Saturday, October 29, 2016

Question from Arthur - Subsidiary and courtesy titles of heirs

Hi, I been reading up the stuff on this site on courtesy tiles of nobility in the Tudor period...there a couple of things I would like to ask, apologies if it has been asked before but I could not find anything...

i)What happens if the father has no subsidiary title for his eldest son to use? does the heir simply not take one? Or is one invented for him?

ii)Is there any cases where second subsequent sons will use courtesy tiles if they have having a living elder brother? What i mean by that is not when the eldest son has died and the next son becomes the heir, but at the same time?

iii)Slightly off at a tangent but somewhat related at what age was the heir considered to be "of age" and what happened the courtesy tiles when a new heir took over?

This is for a novel I am researching, while its fiction and I have certain amount of poetic licence as it were, I still want get it historically credible...thanks.

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

Answering your questions as you numbered them:

i) When there is no subsidiary title (rare, but possible), the eldest son is known by the same style as his siblings: "Lord" or "Honorable" Forename, depending on the actual rank of the father.

ii) During the lifetime of a living eldest son, all younger sons would be styled as simply "Lord" Forename. Subsidiary titles were not used in courtesy by any secondary heirs.

iii) Because of the way the question is worded, I am not entirely sure what you mean by "of age." In any event, an heir to a title fully entered into that title immediately upon the death of the person from whom he inherited the title, regardless of the age of the heir. Any subsidiary titles that had been used as a courtesy title by the heir prior to inheritance would remain with the individual after he inherited. One can be Duke of X, Marquess of Y, and Earl of Z all at the same time. When the new holder fathered an heir, that heir would assume the secondary title previously used as a courtesy title by his father when his father was still heir. (I hope that is not too confusing.)

The issue of age arises only in relation to property, not to titles. One can hold a title of nobility while a minor, but that same status as a minor can prevent access to the estates and income associated with the title. Most underage heirs did not enter into (i.e., gain full possession of) their estates and income until they were 21 years of age, though sometimes the threshold was lowered to 18. But a problematic will could prevent the heir from entering into his estates for quite a long time. Successive Marquesses of Dorset famously left their wives life interests in their estates, so that the Marquess's son and heir in each of three successive generations were kept from possessing the family estates until their widowed mother died. Instead, the widowed mother had full possession during her lifetime, even if she lived until her son was a quite mature adult.