Titles

NewkidJo here, waffling on a bit about peerage titles. I'm sure I've done this before here, but a few things came together to inspire another go. Why is it that even people who should know better make silly errors in British titles?

Once a duke, always a duke.

I picked up a Regency and put it down again sharpish when in the first pages a duke was also called (Inventing here) Lord Pickingham. I think the author was aware that this was odd and trying to exDucalcoronetplain it by the duke also having the title of Lord Pickingham in his collection, but that's not how it works. It's quite possible that a ducal family could have aquired along the way four baronetcies, three viscountcies, two earldoms and a partridge in a pear tree, but none of them will be used except as titles for his heirs — or in the case of patridge and pear, for dinner. 

For more on that and other details about titles check out my easy guide to titles page. The image is a duke's coronet, worn with his scarlet and ermine robes.Up left we have Billy wearing a very inauthentic crown!

The Smithsonian should know better.

ChatsThen I clicked on a link to an on-line article from the Smithsonian where the writer said that Chatsworth House in Derbyshire was owned by the Duke and Duchess of Cavendish. This is a straight error, but a sloppy one arising from not understanding in the bones that a noble family's surname is rarely their title, and never at the ducal level. The family name is Cavendish. The title is Duke of Devonshire.

Hold on, you might be thinking, being sharp of eye and keen of wit. Didn't I say Chatsworth was in Derbyshire? I did. It is. The story I heard was that when a Cavendish was being raised to Earl of Devonshire in the early 17th century the king made a mistake. It should have been Earl of Derbyshire, but once the king had declared him Earl of Devonshire, no one dared correct it.
Powderham

This is why the Earl of Devon — who lives just down the road in a manner of speaking, at Powderham Castle — is not the Earl of Devonshire.

So should the New York Times.

Yesterday there was a post on the Regency yahoo list about an article in the NYT called Splitsville For Lady Crawley. As someone pointed out, Lady Crawley doesn't exist. The article is satirical, but that loses bite when the headline is wrong. Splitsville for Lady Grantham would have worked just as well.

So should Downton Abbey?

Someone else pointed out that "Lady Violet Crawley" was impossible. True enough, but I don't remember the dowager ever being referred to as Lady Violet, so Lord Fellowes is exonerated, by me, at least.

I think she is referred to as Cousin Violet sometimes, but "cousin" is a convenient but vague term. In my upcoming book, Seduction In Silk, we have the hero, Perry Perriam, and a distant relative, Giles Perriam. The term "Cousin Giles" covers it without implying a close blood tie.

No one in Downton Abbey is Lady Crawley, because Crawley is the surname not the title. The daughters are Lady Firstname Crawley — the correct use of the surname. They are not, ever, Lady Crawley, not even the imperious elder one, Mary.

Let me try another way of looking at this. The title is not the name.

If Pat Macguire is the Mayor of Ballybridge would anyone call him Pat Ballybridge, or Mr. Ballybridge? Well, perhaps the latter if he was seen that way, but not formally. Nor would he be Mayor of Macguire.

Have any howlers to share?

So there are a few a just stumbled over in the past week. Have you come across any recently? Some authors really don't think it matters, and many readers don't care, but Getting Things Wrong Through Sheer Laziness should not be encouraged!

I'm clearly feeling my inner Violet.

Jo

 

85 thoughts on “Titles”

  1. I’ll repost here what I posted on the Regency yahoo list:
    Another English writer who gets the titles wrong is Jacqueline Winspear, in her Maisie Dobbs novels. She has a Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton as recurring characters, where their
    son is called Viscount Compton (and his father is
    still living).
    I admit to writing to her and pointing out that Lord Julian and Lady Rowan are most probably the Earl and Countess of Something-or-other and should be referred to as Lord and Lady Something-or-other, not as Lord Julian and Lady Rowan.
    She never replied, and I continue to read the novels because they are wonderful.
    Oh, and I had already commented on the Smithsonian Blog about the Devonshire title error, but the blogger didn’t correct the posting.

    Reply
  2. I’ll repost here what I posted on the Regency yahoo list:
    Another English writer who gets the titles wrong is Jacqueline Winspear, in her Maisie Dobbs novels. She has a Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton as recurring characters, where their
    son is called Viscount Compton (and his father is
    still living).
    I admit to writing to her and pointing out that Lord Julian and Lady Rowan are most probably the Earl and Countess of Something-or-other and should be referred to as Lord and Lady Something-or-other, not as Lord Julian and Lady Rowan.
    She never replied, and I continue to read the novels because they are wonderful.
    Oh, and I had already commented on the Smithsonian Blog about the Devonshire title error, but the blogger didn’t correct the posting.

    Reply
  3. I’ll repost here what I posted on the Regency yahoo list:
    Another English writer who gets the titles wrong is Jacqueline Winspear, in her Maisie Dobbs novels. She has a Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton as recurring characters, where their
    son is called Viscount Compton (and his father is
    still living).
    I admit to writing to her and pointing out that Lord Julian and Lady Rowan are most probably the Earl and Countess of Something-or-other and should be referred to as Lord and Lady Something-or-other, not as Lord Julian and Lady Rowan.
    She never replied, and I continue to read the novels because they are wonderful.
    Oh, and I had already commented on the Smithsonian Blog about the Devonshire title error, but the blogger didn’t correct the posting.

