Pesky Peerages

What do you call the dowager widow of Earl Whatever when her son dies leaving her daughter-in-law as the dowager widow of the Earl Whatever? (The son inherited the Whatever title on his father’s death.)

Confused? Well the question certainly had the regency chapter of RWA (Beaumonde) scratching is virtual head for some weeks. Of course, you call them both Lady Whatever when you introduce them to another person, but it seems to me the jury is out as far as what to call them when they are both in the same room.

Since most of us will not be meeting members of the aristocracy over the next couple of weeks I don’t suppose you really need to know that you address a Duke or a Duchess as "your grace" or that the wife of an earl is a countess not an earless. Umm, sounds more like an earwig.

This is a picture of a very famous Duke. Can you can guess who it is?

He appears in my American Title 2 finalist novel. One day I hope you will meet him there.

However, if you are reading a Regency — or a novel about some other time period if you must — it is helpful to know what the author is talking about and what position the person holds in relation to others.

There are lots of websites who have wonderful details on the ins and outs of the complexities of the British Peerage so there is no sense in my duplicating them here. If you want to wander through the brambles of those terrible titles, trot to my website and under “Favorite Links” under the heading of Pesky Peerages you will find some places to visit for more information.

The next blog in this series will be posted on Thursday, August 17, when I will be describing my rambles around Royal Tunbridge Wells.