Titles for Sale ?
The development of the Internet. has been a scam merchant's dream. It was so even before it could allow instantaneous commercial transactions, but now that the late-night reader, drifting tiredly and incautiously from site to site, may be persuaded to type in sixteen digits and an expiry date, the superhighway has become a fast track to easy riches.
Our interest is in the bucket shops selling "your coat of arms" and "the distinguished history of your name" ~ and in the sharks selling fake titles of nobility to insomniacs.
This month we wish to look at one of the title scams.
Now why should anyone wish to buy a title that can be bought? What value can that have? Let us allow the merchant to explain. Here he is ~
That all seems fairly straightforward, but look carefully at the following:
Well, that seems to be straight speaking!
So, what is on offer?
Well, how do you feel about a title now?
Do you wish to read on?
LOWEST PRICES ON REAL NOBILITY TITLES
A Note from the Editor
It is, of course, almost unnecessary to state explicitly that the sales pitch set out above is all flummery, humbug, moonshine.
We could perhaps have ignored it, but we have been receiving enquiries from potential purchasers asking us whether these titles are real, whether the vendors are honest men, and if, after the enquirer has bought such a title, we could assure the buyer's friends that it is authentic.
Readers will have noted that no peerage titles are offered in the text reproduced here. (Although not mentioned above, there are "knighthoods" available also, but we shall ignore those for the present.) So we are thus dealing with feudal titles and imitations of feudal titles, and we appear also to be dealing with invitations to pass them off, once they have been bought, as peerage titles. Some of the feudal titles are Scottish in style (which is not to say that they are authentic), some may be Irish and some may be English or Irish manorial titles (that is, they are properties that carry the notional status of a "Lord of the Manor".)
A few centuries ago most of the genuine holders of such titles were noble by definition and the proof of that nobility (the test of that nobility) was the lawful possession of a coat of arms. Arms were and are the ensigns of nobility, and thus we have a simple test that can establish immediately whether the titles being sold are titles of nobility. Will the buyer be recognised by the relevant heraldic authority as the holder of a noble title? In Scotland the authority is the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and no one may present himself as an authentic laird, a noble, unless he bears arms lawfully granted, matriculated or recognised by the Lord Lyon.
Thus the man who pays his 365 dollars to become the Laird of Camster will receive his one square foot of land and his "deed", but the "coat of arms" promised will be a picture of arms that are not his, he will not be recognised by the Lord Lyon, and if he pretends to be a laird (or, as is advised, a lord) he will risk prosecution for false pretences when he uses that pretence to assist any simple commercial transaction (such as, for example, hiring a car). Moreover, it is unlawful in Scotland to use or display any arms unauthorised by the Lord Lyon. The penalties for first offences include confiscation of property and a fine, but second offences may merit imprisonment. That is the law, and the law is still valid. (A plea that the offender has paid US$365 for the arms will not amount to an adequate defence.)
It is possible to buy an authentic title in Scotland. We have been used occasionally by law firms to advise clients on such transactions, on their historical and financial value, and on their validity as titles of nobility. As a consequence of that experience it is worth noting that a genuine feudal barony can be sold for US$120,000 and a genuine feudal lordship (a barony of a higher degree) for US$180,000. Baronies whose documentation is less than perfect may be sold for lower prices, and then their status as baronies may be perfected by their new owner later. Prices such as those quoted above for Camster and Muness indicate immediately their worthlessness as titles of nobility (and manorial titles do not today confer nobility, nor do they justify use of "Lord" as a personal title).
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