Pedantry question on titles

Some Tories believe that Cameron\’s attachment to the nobility will resurface when he no longer has to face the electorate. They believe that when he eventually stands down Cameron will revive the tradition of granting an earldom to a former prime minister. The Camerons would become the Earl and Countess of Witney, the name of his Oxfordshire constituency.

This is the opposite to Maurice Glasman\’s thing about wanting to become Baron \”of the City of London\”.

He couldn\’t because the City has, in matters of honours and precedence, the status of a County. Which his far too grand for a mere Baron to be of.

However, Witney might be somewhere too small for someone to be an Earl of. A Baron, yes, but an Earl? Two entire steps up?

Looking back, Earl of Stockton (Macmillan), but Stockton is much larger. Before that with PMs, Earl of Avon (umm, bloke with mustache), Earl Atlee (no geographic assignation) and pre-war I don\’t know about.

He certainly can\’t become Earl Cameron, half the Highlands would kill the other half over that.

So, if the Boy Dave does become and Earl, what would the Garter King at Arms (think he\’s the right bloke to decide this) allow him to use as his title?

Actually, might be Clarenceux who makes that decision.

Strange but true story: I once woke up to find the wife of the then Clarenceux asleep on my sofa. I\’d rented out the spare bedroom of my flat to a student from the university: deal was, no rent, but keep the place tidy, general light housework. Mother had come to make sure that\’s all there was, this wasn\’t to be an introduction to night time creeping.

12 thoughts on “Pedantry question on titles”

  1. Asquith didn’t have any luck getting Earl of Oxford. Maybe today’s de Vere’s will be a little less bothered, or heeded?

    Blenheim is clearly out 🙂 and Carterton is both small and, well, a bit RAF …

    Windrush, perhaps?

  2. For war heroes, the territorial designation can be outside the UK – as in Kitchener of Khartoum or Montgomery of El Alamein. This can even be a whole country – as in Earl Mountbatten of Burma. How about Cameron of Libya? Blair of Iraq?

  3. Viscount Dave of Daftness.

    That’s on the assumption that “Daftness” exists somewhere in the more farflung parts of this realm.

  4. Doesn’t it depend on whether it is (or was) a borough? If it’s a borough, it’s too important for a baron.

    From a quick look at the lists of boroughs (pre-1832 and modern) on Wikipedia, Witney doesn’t appear.

    Of course the Queen could, on the advice of her Ministers, grant it a borough or city charter, which might then make it suitable for an Earldom. But a borough charter gives it a borough council, and for a city charter it needs to be “of the first rank”, and it’s probably not important enough for either.

  5. Great, an Earldom named after one’s constituency. What a gong, unless you live in a hole or your constituency has one of those workaday names used to distinguish bits of densely-populated areas.

    F’rexample, not that either is remotely likely to become PM (praise to the highest) but could anyone imagine the Earl of York (Outer)? Or the Countess of Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford?

  6. Ah, there’s precedent for Earl of Witney.

    The Earl of Hillsborough, Labour (or co-op) politician and First Sea Lord in WWII, his title was the name of his constituency, which is a suburb of Sheffield and so not otherwise important in its own right.

    Possibly we should now regard Parliamentary constituencies as equivalent to a Borough for peerage titles. That makes sense, since one of the main features of a borough (pre-1885) was that it had MPs.

  7. There’s also the Earl of Woolton, who amusingly wanted to use the Earl-Surname type of title, like Atlee or Spencer, but was told that he couldn’t because his surname was Marquis.

    Woolton is a suburb of Liverpool.

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