    Reply
  4. I’ll repost here what I posted on the Regency yahoo list:
    Another English writer who gets the titles wrong is Jacqueline Winspear, in her Maisie Dobbs novels. She has a Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton as recurring characters, where their
    son is called Viscount Compton (and his father is
    still living).
    I admit to writing to her and pointing out that Lord Julian and Lady Rowan are most probably the Earl and Countess of Something-or-other and should be referred to as Lord and Lady Something-or-other, not as Lord Julian and Lady Rowan.
    She never replied, and I continue to read the novels because they are wonderful.
    Oh, and I had already commented on the Smithsonian Blog about the Devonshire title error, but the blogger didn’t correct the posting.

    Reply
  5. I’ll repost here what I posted on the Regency yahoo list:
    Another English writer who gets the titles wrong is Jacqueline Winspear, in her Maisie Dobbs novels. She has a Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton as recurring characters, where their
    son is called Viscount Compton (and his father is
    still living).
    I admit to writing to her and pointing out that Lord Julian and Lady Rowan are most probably the Earl and Countess of Something-or-other and should be referred to as Lord and Lady Something-or-other, not as Lord Julian and Lady Rowan.
    She never replied, and I continue to read the novels because they are wonderful.
    Oh, and I had already commented on the Smithsonian Blog about the Devonshire title error, but the blogger didn’t correct the posting.

    Reply
  6. As you say, it’s so easy to get it right that it can only be laziness which causes it to be wrong. And once you see that, you begin to doubt the rest of the research and the suspension of disbelief fails…

    Reply
  7. As you say, it’s so easy to get it right that it can only be laziness which causes it to be wrong. And once you see that, you begin to doubt the rest of the research and the suspension of disbelief fails…

    Reply
  8. As you say, it’s so easy to get it right that it can only be laziness which causes it to be wrong. And once you see that, you begin to doubt the rest of the research and the suspension of disbelief fails…

    Reply
  9. As you say, it’s so easy to get it right that it can only be laziness which causes it to be wrong. And once you see that, you begin to doubt the rest of the research and the suspension of disbelief fails…

    Reply
  10. As you say, it’s so easy to get it right that it can only be laziness which causes it to be wrong. And once you see that, you begin to doubt the rest of the research and the suspension of disbelief fails…

    Reply
  11. Occasionally you get “help” from the copy editor. *sigh* It happened in my first book and I was out of the country and didn’t get to review the galley. So the hero’s mother’s title, or the lack thereof, was correct in the manuscript, but is wrong in the book. And yes, I got indignant emails. *double sigh*

    Reply
  12. Occasionally you get “help” from the copy editor. *sigh* It happened in my first book and I was out of the country and didn’t get to review the galley. So the hero’s mother’s title, or the lack thereof, was correct in the manuscript, but is wrong in the book. And yes, I got indignant emails. *double sigh*

    Reply
  13. Occasionally you get “help” from the copy editor. *sigh* It happened in my first book and I was out of the country and didn’t get to review the galley. So the hero’s mother’s title, or the lack thereof, was correct in the manuscript, but is wrong in the book. And yes, I got indignant emails. *double sigh*

    Reply
  14. Occasionally you get “help” from the copy editor. *sigh* It happened in my first book and I was out of the country and didn’t get to review the galley. So the hero’s mother’s title, or the lack thereof, was correct in the manuscript, but is wrong in the book. And yes, I got indignant emails. *double sigh*

    Reply
  15. Occasionally you get “help” from the copy editor. *sigh* It happened in my first book and I was out of the country and didn’t get to review the galley. So the hero’s mother’s title, or the lack thereof, was correct in the manuscript, but is wrong in the book. And yes, I got indignant emails. *double sigh*

    Reply
  16. Mis-use of titles is an irritant but a new grammar error that drives me wild is the rampant use (in Historical Romance) of TRY AND DO something–THAT is only from 1990 I believe and it really wrecks the mood with a dash of cold water–ALWAYS people used to say TRY TO do something.
    Just my little pet peeve!

    Reply
  17. Mis-use of titles is an irritant but a new grammar error that drives me wild is the rampant use (in Historical Romance) of TRY AND DO something–THAT is only from 1990 I believe and it really wrecks the mood with a dash of cold water–ALWAYS people used to say TRY TO do something.
    Just my little pet peeve!

    Reply
  18. Mis-use of titles is an irritant but a new grammar error that drives me wild is the rampant use (in Historical Romance) of TRY AND DO something–THAT is only from 1990 I believe and it really wrecks the mood with a dash of cold water–ALWAYS people used to say TRY TO do something.
    Just my little pet peeve!

    Reply
  19. Mis-use of titles is an irritant but a new grammar error that drives me wild is the rampant use (in Historical Romance) of TRY AND DO something–THAT is only from 1990 I believe and it really wrecks the mood with a dash of cold water–ALWAYS people used to say TRY TO do something.
    Just my little pet peeve!

    Reply
  20. Mis-use of titles is an irritant but a new grammar error that drives me wild is the rampant use (in Historical Romance) of TRY AND DO something–THAT is only from 1990 I believe and it really wrecks the mood with a dash of cold water–ALWAYS people used to say TRY TO do something.
    Just my little pet peeve!

