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The viscount's headless body has been found in the wood. His lovely widow has collapsed, griefstricken. His estranged son and heir, the new Lord Alfred Bloodstock, together with his wife, Lady Lucy Bloodstock, formerly Miss Lucy Scruggs of music hall fame, newly arrived from Australia, being obvious imposters, are the most likely suspects. Another TV mystery serial has begun.
Two weeks later we learn that the son and Lady Lucy are not impostors, that they are completely guiltless, and that the real murderer is the lovely griefstricken widow. How could we have been so deceived?
Easily! We have again been misled by a scriptwriter who has failed to check the dialogue of his aristocratic inventions.
In this case the new viscount is Lord Bloodstock and his wife is now thus Lady Bloodstock. Unless impostors, they would not refer to themselves as Lord Alfred Bloodstock and Lady Lucy Bloodstock. Nor would their friends describe them as such. In casual conversation reference might be made to Alfred or to Lucy, but not to Lord Alfred or to Lady Lucy. (As Bloodstock's friends would know, Lord Alfred would be the son of a duke or marquess, and Lady Lucy would be the daughter of a duke or marquess or earl.)
Journals, even the so-called "quality" papers, have their weaknesses too, as their comments following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, revealed. Their understanding of flags, for example, is generally poor. And a "crest" is not a valid synonym for a coat of arms or an armorial achievement or a badge, yet editors would consistently have their readers believe so.
The intention of this Guide is to offer an online reference for Journalists and Authors seeking to eliminate such errors from their work. It will treat first with the simplest principles of heraldry and the use of titles, and will provide hyperlinks to more extensive explanations of the details.
Additional pages will appear each month.
© 1998 The Baronage Press and Pegasus Associates