Beware - Advice for the Unwary
You will be presented with a bewildering display of Titles in Britain for sale on the Internet, you can even purchase the title of Laird of Scotland, by buying a square foot of land at $67.
As there are 43,560 square feet to the acre, this works out at a gigantic income of $2,918,520 per acre, presumably of rather poor land, which could probably be purchased for about $100 - not a bad return.
Then there are supposed English Feudal Titles, Hereditary Knightships, there are pyramid schemes involving so-called Feudal Noble titles of Baron Marshall, Non-Inheritable Titles (all they get you to do is to illegally change your name using a Titled prefix, something that only the Sovereign can convey).
A company, calling itself Lord Titles, needs to be singled out for particular attention, they used to sell Lordships for an imaginary Manor of Chelmswood in Nottinghamshire, but when the Nottingham Evening Post discovered that it was a scam, it miraculously moved the manor to the Lake District and called it Wansley instead, there is no proof that either Manor has ever existed, they would appear to have merely registered them as trademarks. Firstly there can be only one Lordship of the Manor, it cannot be subdivided, and secondly, even if it were genuine, it wouldn’t make you a Lord.
Be very wary of any site that tells you that you can purchase a recreated Lordship of the Manor from them and then you can call yourselves, Lord and Lady; if you have any doubts about the authenticity of a Lordship of the Manor, do drop me an e-mail.
If you want to change your name by deed poll to whatever you want (within reason), it is a simple, inexpensive process and you certainly do not need to pay anybody else to do it. However, whatever you decide to call yourself, it will not give you a title.
The ‘title’ selling sites make amazing claims about how you will get the best tables in restaurants or be upgraded on aeroplanes; seeing as, though holding a genuine English title myself, this pleasant surprise has never yet taken place, it seems even less likely to happen to the purchasers of these spurious offerings. However, they neglect to mention about how you will be ridiculed by your friends, talking behind your back about what a ‘mug’ you are, as you have so obviously bought something quite worthless and meaningless!!
The British Embassy in Washington is so worried about Americans being misled into buying fraudulent titles that it even puts out the following advice for the unwary on their official website:
“The sale of British titles is prohibited by the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, 1925. However, misleading advertisements for lordships of manors sometimes appear in the media and on the internet. A manorial lordship is not an aristocratic title, but a semi-extinct form of landed property. Lordship in this sense is a synonym for ownership. According to John Martin Robinson, Maltravers Herald Extraordinary and co-author of The Oxford Guide to Heraldry, ”Lordship of this or that manor is no more a title than Landlord of the Dog and Duck.” It cannot be stated on a passport, and does not entitle the owner to a coat of arms. Beware also of websites selling completely bogus British titles.”
I was delighted to receive an e-mail from Peter McInally, author of the article on the British Embassy website, congratulating us and saying that, “It is an excellent site which I am sure will do a great deal of good.”
It is worth noting that genuine Manorial Lordships do have a resale value, and though you cannot add them to your name on your passport, an authentic one can be added into the Official Observations section.
Rather than explain everything myself, there is an authoritative site, The Baronage Press, publishers of an electronic magazine, with copious information about genealogical and heraldic data in the archives section, and general facts on the history of the British Isles.
You might also be interested to read an exclusive Interview that I conducted with the Editor of Baronage about his on-going campaign against purveyors of fake titles. The Baronage readers are primarily all who are interested in the art, history and symbolism of heraldry, and in the history, politics, warfare, chivalry, books, cinema and television to which heraldry has thematic links.
A reader of Fake Titles, amused by the paradox that the use of a Statutory Declaration is more likely to be proof that the seller does not own a manor rather than that he does, has written a useful description of the dangers for a buyer relying on the seller’s provision of one as proof of ownership. You can view the Article here - courtesy of Baronage, as the Editor has checked it for accuracy and laid it out properly - as a Adobe PDF file, this will require Acrobat Reader 6.0 or later to open it.
Baronage also act as a quick reference for Internet users offered “noble titles”, their “own coat of arms” and the “history of their distinguished name” by merchants, online and offline, who know little of these subjects. They have an excellent Frequently Asked Questions Area, which, if you are in any doubt about a title that you have been offered, should be consulted before going any further.
Starting with Elite, I have listed some of the major sites or purveyors of Fake Titles, just click on the Secondary Links to view them.