British Aristocracy

The aristocracy is considered to be the highest class in society below the monarch, who has personally granted these titles. Previously, the titles conveyed feudal and legal privileges, and in no other country in Europe did the aristocrats yield so much influence and hold so many privileges as in Scotland.

The British aristocracy consists of two entities, the peerage and the gentry. The peerage consists of five ranks in descending order of hierarchy: duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron, and the members are titled.

The rest of the aristocracy is referred to as the gentry. Baronets, knights, lairds and lords-of-the-manor are all holders of hereditary titles, and while not peers they constitute the landed gentry, which is the lower British aristocracy.

The conveyance of titles in Scotland is fundamentally different from conveyance of titles in England. English titles are titles of peerage, belonging to the nobility and giving statutory privileges, for instance the right to hold certain offices like those in the House of Lords. Scottish titles, on the other hand, are feudal, traditionally implying a link to the ownership of land.

For this reason English titles of nobility cannot be purchased except the lord-of-the-manor title, whereas Scottish titles are transferable as long as they are sold together with the land. In addition to the title of laird it is also possible to purchase the feudal titles of baron and earl (although in an entirely different price range and not provided by Historic Estates Ltd).