    Reply
  21. I see title errors that I can recognize all the time, and if egregious enough (that of a major character, for instance) they are hard to overlook. That said, the rules are complicated, and seem to have lots of exceptions, plus you might have characters referring to someone by a sort of shorthand which wasn’t formally correct but which was clear to them. I’m certainly not an expert and I suspect there are many others that slip under my radar. Still I don’t get why writers aren’t clear on who their characters’ families are, or why if the rules confuse them, they don’t pick a name they do understand.
    But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!

    Reply
  22. I see title errors that I can recognize all the time, and if egregious enough (that of a major character, for instance) they are hard to overlook. That said, the rules are complicated, and seem to have lots of exceptions, plus you might have characters referring to someone by a sort of shorthand which wasn’t formally correct but which was clear to them. I’m certainly not an expert and I suspect there are many others that slip under my radar. Still I don’t get why writers aren’t clear on who their characters’ families are, or why if the rules confuse them, they don’t pick a name they do understand.
    But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!

    Reply
  23. I see title errors that I can recognize all the time, and if egregious enough (that of a major character, for instance) they are hard to overlook. That said, the rules are complicated, and seem to have lots of exceptions, plus you might have characters referring to someone by a sort of shorthand which wasn’t formally correct but which was clear to them. I’m certainly not an expert and I suspect there are many others that slip under my radar. Still I don’t get why writers aren’t clear on who their characters’ families are, or why if the rules confuse them, they don’t pick a name they do understand.
    But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!

    Reply
  24. I see title errors that I can recognize all the time, and if egregious enough (that of a major character, for instance) they are hard to overlook. That said, the rules are complicated, and seem to have lots of exceptions, plus you might have characters referring to someone by a sort of shorthand which wasn’t formally correct but which was clear to them. I’m certainly not an expert and I suspect there are many others that slip under my radar. Still I don’t get why writers aren’t clear on who their characters’ families are, or why if the rules confuse them, they don’t pick a name they do understand.
    But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!

    Reply
  25. I see title errors that I can recognize all the time, and if egregious enough (that of a major character, for instance) they are hard to overlook. That said, the rules are complicated, and seem to have lots of exceptions, plus you might have characters referring to someone by a sort of shorthand which wasn’t formally correct but which was clear to them. I’m certainly not an expert and I suspect there are many others that slip under my radar. Still I don’t get why writers aren’t clear on who their characters’ families are, or why if the rules confuse them, they don’t pick a name they do understand.
    But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!

    Reply
  26. Ufortunately this happens quite frequently – I start reading and have to keep turning back the pages to find out who is who (or whom?). The main character seems to be known by two, three or even four titles, depending on the whim of the author. Another thing is I note that some authors have the servants, or visitors, call the Duchess of Dumbleton “My Lady”. I thought it should be “Your Grace” unless she was Lady Mary in her own right?
    My other pet peeve is the author who doesn’t do any research at all, just writes a story and inserts suitable words to move the story from today to 1800. I once read one where the author had the heroine travelling to Bath, leaving London at 8.00 a.m. and arriving in Bath at Midday the same day. Needless to say the book was returned quick smart to the op shop from whence it came.

    Reply
  27. Ufortunately this happens quite frequently – I start reading and have to keep turning back the pages to find out who is who (or whom?). The main character seems to be known by two, three or even four titles, depending on the whim of the author. Another thing is I note that some authors have the servants, or visitors, call the Duchess of Dumbleton “My Lady”. I thought it should be “Your Grace” unless she was Lady Mary in her own right?
    My other pet peeve is the author who doesn’t do any research at all, just writes a story and inserts suitable words to move the story from today to 1800. I once read one where the author had the heroine travelling to Bath, leaving London at 8.00 a.m. and arriving in Bath at Midday the same day. Needless to say the book was returned quick smart to the op shop from whence it came.

    Reply
  28. Ufortunately this happens quite frequently – I start reading and have to keep turning back the pages to find out who is who (or whom?). The main character seems to be known by two, three or even four titles, depending on the whim of the author. Another thing is I note that some authors have the servants, or visitors, call the Duchess of Dumbleton “My Lady”. I thought it should be “Your Grace” unless she was Lady Mary in her own right?
    My other pet peeve is the author who doesn’t do any research at all, just writes a story and inserts suitable words to move the story from today to 1800. I once read one where the author had the heroine travelling to Bath, leaving London at 8.00 a.m. and arriving in Bath at Midday the same day. Needless to say the book was returned quick smart to the op shop from whence it came.

    Reply
  29. Ufortunately this happens quite frequently – I start reading and have to keep turning back the pages to find out who is who (or whom?). The main character seems to be known by two, three or even four titles, depending on the whim of the author. Another thing is I note that some authors have the servants, or visitors, call the Duchess of Dumbleton “My Lady”. I thought it should be “Your Grace” unless she was Lady Mary in her own right?
    My other pet peeve is the author who doesn’t do any research at all, just writes a story and inserts suitable words to move the story from today to 1800. I once read one where the author had the heroine travelling to Bath, leaving London at 8.00 a.m. and arriving in Bath at Midday the same day. Needless to say the book was returned quick smart to the op shop from whence it came.

