Saturday, April 28, 2012

Viscounts and Viscountesses

The rank in the peerage below earls and above barons is that of a viscount -- and though it's tempting to pronouce the S, it's actually silent.

A viscount is often be the oldest son of an earl or a marquess, holding his title as a courtesy based on his father's rank. Or he can be the holder of the title in his own right, if it's the most exalted title in the family. A viscount's wife is a viscountess.

His children don't hold titles, other than being formally addressed as The Honorable Firstname Lastname, and the oldest son of a viscount -- unlike the heir of a higher-ranking peer --is treated no differently from his younger brothers.

Today a viscount's daughters are simply called Miss Lastname, regardless of their order of birth. In the more-formal days of the Regency and Victorian eras, the oldest daughter was given a bit more status by being called Miss Lastname, while her younger sisters were known as Miss Firstname Lastname.

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