Writ of acceleration

A writ in acceleration, commonly called a writ of acceleration, was a type of writ of summons that enabled the eldest son and heir apparent of a peer with multiple peerage titles to attend the British or Irish House of Lords, using one of his father's subsidiary titles. This procedure could be used to lower the average age of the house, and increase the number of capable members in a house that drew on a very small pool of talent (a few dozen families in its early centuries, a few hundred in its later centuries), without increasing the effective size of the peerage and thereby diluting the exclusivity of noble titles.

The procedure of writs of acceleration was introduced by King Edward IV in the mid 15th century. It was a fairly rare occurrence, and only 98 writs of acceleration were issued in over 400 years. The last writ of acceleration was issued in 1992 to the Conservative politician and close political associate of John Major, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount Cranborne, the eldest son and heir apparent of the 6th Marquess of Salisbury. He was summoned as Baron Cecil of Essendon and not as Viscount Cranborne, the title he used by courtesy. The procedure of writs of acceleration was abolished through the House of Lords Act 1999, along with the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords.

Procedure

A writ of acceleration was granted only if the title being accelerated was a subsidiary one, and not the main title, and if the beneficiary of the writ was the heir apparent of the actual holder of the title; thus the elder peer was always at least a viscount. The heir apparent was not always summoned in his courtesy title; rather, almost every person summoned to Parliament by virtue of a writ of acceleration was summoned in one of his father’s baronies. For example, William Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington, heir apparent of William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, was summoned as Baron Cavendish of Hardwick. It was not possible for heirs apparent of peers in the Peerage of Scotland and Peerage of Ireland to be given writs of acceleration after 1707 and 1801, respectively, as holders of titles in these peerages were not automatically guaranteed a seat in the British House of Lords.

An heir apparent receiving such a writ took the precedence within the House of Lords owing to the title accelerated. For example, when Viscount Cranborne was accelerated to the barony of Cecil (created 1603), he took precedence ahead of all barons in Parliament created after that date.

If an accelerated baron dies before his father, the barony passes to his heirs if any (according to the remainder governing the creation of the barony), else to his father. For example, Charles Boyle, Viscount Dungarvan, the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Burlington, was summoned to Parliament in 1689 in his father's barony of Clifford of Lanesborough, but predeceased his father. His son, the Earl's grandson, was granted a writ of attendance to the Lords in the barony.[1]

Acceleration can affect the numbering of holders of peerages. In the example above, the 1st Earl of Burlington was also the 1st Baron Clifford of Lanesborough. His son Charles was, by virtue of the writ of accelaration, summoned to Parliament as Baron Clifford of Lanesborough, but predeceased his father. On the death of the 1st Earl of Burlington, Charles' son thus became the 2nd Earl of Burlington, but 3rd Baron Clifford of Lanesborough (the accelerated barony had indeed passed to him on his father's death).

Notable examples

Two issues of writs of acceleration may be especially noted. In 1628 James Stanley, Lord Strange, heir apparent of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, was summoned to the House of Lords in the ancient Barony of Strange (created in 1299), a title assumed by his father. However, the House of Lords later decided that the sixth Earl’s assumption of the Barony of Strange had been erroneous. Consequently, it was deemed that there were now two Baronies of Strange, the original one created in 1299 and the new one, created "accidentally" in 1628 (see the Baron Strange for more information). Another noteworthy writ of acceleration was issued in 1717 to Charles Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, heir apparent of Charles Paulet, 2nd Duke of Bolton. He was meant to be summoned in his father's junior title of Baron St John of Basing, but was mistakenly summoned as Baron Pawlett of Basing. This inadvertently created a new peerage. However, the Barony of Pawlett of Basing became extinct on his death, while the Dukedom was passed on to his younger brother, the fourth Duke. The summons of Thomas Butler, 6th Earl of Ossory to the English House of Lords in 1666, as Baron Butler, of Moore Park, may also represent an error for a writ of acceleration in his father's peerage of Baron Butler, of Lanthony (cr. 1660).

