by Michele Ann Young
This is a peek at the Spanish ebook cover for No Regrets. I'm an international author!! The print book is due out in September.

Don't you think it looks intriguing with "SIN" in such large letter. Of course I'm assuming it means "No", but I really like the design. Very baroque.

What do you address the widow of the previous title holder?

Ah, back to earth. Dowagers result in much discussion and therefore deserve a heading of their own, even though most of them would prefer not to be labeled such, especially if they are young and pretty.

Dowager ~ is a widow who holds a title or property, or dower, derived from her deceased husband. All very straightforward.

When it comes to the widows of peers, then we seem to add complications. A dowager peeress is the mother, stepmother, or grandmother of the reigning peer, and the widow of a preceding one.

For example, if you are Joan, the wife of Earl Goodbody, you are Countess Goodbody or Lady Goodbody. You become a dowager on the earl's death. Your son, hopefully you did your job and produced the next heir, becomes the earl.

If he is not married you continue to be Countess Goodbody

If he is married you become Dowager Countess Goodbody, because his wife is now Countess Goodbody. You will be addressed as Lady Goodbody. The Dowager designation only becomes truly important at formal occasions, or introductions when both the widow and the current Countess are present at the same time.

If you are introduced or formally addressed when the current countess is not present, then you are Joan, Countess Goodbody, again remembering that only the current peer's wife if Countess Goodbody.

If the previous countess is still living, the current peers grandmother, she retains the title of Dowager Countess Goodbody, and you are Joan, Countess Goodbody.

If you are wondering why I have burbled on about this, it is so I can find this information here, next time I need it.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Making Your Debut in the Regency

by Michele Ann Young
A while back I did an article on the peerage and there was a bit of a discussion about whether the debutante thing was popular during the Regency.
The picture is of a Court Dress from 1817.

The London Season started in March/April time and went to sometime in June. It was tied to Parliament. Each year the Queen held Presentation Drawing Rooms two or three times a week during the Season. Wives and daughters of peers, members of parliament, or the landed gentry were allowed to be formally presented at Court. For the daughter, this was called her come-out or her debut. Young men made their bows.

When the young lady in question was about 17 or 18, her mother would send in a request to the Lord Chamberlain indicating she wished her daughter to be presented. Only a lady who had herself been presented could sponsor her at the drawing room. The King and Queen did not recognize anyone who had not been presented to them.

It provided the young woman with an gilt-edged entry into society. However, a young lady who had not been presented could still go to balls, routs and other entertainments, if she was invited.

here we have a lady and gentleman in court dress for 1807.

During the Regency, the presentations took place at St. James's Palace at events called Drawing Rooms. Hoops and white feather plumes, as shown in the picture above, were required dress. After waiting for hours, and only permitted to stand in the presence of the Queen, the young lady would be announced by the Chamberlain and walked to where the Queen sat and made a deep curtsy — which had been practiced and practiced while wearing the hooped skirt. A few pleasantries were exchanged, the young woman answering any question the Queen put to her, but no more. When the Queen indicated she was dismissed, the young woman made one more deep curtsey, and then walked backwards out of the royal presence all the while praying she wouldn't trip over her train.

There were several years in which no Presentation Drawing Rooms were held during the Regency because of the King's illness. Between the King's birth day in 1810, and April 30 1812, no drawing rooms were held. You can imagine the preparations and the requests after that length of time had passed.

So while presentation to the Queen was not required, it was certainly expected for the members of the ton.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

The Peerage

Yes, pesky titles. I know I should have this down pat by now. But I just started a new work, and lo and behold the darn hero is the second son of a duke. Not the heir. Now there are all kinds of pitfalls with Dukes, not just what you call them, but what you call their sons, their wives, their sons wives and so on. I am going to deal with just a couple of them here.

I thought rather than do a dry list, I would use the 5th Duke of Devonshire as a living -- a well a previously living-- example. His first wife was Georgiana, a very interesting woman, but in the matter of titles I have chosen this particular Duke because he was around in the Georgian era.

