"Buy a Noble Title and Become a Lord"

The market for manorial titles (those feudal titles that proclaim their holders to be "a lord of the manor") has developed to the stage that the demand apparently requires new titles to be created. This cannot, of course, be done lawfully. The legal framework of the mediaeval centuries no longer exists. Time has moved on. The new millenium approaches.

But need that worry us?

What, after all, is a title other than a string of words?

So let's string a few words together. Let's look into our history books for the names of manors that existed in feudal times but no longer exist today. Some of them have interesting names that could be the basis of some fairly impressive "titles". Let's take those names. They are no longer attached to their original lands, because those lands ceased to be manors centuries ago, but need that worry us? No, of course not.

Right, then. Let's claim copyright in the name. Let's go and register it as a trademark at the Patent Office in the style of "Lord of the Manor of Name". Now we have something that can be sold, just as trademarks and all intellectual rights can be sold. In fact, we can now claim that the trademark is a title recognised by the British Government. WOW!

Landed Gentry Titles logo
Naturally, we'll have to dress it up a bit. Bloggeston was held by Robert Blogges in 1120. His overlord was Edward Buggins. When Robert died without heirs circa 1121, Edward gave the manor as dowry for his daughter, and when it was integrated with the estates of her husband it lost its separate identity. That was in 1122. So it has a history. Great!
Now the ownership of a lordship of a manor is treated in English law as being separate from the actual lands of the manor, so if we sell the trademark of a "lord of the manor" it can appear as if we are selling a lordship of a manor, and the absence of any lands can be explained by a lawyer as being perfectly normal in English law. Of course, the extinction of the noble status enjoyed by the original holder of the manor, the extinction of the feudal rights that he enjoyed, need not be explained. We can just refer to the trademark, and to whatever intellectual rights we associate with it, as the property, and the title to that property will be the title that is sold. (It's fortunate that the word "title" is so flexible in its application ~ and actually we can describe the property as "the styled titled name or legend".)
But the punters buying manorial titles want to use them as personal titles of dignity. They want to persuade headwaiters and airline stewardesses that they are genuine lords, and we shall emphasise this in our sales pitch. So we'll make them members of a Landed Gentry Society. That will sound impressive. We can give them regalia to show their friends. And we can encourage them to style themselves as Lord Smith of Bloggeston, or as Lord Smith, even though we tell them that the correct form for any manorial lord who actually uses a manorial style is "Lord of the Manor of Bloggeston". Landed Gentry Society badge
Actually, this last bit could be dangerous. We have to be careful here. We daren't give them the chance to ask for their money back. Let's put it this way:
Correct ~ Aloysius Z. Smith, Lord of the Manor of Bloggeston
Custom & practice ~ Lord Bloggeston, or Lord of Bloggeston

One of our researchers asked: "This 'custom and practice' ~ when did it begin and who began it?" But there was no intelligible answer.

In reality, this 'custom and practice' began with the sudden expansion in the market for manorial titles. It is thus very modern. It is too modern to appear in any reputable "Guide to Titles and Forms of Address" or in any published book on etiquette. It is far too modern for this 'custom and practice' to appear in any literary work. Galsworthy and Trollope, Austen and the Brontes, were obviously quite unaware of it, although they took pains to use social style correctly. It is a very recent and very dishonest invention, neither custom nor practice.

And the style described as "Correct"? This is not a feudal title and it is not a style. It is a description, a form of words of recent usage, introduced when purchasers of manorial titles (authentic ones with real property attached, or which had had until recently real property attached) wanted some phrase to distinguish them from the common herd. But it was not a style used at the time these obscure and ancient manors really did have a lord.

Who are these companies selling trademarks as titles of honour and dignity?

Whose logos are those shown at the top of this page?


Caveat Emptor ~ Part Two
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