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The Editor
These pages and those which will be added with future editions of the Baronage magazine contain the Editor's answers to some of the most frequently asked questions sent to him during the last six years.
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I have been offered an ancient English feudal barony with a lot of detail about its early holders, but nothing about the last six hundred years except the assurance that it stayed in the same family. Can I be confident that it continues to exist ?
You must use a lawyer, of course. However, before spending money on his fees, take a look at the progress of the title (the documents that hand it on to each successor). Does this refer always to "omnes et singulas terras baronie de ......." or similar? No! English baronies were ended by Act of Parliament in 1660.
I have seen the very impressive website of British Feudal Investments. Do you recommend them?
No. Under no circumstances should this firm or its owner be considered.
I think I've now read everything you've written about the sale of titles on the Baronage pages, but I still want to buy a genuine one. Where can I go? Why don't you publish a list of trustworthy dealers?
Genuine manorial titles can usually be bought safely if you use a lawyer, but manorial lordships are not "titles of dignity". Scottish baronial titles, of course, are noble "titles of dignity", and you could brief a Scottish lawyer to find one for you, or you could ask us at Baronage. We cannot recommend any other "titles". Instead of publishing the names of trustworthy dealers, we insist that intending buyers retain their own lawyers, not lawyers recommended by the vendors or the vendors' agents.
You don't have a high opinion of companies that trade in titles, do you?
In general, no! A cautious, conservative figure for the proportion of "titles" offered on the Internet that are bogus is 99 per cent. Owing to the fact that some merchants operate only on the Internet, and that these are almost wholly fraudulent, then we may suggest that the percentage of bogus titles offered elsewhere is perhaps lower.
I have been reading on a website that if I buy a title I will receive better treatment in restaurants, from my bank manager, on airlines (where I will be usually upgraded free of charge) and from business associates. Do you think this is true? Do you think it ought to be true?
We asked a genuine peer with a very senior title who flies business class when alone and in tourist class when on holiday with his family. He is in his fifties and has held one title or another since childhood. He said that he had never, ever been upgraded (and that obviously he would have to think seriously about buying one of these magic "titles" for this reason alone ~ if the upgrades were guaranteed, of course).
I have been offered a title that, I am told, will certainly appreciate in value as soon as the market recovers from "the temporary drop" caused by terrorist activity on the airlines. Do you agree with this?
No. Moreover if this is a British company giving you such advice, unless it has a licence to give financial advice it is breaking the law. As a general rule, as well as having an independent lawyer to advise you on the purchase of a title, it is best to terminate all dealings with any "titles" merchant who offers investment advice.
We are going to sue you. What is your address for service?
Let us have the name, address, telephone number and e-mail address of your lawyer and we shall arrange a venue for prompt delivery of your writ. Many writs have threatened, but none has yet appeared, so you have the opportunity to score a first.
I am a romantic novelist and I want to make sure that I get the use of titles right in my new book about ....... century England. Can you help?
We are willing to read through final manuscripts submitted by publishers' editors. Authors working on their early drafts are advised to buy a copy of Debrett's Correct Form from Debrett's, London (ISBN 0 905649 00 1). A good elementary guide is Honours and Titles published by HMSO (ISBN 011 701 691 8).
Can you recommend a book that explains the meaning of heraldic signs?
In the general sense heraldic signs, by which we think you mean the charges on a shield or flag, do not have specific meanings that can be printed in dictionary format. In individual cases, and very occasionally in a small group of cases, a specific charge might have a specific meaning (such as the oak tree in the arms of men who helped Charles II escape the Roundheads), but it is rare. Additionally, a few charges (a very few) may, as in the case of bastardy, have a (sometimes unreliable) meaning. The few exceptions aside, charges do not have unique meanings.
I've seen it said that black on a shield means a royal connection. What do the other colours mean?
Yes, we saw that explanation of black in a shopping mall "heraldic boutique". It is nonsense. In the very early days of heraldry the choice of colours was influenced by political or marriage alliances. Such factors may be among those considered for new grants today, but in general colours have no meanings.
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