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header - To All and Sundry
We have been recently approached by several journalists searching for a story on the sale of bogus titles and asking why people buy them. They assume we can easily supply the answers, but these are many, and new ones appear from time to time. We reported a couple of months ago on the man who advertised his "lord of the manor title" to attract pretty women to share his "lord of the manor" lifestyle. We have now encountered one who uses his supposed advance to aristocratic status to found an order of chivalry, and then from this platform to award (not sell) yet more "titles" to those "already possessing heritable honours and titles of nobility".
We do not target the buyers of bogus titles as we do indeed target the merchants who sell them. If they wish to inhabit a fantasy world in their own time, without harm to others, they have the same rights (as we have observed before) as anyone staying at a dude ranch or re-enacting mediaeval battles. (We do insist however that they do not require that they be addressed as Lord and Lady.) Accordingly, in the normal course of events we should not have written about the man who sports this hideous armorial achievement on his website. However, he sought our attention by writing two offensive letters that challenged us to write about him and threatened prosecution if we did so.
Apart from the challenge, there are three good reasons to write about his website. First is his belief that he is fons honorum ~ that he has the power to found an order of chivalry (a power reserved to sovereigns, which term, of course, has always included the Pope). He does not sell membership of the order he has founded, "The Most Noble Order of the Sword", but the fees for membership are as high as £300 per annum. (As the order has been registered in English law as a non-profit organisation, he claims that it has been recognised by "the Secretary of State of Her Majesty's Government" ~ but there are several Secretaries of State, and the departmental recognition accorded was as a non-profit organisation, not as an order of chivalry.)
Second is his use of his "titles". His first letter to the Editor was signed "Gary, Baron of Richecourt", but on his website he describes himself as "Lord Beaver". presumably on the basis of holding the "Lordship of the manor of Newport", and one of his e-mail addresses uses the style of "Lord Newport". The "Barony of Richecourt" is, we assume, French, as is the ugly armorial achievement above right that disfigures his web pages. (The wedding ring with its three loops of seed pearls is supposed to represent the coronet of a French baron, although the loops are usually bendwise, not bendwise sinister. The squiggles on its malformed shield appear to be an ignorant imitation of diapering executed by a drunken graffiti scribbler. The lions supposedly rampant are flatfooted pussycats.) So far as the "Lord Beaver" address is concerned ~ manorial lordships do not qualify their owners to be styled as Lords even when they are genuine (and as his website quotes directly from the website of Manor Titles Ltd, there is a suspicion that the manorial lordship of Newport may be one of the egregious "styled, titled, name and legend" trademarks sold by that company as manorial titles carrying the right to be addressed as "Lord and Lady" ~ and thus bogus).

But it is the third reason that pushed us into writing this article. Just as the invention of television persuaded the optimistic that we now had a superb means of education in our hands, so too did the general introduction of the Internet. Unfortunately, the old law of "rubbish in, rubbish out" still holds, and the Internet now promises to be even worse than television on its most ignorant days. The "Gary of Richecourt, Beaver of Newport" website is a prime example, for here, in order to pipe some credibility onto the "manorial title" he recounts the history of the Lordship of the Isle of Wight (of which Newport is a part) in such a way as to confuse his readers (accidentally, of course) about the difference between the two.

Let us look now at this extraordinary document.

Incidentally, in respect of the threatened prosecution, we are not being especially brave. The quotations used here and on the next page, and also the armorial figure top right on this page, are published as exceptions provided by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for "fair dealing for the purposes of criticism or review or reporting current events".

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