    Reply
  30. Ufortunately this happens quite frequently – I start reading and have to keep turning back the pages to find out who is who (or whom?). The main character seems to be known by two, three or even four titles, depending on the whim of the author. Another thing is I note that some authors have the servants, or visitors, call the Duchess of Dumbleton “My Lady”. I thought it should be “Your Grace” unless she was Lady Mary in her own right?
    My other pet peeve is the author who doesn’t do any research at all, just writes a story and inserts suitable words to move the story from today to 1800. I once read one where the author had the heroine travelling to Bath, leaving London at 8.00 a.m. and arriving in Bath at Midday the same day. Needless to say the book was returned quick smart to the op shop from whence it came.

    Reply
  31. “But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!”
    Wow, Janice, that does require an explanation.
    You’re right, Jenny. A duchess is your grace, and even if she’d started out as Lady Mary she wouldn’t be using it when a duchess.
    Isobel, hugs on the copy-editor. One good thing these days is I can get copy edits and galleys electronically anywhere in the world. Though I have to say that I’ve rarely found inserted errors. The ones that get through to the book are all my own!
    Jo

    Reply
  32. “But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!”
    Wow, Janice, that does require an explanation.
    You’re right, Jenny. A duchess is your grace, and even if she’d started out as Lady Mary she wouldn’t be using it when a duchess.
    Isobel, hugs on the copy-editor. One good thing these days is I can get copy edits and galleys electronically anywhere in the world. Though I have to say that I’ve rarely found inserted errors. The ones that get through to the book are all my own!
    Jo

    Reply
  33. “But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!”
    Wow, Janice, that does require an explanation.
    You’re right, Jenny. A duchess is your grace, and even if she’d started out as Lady Mary she wouldn’t be using it when a duchess.
    Isobel, hugs on the copy-editor. One good thing these days is I can get copy edits and galleys electronically anywhere in the world. Though I have to say that I’ve rarely found inserted errors. The ones that get through to the book are all my own!
    Jo

    Reply
  34. “But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!”
    Wow, Janice, that does require an explanation.
    You’re right, Jenny. A duchess is your grace, and even if she’d started out as Lady Mary she wouldn’t be using it when a duchess.
    Isobel, hugs on the copy-editor. One good thing these days is I can get copy edits and galleys electronically anywhere in the world. Though I have to say that I’ve rarely found inserted errors. The ones that get through to the book are all my own!
    Jo

    Reply
  35. “But even more annoying to me is when a writer has her character behave uncharacteristically for his station; I once read a regency in which an earl had a baronet for a valet. No story explanation was given, and for something that weird, there should have been one!”
    Wow, Janice, that does require an explanation.
    You’re right, Jenny. A duchess is your grace, and even if she’d started out as Lady Mary she wouldn’t be using it when a duchess.
    Isobel, hugs on the copy-editor. One good thing these days is I can get copy edits and galleys electronically anywhere in the world. Though I have to say that I’ve rarely found inserted errors. The ones that get through to the book are all my own!
    Jo

    Reply
  36. I read that the error in the Devonshire patent was made by the clerk who couldn’t read the handwriting on the dicument he had to put into formal form. As there is a policy of no returns on English peerages, the title remained Devonshire.
    I have read many books in which a plain Miss who marries a peer suddenly becomes Lady First Name.
    Also, baronets seem to confuse authors as much as dukes do. It seems difficult for many to understand that a baronet, or knight, is Sir Firstname and not Sir Surname. With Dukes — and there are so many in fiction you would think the copy editors and authors would have it down pat– the tendency is to call them Lord So and so.

    Reply
  37. I read that the error in the Devonshire patent was made by the clerk who couldn’t read the handwriting on the dicument he had to put into formal form. As there is a policy of no returns on English peerages, the title remained Devonshire.
    I have read many books in which a plain Miss who marries a peer suddenly becomes Lady First Name.
    Also, baronets seem to confuse authors as much as dukes do. It seems difficult for many to understand that a baronet, or knight, is Sir Firstname and not Sir Surname. With Dukes — and there are so many in fiction you would think the copy editors and authors would have it down pat– the tendency is to call them Lord So and so.

    Reply
  38. I read that the error in the Devonshire patent was made by the clerk who couldn’t read the handwriting on the dicument he had to put into formal form. As there is a policy of no returns on English peerages, the title remained Devonshire.
    I have read many books in which a plain Miss who marries a peer suddenly becomes Lady First Name.
    Also, baronets seem to confuse authors as much as dukes do. It seems difficult for many to understand that a baronet, or knight, is Sir Firstname and not Sir Surname. With Dukes — and there are so many in fiction you would think the copy editors and authors would have it down pat– the tendency is to call them Lord So and so.

    Reply
  39. I read that the error in the Devonshire patent was made by the clerk who couldn’t read the handwriting on the dicument he had to put into formal form. As there is a policy of no returns on English peerages, the title remained Devonshire.
    I have read many books in which a plain Miss who marries a peer suddenly becomes Lady First Name.
    Also, baronets seem to confuse authors as much as dukes do. It seems difficult for many to understand that a baronet, or knight, is Sir Firstname and not Sir Surname. With Dukes — and there are so many in fiction you would think the copy editors and authors would have it down pat– the tendency is to call them Lord So and so.

