Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Question from Colleen - Forms of address

Can anyone tell me (or give me a good source, as I'm sure it's long and involved) the forms of address for English nobility? I'm writing a novel and I'm not sure how my characters should be talking to and about each other. I'm especially interested in how people would address unmarried daughters of an earl. Thanks!


kb said...

Unmarried daughters of earls were called Lady Firstname. Unmarried daughters of barons and knights were generally called Mistress Firstname. Wives of barons - Lady baron designation. SO the wife of baron Hunsdon whose name was Anne Morgan Carey was called Lady Hunsdon. Wives of heirs to earls may have been called Lady Subsidiary designation. SO, when Lettice Knollys married Walter Devereux heir to the earldom of Essex they were known as Lord and Lady Hereford. Then there are those usages that defy the conventions. For example, although Charles Howard became the 2nd baron Effingham in 1573, his wife was frequently referred to as Lady Howard. He was also more commonly known by his other title Lord Admiral as this took precedence in the House of Lords over the Effingham title. One of their daughters was sometimes called Mistress Howard and sometimes Mistress Frances. By the time dad was created earl of Nottingham in 1597 all his daughters were married and using their conjugal designations. There are probably more variants and it's all a bit different if you were Scottish or Irish so....I'm sure others can add to the discussion.

lebarwick said...

I found an interesting list on "The Tudors" website (from the shotime series). The link is
It gives a list of the offices of the court from highest to lowest. I thought it was pretty interesting. It also tells how these different offices were addressed (such as Duke, Earl, etc.)