Another trend — Scottish “peerage” titles for sale!

By William Pherrel

I have mentioned in an earlier blog that the only genuinely purchasable noble title is that of Scottish baron. But first, I would like to explain what a baron is.

“Baron” takes its origin from the old French word baron, itself having its roots from the Frankish baro, which means “freeman” or “warrior.” It was later combined with the cognate Old English word beorn meaning “nobleman” and is essentially known among the Scottish as “Laird.”

William I of England (1027 – Sept. 9, 1087) or otherwise know as William the Conqueror, had first introduced the title of baron as a rank to distinguish those who had vowed allegiance to him. Until then, the king’s companions bore the titles of Earl in England and Thane in Scotland. All those who bore the new title became equally “in chief of the king” and were thus pledged to undertake various services and were welcome to attend the king’s council.

The rank of baron is the last in the consecutive list of ranks beginning with Emperor, King, Prince, Grand Duke, Archduke, Duke, Marquess, Margrave, Count/Earl, Viscount and finally ending with Baron.

The legal right to bear this title is now obsolete in England but has remained in Scotland, merely related to the feudal nobility of Scotland; meaning, the holder has feudal superiority over a given territory set up into a “free barony” or manor by a Crown Charter, but does not possesses a rank of peerage. Hence, the Scottish Baron is classified merely as Lord of Parliament.

With this in mind, it would be erroneous to conclude that the purchase of the baron title would automatically provide the bearer with a rank within the peerage or nobility of Scotland or England. The Scottish barony titles can either be bought in one’s own right as a single owner, or on a shared basis, i.e. co-ownership of shares within a lordship or manor. The purchase prices range from approximately $ 1,000.00 to approximately $ 120,000.00 and are on a first come first serve basis.

In 2004 for example, the title of Baron of MacDonald was up for sale, along with the Knock Castle in Skye for $ 1.5 million. In this case, the single title bearer would then be considered to possess the lordship of Knock Castle. A similar lordship can be shared however, where the purchaser can obtain the title of Baron for a much lesser sum. Being that there is a limited number of lordships to claim (as such titles were once connected to the “free barony’s” territory, the scarcity of land dictates the number of titles to claim, as well as the value and worth of said titles.