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 around $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.

It is disappointing that Groupon has now entered the ‘title’ selling business, offering, particularly on their .com site, a comprehensive array of scam offers, from Lords of Kerry to even German and Russian ones as well as the usual culprits, like Dunans Castle and Lordship Titles. I have tried to warn them but they do not seem to care about the authenticity of what they are offering for sale, and trying to get any action taken by them through their customer service is worse than useless. They refer to the so-called titles offered by Dunans Castle as decorative titles, a designation that does not exist; I have suggested that they contact Debrett’s to check, but they do not seem to be interested in accuracy.

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 as it is a total scam giving potential purchasers completely incorrect information 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 to the Lake District and was renamed Hougun Manor instead; there is a genuine manor of that name in Cumbria but there is no proof that they own it or even that it refers to the same manor, it is more likely that they have merely registered it as a trademark. However, even if it were genuine, there can be only one Lordship of the Manor, it cannot be subdivided, and secondly it still wouldn’t make you a Lord.

There is a new shocker that has joined the long list of rip-off title sellers, named Established Titles, a misleading name if there ever was one, it makes the usual claims that buying a square foot of land in Scotland – amazingly it doesn’t even state exactly where, merely that it is on a private estate in Galloway – will make you a Laird, which is the same as a Lord (which it isn’t). They claim the following, “Our Title Packs are based on a historic Scottish land ownership custom, where landowners have been long referred to as “Lairds”, the Scottish term for “Lord”, with the female equivalent being “Lady”.” The Lord Lyon, the Scottish official with responsibility for regulating heraldry in that country, issuing new grants of arms, and serving as the judge of the Court of the Lord Lyon, the oldest heraldic court in the world that is still in daily operation, has completely and comprehensively debunked that claim. And the final clincher is that a square foot of land is too small to be officially conveyed to a purchaser, so you wouldn’t even own that, which the whole fraudulent process is based on. So give them a very wide berth and consign them to the Fake Title dustbin.

Be extremely wary of any site – and unfortunately there are far too many of them – that tells you that you can purchase a recreated Lordship of the Manor from them and states that then you would be able to 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. Some of them even offer totally unnecessary things like rings or special regalia – avoid these like the proverbial plague unless you want to waste your money. Prominent among these scam sites is Manorial Counsel, which sells recreated Lordships and Feudal Baronies that actually died out many years ago, beware of wasting your money with them as you will not be purchasing anything genuine. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you are separately legally represented, and check that anything you are buying has an unbroken history of ownership. If you need a solicitor to check the authenticity of what you are considering purchasing, then I would be happy to recommend one well-versed in these matters, just e-mail me, and I will put you in touch with him.

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.

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