Alternatives

When it had been decided that the eldest son of a peer should become a member of the House of Lords, the alternative to a writ of acceleration was to create a completely new peerage. For example, in 1832 Edward Smith-Stanley, Lord Stanley, son and heir apparent of Edward Smith-Stanley, 12th Earl of Derby, was given a new peerage as Baron Stanley, of Bickerstaffe. Two years later he succeeded his father in the Earldom. This was in contrast to his son, Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, who in 1844 was summoned to the House of Lords through a writ of acceleration in the aforementioned title of Baron Stanley, of Bickerstaffe.

Other examples of new peerages being created for heirs apparent include the barony of Butler in the peerage of England, 1666, for Thomas Butler, 6th Earl of Ossory, eldest son of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, who sat in the English House of Lords by virtue of this title, although he had been accelerated to the Irish House of Lords as Earl of Ossory.

Similarly, after his career in the House of Commons was ended by a defeat in the 1974 general election, Lord Balniel was given a life peerage as Baron Balniel, of Pitcorthie in the County of Fife, enabling him to sit in the House of Lords before succeeding his father, David Lindsay, 28th Earl of Crawford in 1975.

By contrast, after retiring from the House of Commons in 1992, George Younger, 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie was conferred a life peerage as Baron Younger of Prestwick, of Ayr in the District of Kyle and Carrick, there being no peerage held by his father other than the viscountcy. For reason both that his father was a baron and that he had no other peerages, John Wyndham, 1st Baron Egremont could not be sent to House of Lords by writ of acceleration, but was created Baron Egremont in 1964, by which title he continued to be known after succeeding as 6th Baron Leconfield in 1967.

Eldest sons of peers who had not received a writ of acceleration or a new peerage were eligible to stand for election to the House of Commons. It was far more common for eldest sons of peers to sit in the House of Commons than to receive a writ of acceleration or a new peerage. Before the 20th century, it was generally very easy for such men to find a constituency willing to elect them if they had any inclination for politics.

