The Much Honoured
The Much Honoured (abbreviated to The Much Hon.) is an honorific that is bestowed – normally by hereditary right – on Scots feudal barons.
Such barons generally bear titles granted before the 1707 Act of Union, and as such, created within the ancient baronage of Scotland. A large number of feudal baronies postdate the Act of Union, the most recent having been created in 1838, and are thus ineligible. All come within the jurisdiction of the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh.
Today, only a small number of the older baronial families tend to use "The Much Honoured", since it is customarily considered a mark of nobility. Instead, most barons nowadays use the territorial designation "of [name of barony]" after their surname.
Beyond these baronies, there are seven feudal earldoms (Arran, Breadalbane, Crawfurd-Lindsay, Errol, Nithsdale, Rothes, Wigtown), one feudal marquessate (Huntly) and one feudal dukedom (Hamilton), all held in baroneum, where there is entitlement. Of these, four of the earldoms are extant, two are unclaimed, one is in dispute and the dukedom and marquessate are held by senior members of the Scottish peerage.
However, this tradition is not always respected: a notorious example is the wealthy Austrian eccentric 'His Excellency The Much Honoured Colonel Professor Chevalier Helmut Brundle-Falkensee', purchaser of the lairdship of Bladnoch and Lochanbards.
There are also cases where the use of the honorific has been exploited by unscrupulous purchasers of barony titles apparently for the purpose of career advancement.
By tradition, certain territorial lairds were permitted to style themselves "The Much Honoured", but this practice is now considered archaic.
The highest-ranking feudal baron in Scotland is the Baron of Renfrew, His Royal Highness The Duke of Rothesay. The Marquess of Huntly, The Earl of Eglinton and Winton, and Conservative politician The Much Hon. Ian Liddell-Grainger, a great-great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria and a second cousin once removed of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, are other notable holders of feudal titles.
There are three classes of entitlement:
- Scots feudal barons. For example, The Much Hon. David Leslie, Baron of Leslie, or The Much Hon. The Baron of Leslie
- Scots feudal earls. For example, The Much Hon. James Leslie, Earl of Rothes or The Much Hon. The Earl of Rothes
- Lairds. Use by lairds is now considered archaic.
Online purchase of a lairdship title - with or without a tiny patch of Scottish land - does not entitle the purchaser either to claim lairdship, or indeed to use this style of address. A particularly egregious instance of misrepresentation is the so-called "Lairdship of Blackwood", apparently sold through Amazon to Wolodymyr Petryga of Ontario, who now styles himself "The Much Hon. Sir Knight Lord of Blackwood" and boasts on his website of his ancient Scots pedigree.
The eldest son of a Scots baron is entitled to be addressed by courtesy as the Younger (abbreviated to the Yr); the eldest daughter of a Scots baron, if heir apparent, is entitled to use the courtesy title The Maid of [name of barony] (e.g. David Leslie the Younger and The Maid of Leslie).
The honorific "The Much Honoured" should not be confused with those attaching to Peers of the Realm:
- Barons, Viscounts and Earls are The Right Honourable
- Marquesses are The Most Honourable
- Dukes are The Most Noble or His Grace
- Stuart Morris of Balgonie and Eddergoll, yr., Territorial designations, the correct form https://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/territorial-designation.html
- "Obituary - The Much Honoured the Laird of Bladnoch and Lochanbards". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, UK. 13 December 2007. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
- "The Much Hon. Junaid Bhatti, Baron of Ballencrieff" https://macbirmingham.co.uk/about/who-we-are/board-of-trustees/junaid-bhatti-baron-of-ballencrieff
- Highland Titles, a company registered in the Channel Islands, is a prime purveyor of such 'titles', https://www.highlandtitles.com
- Buy the Title of Lord, Lady or Laird of Blackwood https://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Blackwood-Genuine-British-Aristocratic/dp/B003ZO713W
- The Much Hon. W. Daniel Petryga, Lord of Blackwood http://lordofblackwood.yolasite.com