    Reply
  40. I read that the error in the Devonshire patent was made by the clerk who couldn’t read the handwriting on the dicument he had to put into formal form. As there is a policy of no returns on English peerages, the title remained Devonshire.
    I have read many books in which a plain Miss who marries a peer suddenly becomes Lady First Name.
    Also, baronets seem to confuse authors as much as dukes do. It seems difficult for many to understand that a baronet, or knight, is Sir Firstname and not Sir Surname. With Dukes — and there are so many in fiction you would think the copy editors and authors would have it down pat– the tendency is to call them Lord So and so.

    Reply
  41. We all make mistakes, but it’s clear when the author hasn’t done the research because the mistake is repeated over and over again. In most books, for me at least, the writing is not strong enough to make up for the lack of research and cultural understanding.
    I did write one author and she was shocked to know she had so many errors. I told her I had a cheat sheet for titles and she asked for a copy.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    Reply
  42. We all make mistakes, but it’s clear when the author hasn’t done the research because the mistake is repeated over and over again. In most books, for me at least, the writing is not strong enough to make up for the lack of research and cultural understanding.
    I did write one author and she was shocked to know she had so many errors. I told her I had a cheat sheet for titles and she asked for a copy.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    Reply
  43. We all make mistakes, but it’s clear when the author hasn’t done the research because the mistake is repeated over and over again. In most books, for me at least, the writing is not strong enough to make up for the lack of research and cultural understanding.
    I did write one author and she was shocked to know she had so many errors. I told her I had a cheat sheet for titles and she asked for a copy.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    Reply
  44. We all make mistakes, but it’s clear when the author hasn’t done the research because the mistake is repeated over and over again. In most books, for me at least, the writing is not strong enough to make up for the lack of research and cultural understanding.
    I did write one author and she was shocked to know she had so many errors. I told her I had a cheat sheet for titles and she asked for a copy.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    Reply
  45. We all make mistakes, but it’s clear when the author hasn’t done the research because the mistake is repeated over and over again. In most books, for me at least, the writing is not strong enough to make up for the lack of research and cultural understanding.
    I did write one author and she was shocked to know she had so many errors. I told her I had a cheat sheet for titles and she asked for a copy.
    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    Reply
  46. These annoy me so much. I don’t think I’ve actually abandoned a book because of these errors, though, unless they were on the first couple pages, in which case I don’t even bother. Even with all the exceptions, it’s really not that hard to at least get the basics down. There’s an entire Wikipedia page on titles, and you’d think authors could at least do that much research.
    I do remember one book where the heroine, upon seeing the hero who was a duke, said, “Oh my lord, Whatever-his-title…” and the duke corrected her and said it should always be “Your Grace.” That made me giggle.

    Reply
  47. These annoy me so much. I don’t think I’ve actually abandoned a book because of these errors, though, unless they were on the first couple pages, in which case I don’t even bother. Even with all the exceptions, it’s really not that hard to at least get the basics down. There’s an entire Wikipedia page on titles, and you’d think authors could at least do that much research.
    I do remember one book where the heroine, upon seeing the hero who was a duke, said, “Oh my lord, Whatever-his-title…” and the duke corrected her and said it should always be “Your Grace.” That made me giggle.

    Reply
  48. These annoy me so much. I don’t think I’ve actually abandoned a book because of these errors, though, unless they were on the first couple pages, in which case I don’t even bother. Even with all the exceptions, it’s really not that hard to at least get the basics down. There’s an entire Wikipedia page on titles, and you’d think authors could at least do that much research.
    I do remember one book where the heroine, upon seeing the hero who was a duke, said, “Oh my lord, Whatever-his-title…” and the duke corrected her and said it should always be “Your Grace.” That made me giggle.

    Reply
  49. These annoy me so much. I don’t think I’ve actually abandoned a book because of these errors, though, unless they were on the first couple pages, in which case I don’t even bother. Even with all the exceptions, it’s really not that hard to at least get the basics down. There’s an entire Wikipedia page on titles, and you’d think authors could at least do that much research.
    I do remember one book where the heroine, upon seeing the hero who was a duke, said, “Oh my lord, Whatever-his-title…” and the duke corrected her and said it should always be “Your Grace.” That made me giggle.

    Reply
  50. These annoy me so much. I don’t think I’ve actually abandoned a book because of these errors, though, unless they were on the first couple pages, in which case I don’t even bother. Even with all the exceptions, it’s really not that hard to at least get the basics down. There’s an entire Wikipedia page on titles, and you’d think authors could at least do that much research.
    I do remember one book where the heroine, upon seeing the hero who was a duke, said, “Oh my lord, Whatever-his-title…” and the duke corrected her and said it should always be “Your Grace.” That made me giggle.