Writs of acceleration to the English, later British, House of Lords

DatePerson summonedSummoned asSucceeded asNotes
1482Thomas FitzAlan, Lord MaltraversBaron MaltraversEarl of Arundel (1487)
5 February 1533Henry FitzAlan, Lord MaltraversBaron MaltraversEarl of Arundel (1544)
George Boleyn, Viscount RochfordViscount RochfordNever succeededOnly son of Thomas Boleyn, 1st Earl of Wiltshire; brother of Anne Boleyn
17 February 1533Francis Talbot, Lord TalbotBaron TalbotEarl of Shrewsbury (1538)
4 October 1544John Paulet, Lord St John of BasingBaron St John of BasingMarquess of Winchester (1572)
5 January 1553John Dudley, Earl of WarwickEarl of WarwickEarl of Warwick (1553)
5 January 1553George Talbot, Lord TalbotBaron TalbotEarl of Shrewsbury (1560)
1 March 1553Francis Russell, Lord RussellBaron RussellEarl of Bedford (1555)
14 August 1553Thomas Radclyffe, Viscount FitzWalterBaron FitzWalterEarl of Sussex (1553)
23 January 1559Henry Hastings, Lord HastingsBaron HastingsEarl of Huntingdon (1560)
23 January 1559Henry Stanley, Lord StrangeBaron StrangeEarl of Derby (1572)
5 May 1572William Paulet, Lord St John of BasingBaron St John of BasingMarquess of Winchester (1576)
January 1581John Russell, Lord RussellBaron RussellNever succeededHeir apparent of Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, but predeceased his father.
28 January 1589Gilbert Talbot, Lord TalbotBaron TalbotEarl of Shrewsbury (1590)
28 January 1589Ferdinando Stanley, Lord StrangeBaron StrangeEarl of Derby (1593)
31 January 1604William Howard, Lord Howard of EffinghamBaron Howard of EffinghamNever succeededHeir apparent of Charles Howard, 1st Earl of Nottingham, but predeceased his father.
31 January 1604Henry Somerset, Lord HerbertBaron HerbertEarl of Worcester (1628)created Marquess of Worcester in 1642
8 February 1610Thomas Clinton, Lord Clinton de SayBaron ClintonEarl of Lincoln (1572)
8 February 1610Theophilus Howard, Lord Howard de WaldenBaron Howard de WaldenEarl of Suffolk (1626)
February 1621William Seymour, Lord BeauchampBaron BeauchampEarl of Hertford (1621)restored to the forfeit title of Duke of Somerset in 1660
10 February 1624John Paulet, Lord St John of BasingBaron St John of BasingMarquess of Winchester (1628)
28 March 1626Algernon Percy, Lord PercyBaron PercyEarl of Northumberland (1632)
1 April 1626Spencer Compton, Lord ComptonBaron ComptonEarl of Northampton (1630)
22 May 1626Edward Montagu, Lord KimboltonBaron Montagu of KimboltonEarl of Manchester (1642)
February 1628Henry Ley, Lord LeyBaron LeyEarl of Marlborough (1629)
7 March 1628James Stanley, Lord StrangeBaron StrangeEarl of Derby (1642)See introduction
23 April 1628Hon. Edward ConwayBaron Conway de RagleyViscount Conway (1631)
3 November 1640Charles Howard, Viscount AndoverBaron Howard of CharltonEarl of Berkshire (1669)
3 November 1640Ferdinando Hastings, Lord HastingsBaron HastingsEarl of Huntingdon (1643)
3 November 1640Hon. Thomas WentworthBaron WentworthNever succeededHeir apparent of Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Cleveland, but predeceased his father.
3 November 1640Montagu Bertie, Lord Willoughby de EresbyBaron Willoughby de EresbyEarl of Lindsey (1642)
27 November 1640John Carey, Viscount RochfordBaron Hunsdon of HunsdonEarl of Dover (1666)
11 January 1641Henry Pierrepont, Lord PierrepontBaron PierrepontEarl of Kingston-upon-Hull (1643)created Marquess of Dorchester in 1645
26 January 1641Robert Rich, Lord RichBaron RichEarl of Warwick (1658)
14 May 1641Oliver St John, Lord St John of BletsoBaron St John of BletsoNever succeededHeir apparent of Oliver St John, 1st Earl of Bolingbroke, but predeceased his father.