This is a portrait of the fifth duke. Now how would you address the starchy looking gentleman. Oh and by the way, his family name (like your surname) is Cavendish. That becomes important later.

The form of address partly depends on who is addressing him and in what form, writing or speech (just to give you hiccups). A servant might well address him as "Your Grace", probably with his nose touching his knees. Anyone with the rank of baronet or below, e.g. just plain Mrs, Miss or Mr. would also call him Your Grace.

His wife would probably call him Devonshire or, if they were alone or with intimate family or friends, she might call him, "my lord" or "my love". It sounds very formal, but that in a way is the reason for our enchantment for bygone ages. It was different.

Here is a picture of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Gainsborough, while this is still in the 1780's we can see the classical influence.

The Duke's friends, if they are peers, would most likely call him Devonshsire, although they might say, "How are you today, Duke?" and as the conversation continues would address him as "sir".

A Duke is never addressed as "my lord".

Very rarely were first names used, except possibly between boys who were close friends at school, and then only in private. Last names, or the title name (e.g. Devonshire) were the most common forms of address, if not using the respectful, "your grace".

He would sign his name Devonshire on all correspondence. There is only one Devonshire, and there would be absolutely no mistake as to whom had written. If you are going to write to a Duke, you would begin: "My Lord Duke"

Perhaps one of my favorite fictional dukes is His Grace Duke of Avon, in Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades and Devil's Cub. Oh man, gotta read those books again now I have thought about them. He was also in the Black Moth, but he was an anti hero and so she changed his name, but we guessed. I always felt a teeny bit sorry for him in the first book. I do love a bad boy.

Back to titles, girl, before you lose your audience.
Note that a Duke is always the Duke of "somewhere". That is not true of some of the other titles. Remember the Duke of Wellington? He was the first Duke of Wellington.

A Duke will usually have one or more courtesy titles. These are often titles of progression, titles his family earned over the centuries, gradually climbing the ladder of the peerage. So he might also be Marquess of Malmsbury and Earl Chokingham and some others as well as being "Duke of Somewhere". His eldest son will normally take his highest courtesy title during the Duke's lifetime.

The duchess is also "Your Grace" but rather than "My Lord Duke" she is "Madam", on formal correspondence and "Madam" instead of "Sir" in informal speech. She would sign her name Georgiana Devonshire.

Now in my novel, I have an heir, who is a Marquess, so I have to follow the rules for him, but he only makes a brief appearance so I will talk about his title another time. My hero is the second son. So what do I need to know about him?

Of course the biggest fear of the writer is that by now you have so many names floating on the pages that you have made your reader fall asleep.
To wake you up, here is a picture of the 6th Duke of Devonshire. Very much a Regency gentleman. This picture was painted by Thomas Lawrence in 1811.

Anyway, younger sons of Dukes. Since he is my main character let me get it right.
Announced formally or addressed on formal correspondence as: Lord Malcolm Cavendish
(All right so Devonshire only had one son, but this is fiction so use your imagination.)
What we have above is a title "Lord" his Christian or firstname "Malcolm" and his family name or surname "Cavendish". Neither his father, mother or older brother use the Cavendish. But he isn't really a peer, he is only the second son, poor sod.

The salutation on correspondence would be "My Lord". He would be announced as "The Lord Malcolm Cavendish" He would be addressed by his friends as Lord Malcolm (or Malcolm or Cavendish, if addressed by a very close friend or relative). He would sign himself as Malcolm Cavendish or Cavendish. If he had a younger brother, a third son to the Duke, then that son could not sign just Cavendish. He would have to use his Christian name and then the family name in his signature to avoid confusion with his older brother.


Thank you so much for helping me do my research for this book. Without you I would still have a note in the manuscript that says - must check ducal sons' forms of address.

By the way, if you would like all the detail, check out this website. I think it is very clear. You can also investigate Debrett's or Burke's, you will find them listed in the bibliography on the above website. Until next time, Happy rambles.