    Reply
  51. The misuse of titles is one of my MAJOR peeves in historical fiction. I assume that most of it comes from American writers who are too lazy (or uneducated) to do a little research. I was reading a book not long ago where a duke was referred to as Lord So-and-so, and that was the end of it for me.
    On the other hand, I had a very nice email exchange with an author who read my review on goodreads.com. I had criticized her because she had an earldom passing to the grandson, who was the son of the old earl’s daughter. It turns out that she had done a little research, but she was looking at the rules of succession for the British royal family, which are different from the mere nobility. We both learned something about when a title may pass through the female line based upon the letters patent (as I recall) issued when the title was created.
    Finally, I have formed a fast friendship with a first-time (American) author who referred to a baronet as Sir Lastname. She was very happy to correct that and other mistakes, pointed out by me and a couple of other reviewers. She reworked her manuscript and self-published a book that has gotten rave reviews on goodreads and Amazon. (I just wish her book had gotten wider readership.) Her next book is coming out on Valentine’s Day, and I’m quite sure there will be no errors in forms of address.

    Reply
  52. The misuse of titles is one of my MAJOR peeves in historical fiction. I assume that most of it comes from American writers who are too lazy (or uneducated) to do a little research. I was reading a book not long ago where a duke was referred to as Lord So-and-so, and that was the end of it for me.
    On the other hand, I had a very nice email exchange with an author who read my review on goodreads.com. I had criticized her because she had an earldom passing to the grandson, who was the son of the old earl’s daughter. It turns out that she had done a little research, but she was looking at the rules of succession for the British royal family, which are different from the mere nobility. We both learned something about when a title may pass through the female line based upon the letters patent (as I recall) issued when the title was created.
    Finally, I have formed a fast friendship with a first-time (American) author who referred to a baronet as Sir Lastname. She was very happy to correct that and other mistakes, pointed out by me and a couple of other reviewers. She reworked her manuscript and self-published a book that has gotten rave reviews on goodreads and Amazon. (I just wish her book had gotten wider readership.) Her next book is coming out on Valentine’s Day, and I’m quite sure there will be no errors in forms of address.

    Reply
  53. The misuse of titles is one of my MAJOR peeves in historical fiction. I assume that most of it comes from American writers who are too lazy (or uneducated) to do a little research. I was reading a book not long ago where a duke was referred to as Lord So-and-so, and that was the end of it for me.
    On the other hand, I had a very nice email exchange with an author who read my review on goodreads.com. I had criticized her because she had an earldom passing to the grandson, who was the son of the old earl’s daughter. It turns out that she had done a little research, but she was looking at the rules of succession for the British royal family, which are different from the mere nobility. We both learned something about when a title may pass through the female line based upon the letters patent (as I recall) issued when the title was created.
    Finally, I have formed a fast friendship with a first-time (American) author who referred to a baronet as Sir Lastname. She was very happy to correct that and other mistakes, pointed out by me and a couple of other reviewers. She reworked her manuscript and self-published a book that has gotten rave reviews on goodreads and Amazon. (I just wish her book had gotten wider readership.) Her next book is coming out on Valentine’s Day, and I’m quite sure there will be no errors in forms of address.

    Reply
  54. The misuse of titles is one of my MAJOR peeves in historical fiction. I assume that most of it comes from American writers who are too lazy (or uneducated) to do a little research. I was reading a book not long ago where a duke was referred to as Lord So-and-so, and that was the end of it for me.
    On the other hand, I had a very nice email exchange with an author who read my review on goodreads.com. I had criticized her because she had an earldom passing to the grandson, who was the son of the old earl’s daughter. It turns out that she had done a little research, but she was looking at the rules of succession for the British royal family, which are different from the mere nobility. We both learned something about when a title may pass through the female line based upon the letters patent (as I recall) issued when the title was created.
    Finally, I have formed a fast friendship with a first-time (American) author who referred to a baronet as Sir Lastname. She was very happy to correct that and other mistakes, pointed out by me and a couple of other reviewers. She reworked her manuscript and self-published a book that has gotten rave reviews on goodreads and Amazon. (I just wish her book had gotten wider readership.) Her next book is coming out on Valentine’s Day, and I’m quite sure there will be no errors in forms of address.

    Reply
  55. The misuse of titles is one of my MAJOR peeves in historical fiction. I assume that most of it comes from American writers who are too lazy (or uneducated) to do a little research. I was reading a book not long ago where a duke was referred to as Lord So-and-so, and that was the end of it for me.
    On the other hand, I had a very nice email exchange with an author who read my review on goodreads.com. I had criticized her because she had an earldom passing to the grandson, who was the son of the old earl’s daughter. It turns out that she had done a little research, but she was looking at the rules of succession for the British royal family, which are different from the mere nobility. We both learned something about when a title may pass through the female line based upon the letters patent (as I recall) issued when the title was created.
    Finally, I have formed a fast friendship with a first-time (American) author who referred to a baronet as Sir Lastname. She was very happy to correct that and other mistakes, pointed out by me and a couple of other reviewers. She reworked her manuscript and self-published a book that has gotten rave reviews on goodreads and Amazon. (I just wish her book had gotten wider readership.) Her next book is coming out on Valentine’s Day, and I’m quite sure there will be no errors in forms of address.