9 June 1641George Digby, Lord DigbyBaron DigbyEarl of Bristol (1653)
14 January 1678Henry Howard, Earl of ArundelBaron MowbrayDuke of Norfolk (1684)
22 October 1680Robert Leke, Lord DeincourtBaron DeincourtEarl of Scarsdale (1681)
1 November 1680Hon. Conyers DarcyBaron ConyersEarl of Holderness (1689)
11 July 1689Charles Berkeley, Viscount DursleyBaron BerkeleyEarl of Berkeley (1698)
11 July 1689Robert Sidney, Viscount L'IsleBaron Sydney of PenshurstEarl of Leicester (1698)
16 July 1689Charles Boyle, 3rd Viscount DungarvanBaron CliffordNever succeededHeir apparent of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington, but predeceased his father
16 July 1689Charles Granville, Lord LansdownBaron GranvilleEarl of Bath (1701)
3 March 1690Peregrine Osborne, 2nd Viscount DunblaneBaron OsborneDuke of Leeds (1712)
19 April 1690Robert Bertie, Lord Willoughby de EresbyBaron Willoughby de EresbyEarl of Lindsey (1701)created Marquess of Lindsey in 1706 and Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven in 1715
5 March 1705James Berkeley, Viscount DursleyBaron BerkeleyEarl of Berkeley (1710)
28 December 1711James Compton, Lord ComptonBaron ComptonEarl of Northampton (1727)
29 December 1711Charles Bruce, Viscount Bruce of AmpthillBaron Bruce of WhorltonEarl of Ailesbury (1741)
28 January 1713Peregrine Osborne, Viscount OsborneBaron OsborneDuke of Leeds (1729)
4 March 1715Richard Lumley, Viscount LumleyBaron LumleyEarl of Scarbrough (1721)
16 March 1715Peregrine Bertie, Marquess of LindseyBaron Willoughby de EresbyDuke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1723)
12 April 1717Charles Paulet, Marquess of WinchesterBaron Pawlett of BasingDuke of Bolton (1722)See introduction
8 November 1718Anthony Grey, Earl of HaroldBaron Lucas of CrudwellNever succeededHeir apparent of Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, but predeceased his father.
24 May 1723Hon. Charles TownshendBaron TownshendViscount Townshend (1738)As his father was already Lord Townshend, Charles was styled Lord Lynn after the barony's territorial designation of Lynn Regis
11 June 1733John Hervey, Lord HerveyBaron HerveyNever succeededHeir apparent of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, but predeceased his father.
17 January 1734John Poulett, Viscount HintonBaron PoulettEarl Poulett (1743)As his father was already Lord Poulett, John was styled Lord Hinton after the barony's territorial designation of Hinton St George
22 January 1750Henry Hyde, Viscount CornburyBaron HydeNever succeededHeir apparent of Henry Hyde, 4th Earl of Clarendon, but predeceased his father.
13 June 1751William Cavendish, Marquess of HartingtonBaron Cavendish of HardwickDuke of Devonshire (1755)
15 May 1776[2]Francis Osborne, Marquess of CarmarthenBaron OsborneDuke of Leeds (1789)
30 November 1798Robert Hobart, Lord HobartBaron HobartEarl of Buckinghamshire (1804)
25 February 1799[3]George Granville Leveson-Gower, Earl GowerBaron GowerMarquess of Stafford (1803)created Duke of Sutherland in 1833.
29 June 1801[4]Thomas Pelham, Lord Pelham of StanmerBaron Pelham of StanmerEarl of Chichester (1805)
15 June 1801George Legge, Viscount LewishamBaron DartmouthEarl of Dartmouth (1801)
15 November 1803[5]Robert Jenkinson, Lord HawkesburyBaron HawkesburyEarl of Liverpool (1808)
16 October 1804[6]George Ashburnham, Viscount St AsaphBaron AshburnhamEarl of Ashburnham (1812)
12 March 1806[7]George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of BlandfordBaron Spencer of WormleightonDuke of Marlborough (1817)
