Titles by Courtesy

Although the bearer of a peerage title by courtesy enjoys none of the privileges of a peer, he is addressed as such with the following exceptions:

(i) a marquess by courtesy is never accorded the formal style of 'The Most Hon'

(ii) an earl, viscount or baron by courtesy is never accorded the formal style of 'The Rt Hon', unless he also happens to be a Privy Counsellor

(iii) a peer by courtesy is not addressed as 'The' in correspondence. This is restricted to actual peers.

Normally a peer by courtesy is called 'Lord …….', but if there is a special reason for a marquess or earl by courtesy to be referred to by his precise courtesy title, he is called verbally 'the Marquess of Blandford' or 'the Earl of Arundel', this being the usual colloquial form of reference.  The definite article is never given to courtesy viscounts or barons.

Wives and Widows of Peers by Courtesy

Wives of peers by courtesy take the titles of Marchioness, Countess or Lady, as appropriate, but never have the formal style of 'The Most Hon' or 'The Rt Hon'. The wife of a peer by courtesy is not given the prefix 'The' in correspondence. The same rules apply to the widow of a peer by courtesy.

How to Address Peers by Courtesy and their Wives

The recommended (social) style of address is as follows:

Beginning of letter

Dear Lord/Lady Hamilton/Ronaldshay/Seymour

End of letter

Yours sincerely


Marquess/Marchioness of Hamilton; Earl/Countess of Ronaldshay; Lord/Lady Seymour

Verbal communication

Lord/Lady Hamilton/Ronaldshay/Seymour

Invitation* & joint form of address

Lord and Lady Hamilton; Lord and Lady Ronaldshay; Lord and Lady Seymour

Description in conversation

Lord/Lady Hamilton/Ronaldshay/Seymour

List of Directors or Patrons

Marquess/Marchioness of Hamilton;   Earl/Countess of Ronaldshay; Lord/Lady Seymour

Place card

Marquess/Marchioness of Hamilton;Earl/Countess of Ronaldshay;Lord/Lady Seymour

Legal document

James Harold Charles Marquess of Hamilton; Tanya Marchioness of Hamilton;Robin Lawrence Earl of Ronaldshay;Heather Countess of Ronaldshay;Sebastian Edward Baron Seymour;Arlette Baroness Seymour;

*Note that, traditionally, invitations to a married couple, when sent to their home address, are addressed to the wife alone, with both names being inscribed on the invitation card. It has become increasingly acceptable, however, to address the envelope with both names.

Former Wife of a Peer by Courtesy

She is styled as the former wife of a peer (other than a duke).



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