    Reply
  56. It’s good to know that some authors are receptive to gentle correction!
    We all make mistakes, and though we can’t usually change the book that’s out, we can be sure not to make the same mistake again.
    Jo

    Reply
  57. It’s good to know that some authors are receptive to gentle correction!
    We all make mistakes, and though we can’t usually change the book that’s out, we can be sure not to make the same mistake again.
    Jo

    Reply
  58. It’s good to know that some authors are receptive to gentle correction!
    We all make mistakes, and though we can’t usually change the book that’s out, we can be sure not to make the same mistake again.
    Jo

    Reply
  59. It’s good to know that some authors are receptive to gentle correction!
    We all make mistakes, and though we can’t usually change the book that’s out, we can be sure not to make the same mistake again.
    Jo

    Reply
  60. It’s good to know that some authors are receptive to gentle correction!
    We all make mistakes, and though we can’t usually change the book that’s out, we can be sure not to make the same mistake again.
    Jo

    Reply
  61. Its not so much titles mis used as refernces to places there now but not at the time – like Bournemouth large seaside town in Dorset!Until about the eighteen thirties it didn’t exist.The first house actually built was in 1811/12 by a rather dubious Riding Officer prior to that it was beach and moorland but one author (who should have known better)had a hero intending to land at the port? Luckily his ship foundered so he didn’t have to land where there was no port!Another author had someone ride in the dark with two up from Portsmouth to Bournemouth in about 1810 in about two hours – With todays traffic you would be hard pressed to do that in a ferrari! I still finished the book but with gritted teeth ! Rant over!If you want a port on that part of the coast Poole and Christchurch have been there since literally the stone age!

    Reply
  62. Its not so much titles mis used as refernces to places there now but not at the time – like Bournemouth large seaside town in Dorset!Until about the eighteen thirties it didn’t exist.The first house actually built was in 1811/12 by a rather dubious Riding Officer prior to that it was beach and moorland but one author (who should have known better)had a hero intending to land at the port? Luckily his ship foundered so he didn’t have to land where there was no port!Another author had someone ride in the dark with two up from Portsmouth to Bournemouth in about 1810 in about two hours – With todays traffic you would be hard pressed to do that in a ferrari! I still finished the book but with gritted teeth ! Rant over!If you want a port on that part of the coast Poole and Christchurch have been there since literally the stone age!

    Reply
  63. Its not so much titles mis used as refernces to places there now but not at the time – like Bournemouth large seaside town in Dorset!Until about the eighteen thirties it didn’t exist.The first house actually built was in 1811/12 by a rather dubious Riding Officer prior to that it was beach and moorland but one author (who should have known better)had a hero intending to land at the port? Luckily his ship foundered so he didn’t have to land where there was no port!Another author had someone ride in the dark with two up from Portsmouth to Bournemouth in about 1810 in about two hours – With todays traffic you would be hard pressed to do that in a ferrari! I still finished the book but with gritted teeth ! Rant over!If you want a port on that part of the coast Poole and Christchurch have been there since literally the stone age!

    Reply
  64. Its not so much titles mis used as refernces to places there now but not at the time – like Bournemouth large seaside town in Dorset!Until about the eighteen thirties it didn’t exist.The first house actually built was in 1811/12 by a rather dubious Riding Officer prior to that it was beach and moorland but one author (who should have known better)had a hero intending to land at the port? Luckily his ship foundered so he didn’t have to land where there was no port!Another author had someone ride in the dark with two up from Portsmouth to Bournemouth in about 1810 in about two hours – With todays traffic you would be hard pressed to do that in a ferrari! I still finished the book but with gritted teeth ! Rant over!If you want a port on that part of the coast Poole and Christchurch have been there since literally the stone age!

    Reply
  65. Its not so much titles mis used as refernces to places there now but not at the time – like Bournemouth large seaside town in Dorset!Until about the eighteen thirties it didn’t exist.The first house actually built was in 1811/12 by a rather dubious Riding Officer prior to that it was beach and moorland but one author (who should have known better)had a hero intending to land at the port? Luckily his ship foundered so he didn’t have to land where there was no port!Another author had someone ride in the dark with two up from Portsmouth to Bournemouth in about 1810 in about two hours – With todays traffic you would be hard pressed to do that in a ferrari! I still finished the book but with gritted teeth ! Rant over!If you want a port on that part of the coast Poole and Christchurch have been there since literally the stone age!

    Reply
  66. Good point about places, Jo. It’s easy to make that mistake, but also easy to simply check on line. There are histories of most places readily available.
    When we’ve visited a place, however, it’s easy to assume what we see now was there then, especially if it looks old. It isn’t always so.
    Jo

    Reply
  67. Good point about places, Jo. It’s easy to make that mistake, but also easy to simply check on line. There are histories of most places readily available.
    When we’ve visited a place, however, it’s easy to assume what we see now was there then, especially if it looks old. It isn’t always so.
    Jo

    Reply
  68. Good point about places, Jo. It’s easy to make that mistake, but also easy to simply check on line. There are histories of most places readily available.
    When we’ve visited a place, however, it’s easy to assume what we see now was there then, especially if it looks old. It isn’t always so.
    Jo

    Reply
  69. Good point about places, Jo. It’s easy to make that mistake, but also easy to simply check on line. There are histories of most places readily available.
    When we’ve visited a place, however, it’s easy to assume what we see now was there then, especially if it looks old. It isn’t always so.
    Jo

    Reply
  70. Good point about places, Jo. It’s easy to make that mistake, but also easy to simply check on line. There are histories of most places readily available.
    When we’ve visited a place, however, it’s easy to assume what we see now was there then, especially if it looks old. It isn’t always so.
    Jo

    Reply
  71. I find these errors a lot while reading Downton Abbey coverage. Had to roll my eyes when I heard a news report referring to Lord Grantham as Lord Crawley–and it was a British TV show, too! And Cora is not Lady Cora Crawley.