4 November 1806[8]Alexander Hamilton, Marquess of Douglas and ClydesdaleBaron DuttonDuke of Hamilton (1819)
11 April 1807[9]Charles Montagu-Scott, Earl of DalkeithBaron Scott of TyndaleDuke of Buccleuch and Queensberry (1812)
11 April 1807[9]George Gordon, Marquess of HuntlyBaron GordonDuke of Gordon (1827)
12 March 1812[10]Hugh Percy, Earl PercyBaron PercyDuke of Northumberland (1817)
5 January 1822George Cholmondeley, Earl of RocksavageBaron NewburghMarquess of Cholmondeley (1827)
22 November 1826[11]George Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Earl GowerBaron GowerDuke of Sutherland (1833)At the time of the writ of acceleration, he was heir apparent of George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Marquess of Stafford, who was created Duke of Sutherland in 1833
15 January 1833[12]Henry Paget, Earl of UxbridgeBaron Paget of BeaudesertMarquess of Anglesey (1854)
15 January 1833[12]Francis Russell, Marquess of TavistockBaron HowlandDuke of Bedford (1839)
15 January 1833[12]George Grey, Lord Grey of GrobyBaron Grey of GrobyNever succeededHeir apparent of George Grey, 6th Earl of Stamford, but predeceased his father.
8 January 1835[13]George Pratt, Earl of BrecknockBaron CamdenMarquess Camden (1840)
2 July 1838[14]Francis D'Arcy-Osborne, Marquess of CarmarthenBaron OsborneDuke of Leeds (1838)
5 July 1838[15]George Brudenell-Bruce, Earl BruceBaron Bruce of TottenhamMarquess of Ailesbury (1856)
28 February 1839[16]Hugh Fortescue, Viscount EbringtonBaron FortescueEarl Fortescue (1841)
16 August 1841Henry Fitzalan-Howard, Earl of Arundel and SurreyBaron MaltraversDuke of Norfolk (1842)
8 September 1841[17]William Lowther, Viscount LowtherBaron LowtherEarl of Lonsdale (1844)
4 November 1844[18]Edward Smith-Stanley, Lord StanleyBaron StanleyEarl of Derby (1851)
8 April 1853[19]George Byng, Viscount EnfieldBaron StraffordEarl of Strafford (1860)
11 July 1856[20]Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, Earl of ShelburneBaron WycombeMarquess of Lansdowne (1863)
6 May 1859[21]Charles Bennett, Lord OssulstonBaron OssulstonEarl of Tankerville (1859)
5 December 1859[22]Hugh Fortescue, Viscount EbringtonBaron FortescueEarl Fortescue (1861)
9 July 1863[23]Ferdinand Seymour, Earl St MaurBaron SeymourNever succeededHeir apparent of Edward Seymour, 12th Duke of Somerset, but predeceased his father.
14 September 1870[24]William Eliot, Lord EliotBaron EliotEarl of St Germans (1877)
26 February 1874[25]George Byng, Viscount EnfieldBaron StraffordEarl of Strafford (1886)Byng had been in the Commons until defeated at the general election the previous month
5 September 1876[26]William Keppell, Viscount BuryBaron AshfordEarl of Albemarle (1891)
12 April 1880[27]William Amherst, Viscount HolmesdaleBaron AmherstEarl Amherst (1886)
22 July 1887[28]Henry Percy, Earl PercyBaron LovaineDuke of Northumberland (1899)
6 June 1896[29]Henry Manners, Marquess of GranbyBaron MannersDuke of Rutland (1906)
9 January 1941[30]Roundell Palmer, Viscount WolmerBaron SelborneEarl of Selborne (1942)Had resigned from the Commons two months earlier
21 January 1941[31]Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount CranborneBaron Cecil of EssendonMarquess of Salisbury (1947)Sitting in the Commons at the time the writ was issued
16 January 1951[32]Gilbert Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby, Lord Willoughby de EresbyBaron Willoughby de EresbyEarl of Ancaster (1951)
29 April 1992[33]Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Viscount CranborneBaron Cecil of EssendonMarquess of Salisbury (2003)created a life peer as Baron Gascoyne-Cecil in 1999

