sometimes it makes me want to pull my hair out! And I bet that happens to you too 😀

So I thought I should create a more simplified list, which will make everything clear and help us avoid the endless hair pulling. 

Ahem… Let’s start!

Regency History: A Regency History guide to dukes, marquesses and other  titles

1) Dukes

Dukes are a special case. And a loved one. 

I’ll spare you the frustrating and unnecessary details, but a Duke is almost always addressed as “Your Grace” and never as “My Lord”. The only exception is when there’s a formal situation, where someone could call him “My Lord Duke” and it wouldn’t be considered a scandal!

He would be introduced as “His Grace, the Duke of (title here)” and not as just “the Duke of”! 

So now let’s start introducing the relatives!

A Duke’s mother would be addressed as “Her Grace” and “Your Grace”. She would also be called “Madam”. 

A Duke’s wife would be addressed exactly the same. 

A Duke’s eldest son would be a Marquess, so he would be addressed as “My Lord”. 

And a Duke’s youngest son would be addressed as “My Lord”. 

Ooof! A bit of a pain, but I guess with some practice you’d remember. 

And since he’s of the most “superior”, you better not mess it up! 😀

2) Marquesses 

62 Best The Marquess and the Midwife images | Marquess, Regency dress, Regency  era

A Marquess is officially announced as “The Most Hon'ble, Marquess of (title)”. Unlike Dukes, they’re simply addressed as “My Lord”!

Now for the relatives:

A Marquesses’ wife, would be addressed as “Madam” and also as the “The Marchioness”. 

A Marquesses’ mother would be addressed as “Madam” as well. 

A Marquess’ eldest son would be an Earl and in turn, addressed as “My Lord”. 

And a Marquess' youngest son would be addressed as “My Lord”. 

Getting a bit easier now!

3) Earls

Regency era - Wikipedia

Just like Marquesses, an Earl is addressed as “My Lord” and is officially announced as “The Right Honble, The Earl of (title)”. 

An Earl’s wife and daughter would be addressed as “Madam”. 

An Earl’s eldest son would be addressed as “My Lord”. 

And an Earl’s youngest son would be addressed as “Sir”. 

4) Viscounts

For Viscounts, it’s exactly same as the Earls 😀 

Always “My Lord” and never “Sir”!

A mother and a wife would be called “Madam”. 

The eldest and youngest son would both be called “Sir” and “Dear Sir”.

5) Barons

Not much of a difference here. “My Lord”, just like the rest 🙂

As for the wife and daughter, it’s always “Madam”. 

And eldest and youngest son are always “Sir” and “Dear Sir”!

Regency England

One thing I couldn’t find much information on - but oh my, how I wish I had - is how people reacted when they used the wrong title!

Imagine someone calling a Duke “Sir”. How would it be received? What would they do? 😀

It’d be so interesting to find some real life examples of that. Not only does it sound terrified for the person on the receiving end, but also hilarious!

-Written by, Olivia Bennet


Tags

Articles, Regency Romance


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  • Thank you so much for the info on titles and such like. Also, duke’s wives would be addressed as the Duchess of such and such, and wouldn’t earl’s wives be addressed as the Countess of such and such?

  • Thank you so much for the great information! I’m fascinated with how important these titles were and I’m learning more with each and every book I read. It’s really a lot of fun!!

  • Oh my Olivia,I’m delighted we do not have all of those titles in the USA. I’m positive I’d muck that up but good. I’d only hope that when I addressed them wrong that they’d have a sense of humor. Thanks for sharing.

  • I would fail that course, what if you did not know there rank if you did not know them, just cutesy and walk away is it still like that over in that area.

  • I knew most of those, but thank you. The address of servants is a little complicated too, I think. The upper servants – butler, housekeeper, valet, dresser, cook, head gardener – would be by last name or occasionally with the Mr or Mrs, (especially for the Housekeeper). Maids and footmen and assistant gardeners would be first names. (I’ve heard Coachmen were known as John Coachman and female cooks as Cook, though males might be Mr.) Stewards were Mr. when I read books with mistitled servants, it sets my teeth on edge and I deduct stars for inadequate research. More serious if the reference is uneven – sometimes with Mrs. Sometmes without. The below stairs hierarchy was as regulated as above stairs.

    • Thank you for your comment, Gareth 🙂 Yes, it seems Regency people loved to make things as complicated as possible 😀 But then again, it’s not that different from our rules 🙂

  • Thank you for the information – it is very helpful to see it explained like this. I had no idea how complicated it was and I’m glad I don’t have to remember all that now.

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