    Reply
  72. I find these errors a lot while reading Downton Abbey coverage. Had to roll my eyes when I heard a news report referring to Lord Grantham as Lord Crawley–and it was a British TV show, too! And Cora is not Lady Cora Crawley.

    Reply
  73. I find these errors a lot while reading Downton Abbey coverage. Had to roll my eyes when I heard a news report referring to Lord Grantham as Lord Crawley–and it was a British TV show, too! And Cora is not Lady Cora Crawley.

    Reply
  74. I find these errors a lot while reading Downton Abbey coverage. Had to roll my eyes when I heard a news report referring to Lord Grantham as Lord Crawley–and it was a British TV show, too! And Cora is not Lady Cora Crawley.

    Reply
  75. I find these errors a lot while reading Downton Abbey coverage. Had to roll my eyes when I heard a news report referring to Lord Grantham as Lord Crawley–and it was a British TV show, too! And Cora is not Lady Cora Crawley.

    Reply
  76. I recently read your article “English titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries” and thought perhaps you could answer a question for me.
    I see in the Masterpiece theater movies that the Aristocratic personna is pretty cold. My question for you is this:
    If a young man married a commoner, who was the first son, and heir, whose parents were titled such as a Duke and Dutchess of wherever, would his parents be so heartless to disown him? If they did, would he relinquish any title that would have been his? Would his birthright go to his next younger brother, or to his first son, if he were disinherrited?
    One other question..
    Considering the young man in the above scenario, would he be able to be called an “Gentleman” by the commoners and villagers? If not, what are the qualifications for him to be a “Gentleman?”
    I am writing a book and need to understand this relationship between the main character and his parents, as well as his title or lack there of. I call him Gentleman ? in the book.

    Reply
  77. I recently read your article “English titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries” and thought perhaps you could answer a question for me.
    I see in the Masterpiece theater movies that the Aristocratic personna is pretty cold. My question for you is this:
    If a young man married a commoner, who was the first son, and heir, whose parents were titled such as a Duke and Dutchess of wherever, would his parents be so heartless to disown him? If they did, would he relinquish any title that would have been his? Would his birthright go to his next younger brother, or to his first son, if he were disinherrited?
    One other question..
    Considering the young man in the above scenario, would he be able to be called an “Gentleman” by the commoners and villagers? If not, what are the qualifications for him to be a “Gentleman?”
    I am writing a book and need to understand this relationship between the main character and his parents, as well as his title or lack there of. I call him Gentleman ? in the book.

    Reply
  78. I recently read your article “English titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries” and thought perhaps you could answer a question for me.
    I see in the Masterpiece theater movies that the Aristocratic personna is pretty cold. My question for you is this:
    If a young man married a commoner, who was the first son, and heir, whose parents were titled such as a Duke and Dutchess of wherever, would his parents be so heartless to disown him? If they did, would he relinquish any title that would have been his? Would his birthright go to his next younger brother, or to his first son, if he were disinherrited?
    One other question..
    Considering the young man in the above scenario, would he be able to be called an “Gentleman” by the commoners and villagers? If not, what are the qualifications for him to be a “Gentleman?”
    I am writing a book and need to understand this relationship between the main character and his parents, as well as his title or lack there of. I call him Gentleman ? in the book.

    Reply
  79. I recently read your article “English titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries” and thought perhaps you could answer a question for me.
    I see in the Masterpiece theater movies that the Aristocratic personna is pretty cold. My question for you is this:
    If a young man married a commoner, who was the first son, and heir, whose parents were titled such as a Duke and Dutchess of wherever, would his parents be so heartless to disown him? If they did, would he relinquish any title that would have been his? Would his birthright go to his next younger brother, or to his first son, if he were disinherrited?
    One other question..
    Considering the young man in the above scenario, would he be able to be called an “Gentleman” by the commoners and villagers? If not, what are the qualifications for him to be a “Gentleman?”
    I am writing a book and need to understand this relationship between the main character and his parents, as well as his title or lack there of. I call him Gentleman ? in the book.

    Reply
  80. I recently read your article “English titles in the 18th and 19th Centuries” and thought perhaps you could answer a question for me.
    I see in the Masterpiece theater movies that the Aristocratic personna is pretty cold. My question for you is this:
    If a young man married a commoner, who was the first son, and heir, whose parents were titled such as a Duke and Dutchess of wherever, would his parents be so heartless to disown him? If they did, would he relinquish any title that would have been his? Would his birthright go to his next younger brother, or to his first son, if he were disinherrited?
    One other question..
    Considering the young man in the above scenario, would he be able to be called an “Gentleman” by the commoners and villagers? If not, what are the qualifications for him to be a “Gentleman?”
    I am writing a book and need to understand this relationship between the main character and his parents, as well as his title or lack there of. I call him Gentleman ? in the book.

    Reply

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