Writs of acceleration to the Irish House of Lords

DatePerson summonedSummoned asSucceeded asNotes
13 July 1608Henry O'Brien, Lord IbrickaneBaron IbrickaneEarl of Thomond (1624)
8 August 1662Thomas Butler, Earl of OssoryEarl of OssoryNever succeededHeir apparent of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde, but predeceased his father.
8 August 1662Charles MacCarty, Viscount MuskerryViscount MuskerryNever succeededHeir apparent of Donough MacCarty, 1st Earl of Clancarty, but predeceased his father.
28 January 1663Charles Boyle, Viscount DungarvanViscount DungarvanNever succeededHeir apparent of Richard Boyle, 2nd Earl of Cork, but predeceased his father.
30 October 1665William Brabazon, Lord BrabazonBaron Brabazon of ArdeeEarl of Meath (1675)
4 October 1711Michael Burke, Lord DunkellinBaron of DunkellinEarl of Clanricarde (1722)
9 March 1715Chaworth Brabazon, Lord BrabazonBaron Brabazon of ArdeeEarl of Meath (1715)
23 March 1736James Hamilton, Lord PaisleyBaron MountcastleEarl of Abercorn (1744)

French peerage

In the peerage of the Ancien Régime of France, a similar procedure was possible: the resignation of peerage. Any lay peerall of them dukescould resign his peerage to his heir, thus allowing the heir to enjoy all privileges of peerage, such as presence in Parliament. The eldest peer was almost always granted a brevet allowing him to keep the honors and precedence of the resigned peerage. In many cases, the procedure of resignation was only used to grant heirs, often around the time of their wedding, new titles: as both men had now the honors of a duke but only one similarly named dukedom could exist at any time, one of the two took a new title (such as duc de Chaulnes and duc de Picquigny, or duc de Saint-Simon and duc de Ruffec). This procedure was different from the use of a courtesy title by the eldest son of a peer holding multiple dukedoms (such as the duc de Luynes, also duc de Chevreuse). From 1755, the royal authorization for these resignations was no longer granted; the king chose instead to grant brevets of precedence to the heirs rather than to their fathers after resignation. The first one of these brevet dukes was Louis-Léon de Brancas, eldest son of the Duke of Villars, brevetted Duke of Lauragais in 1755.

References

  1. "Lords Hansard Test for 11 May 1999". 11 May 1999. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
  2. "No. 11665". The London Gazette. 11 May 1776. p. 2.
  3. "No. 15110". The London Gazette. 23 February 1799. p. 191.
  4. "No. 15380". The London Gazette. 27 June 1801. p. 719.
  5. "No. 15644". The London Gazette. 15 November 1803. p. 1589.
  6. "No. 15745". The London Gazette. 13 October 1804. p. 1284.
  7. "No. 15899". The London Gazette. 15 March 1806. p. 342.
  8. "No. 15971". The London Gazette. 1 November 1806. p. 1438.
  9. "No. 16018". The London Gazette. 11 April 1807. p. 449.
  10. "No. 16583". The London Gazette. 14 March 1812. p. 497.
  11. "No. 18310". The London Gazette. 1 December 1826. p. 2834.
  12. "No. 19003". The London Gazette. 11 December 1832. p. 2709.
  13. "No. 19228". The London Gazette. 9 January 1835. p. 42.
  14. "No. 19629". The London Gazette. 26 June 1838. p. 1445.
  15. "No. 19633". The London Gazette. 6 July 1838. p. 1533.
  16. "No. 19712". The London Gazette. 1 March 1839. p. 460.
  17. "No. 20015". The London Gazette. 7 September 1841. p. 2248.
  18. "No. 20392". The London Gazette. 8 October 1844. p. 3452.
  19. "No. 21429". The London Gazette. 8 April 1853. p. 1028.
  20. "No. 21900". The London Gazette. 11 July 1856. p. 2409.
  21. "No. 22260". The London Gazette. 6 May 1859. p. 1866.
  22. "No. 22333". The London Gazette. 6 December 1859. p. 4637.
  23. "No. 22751". The London Gazette. 7 July 1863. p. 3399.
  24. "No. 23658". The London Gazette. 16 September 1870. p. 4175.
  25. "No. 24068". The London Gazette. 24 February 1874. p. 827.
  26. "No. 24360". The London Gazette. 5 September 1876. p. 4867.
  27. "No. 24833". The London Gazette. 13 April 1880. p. 2510.
  28. "No. 25723". The London Gazette. 22 July 1887. p. 4001.
  29. "No. 26747". The London Gazette. 9 June 1896. p. 3381.
  30. "No. 35039". The London Gazette. 9 January 1941. p. 191.
  31. "No. 35054". The London Gazette. 24 January 1941. p. 489.
  32. "No. 39127". The London Gazette. 19 January 1951. p. 363.
  33. "No. 52911". The London Gazette. 5 May 1992. p. 7756.
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