The Lords and Ladies of Medieval England played a starring role in the history books, as well, no doubt, as in the towns and villages where they lived.
Even from the earliest times of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, members of the aristocracy were a source of fascination and inspiration for many of the local people, playing a role within their society a little like the celebrities and film stars play in contemporary society.
The English Lords and Ladies of old were no different, enjoying a privileged and elevated role within the social hierarchy. Their lives were usually a leisurely round of social visits and managing their estates, very often enjoying substantial wealth and exquisite manor houses or stately homes.
The more prominent Lords would also play an important part in the politics of the day, enjoying privileged access to those in charge, as well as power, influence and voting rights, ensuring that their agendas were included in the cultural and political changes.
These nostalgic legacies of the English Lords of the Middle Ages have ensured that the prospect of living as a Lord still maintains its appeal, even in a modern society that has largely moved away from the dominance and power of the aristocratic classes.
Maybe it’s the promise of being Lord of the Manor, i.e. the king of one’s own castle, and master of all they survey – themes that many Englishmen hold very dear, regardless of the shifting tides of mainstream culture.
Whatever the enduring appeal of being an English Lord, it’s an idea that still captivates people in modern times, and so it is good news that it is still possible to become a Lord in England. There are in fact numerous routes to becoming an English Lord, though admittedly, some are more accessible to the vast majority than others.
Here are some of the ways to become a Lord in England within today’s social structure.
Being Born In Line for a Courtesy Title
Within the complex system of English aristocracy and nobility that evolved over many centuries, through all the turbulence of the wars and land grabs of the Middle Ages, some of the more elevated members would acquire more than one noble title.
In such cases, the offspring of these eminent nobles would be conventionally allowed to adopt one of the parent’s ‘spare’ lesser titles. These were known as Courtesy Titles, in that they were not official titles by right, but were an acceptable convention within the aristocracy.
For example, if a Duke or a Marquis held additional noble titles, his sons would be able to style themselves using one of the Courtesy Titles. In some cases, there would be restrictions on which sons could use which title, ie some were only available to the next in line. However, the title of Lord was one example of a Courtesy Title that could be offered to younger sons.
So, being born (in the right birth order) to a high-ranking aristocrat who possesses a spare Lordship is one way to become an English Lord.
Inheriting the Title on the Death of a Relative
In the case of hereditary Lordships, it was common practice for the next in line to inherit the title of Lord when the current holder passed away.
According to the convention that dominated the English aristocracy, this was almost always subject to birth order, with the eldest son being regarded as the next in line for the title, with his sons becoming the subsequent heirs, taking the place of any brothers or other male relatives.
However, families and offspring are often more complicated than simple lines of succession, so there have always been – and will continue to be – occasions where there is no son to inherit a title.
In these cases, the title would go to the person deemed to be next in line, and this could be distant or long-lost relatives, depending on the family tree in question.
So, it’s possible that people who are unaware of Lordships in their family line may one day discover that they are the next in line for the title.
While the chances of this happening are small, it does happen, and one way to investigate the likelihood is to trace back your family history to see if there are any Lordships or other noble titles that may one day be coming your way.
Become a Lord of the Realm
While Lordships in many countries are rarely offered as new titles, England has an ancient tradition of appointing Lords of the Realm, i.e. positions within the House of Lords, known as the British Peerage.
This has been subject to much change over the last few centuries, with much more restrictions on who could become a member of the House of Lords.
While it is still possible to rise within the ranks of government and politics to attain a noble title within the peerage system, in modern times, these titles are usually only Life Peers, in that they are an honour granted to the individual in question, but not permitted to be passed onto future generations, as used to be the case with Hereditary Peers.
Again, this is a rare, exclusive, and highly unpredictable route to becoming an English Lord.
Acquiring a Lordship Through Marriage
A route that may be more accessible to the majority of the population, in theory at least, is the age-old practice of marrying into the nobility.
If you were to marry a Lady, you may be entitled to adopt the title of Lord, though the precise details can vary. Similarly, if you were to marry the daughter of a Lord or Lady, you may be able to use the title once your wife inherits her position as Lady, usually after the death of her parents.
The finer details of the aristocracy can be extremely complex, and given the centuries of evolution involved in the British nobility, there are often legal limitations and nuances that can dictate the use of certain titles and any privileges attached.
As a result, opting for the marriage route of obtaining a Lordship would require considerable due diligence.
While these pathways to becoming a Lord still exist in modern times, perhaps the most modern – not to mention the fastest – way to become an English Lord is to simply purchase the title outright.
While genuine English Lordships are extremely rare, with a little homework and the right connections, you might find that this is the simplest and most reliable path to becoming a true English Lord, along with all the social esteem and advantage that goes along with it.