Citizens, your supreme Leader – the always aristocratic TFD! – is not above purchasing a title for Himself, and has in fact done so this very day! I am now – not so officially – a Laird of Chaol Ghleann, Dunans Castle, Scotland!
The purchase will help to restore the badly fire-damaged castle and gives me – amongst other rights and privileges – the ability to wear the special tartan of the clan and to have fishing rights on the river near the castle. 🙂
Laird is a generic name for the owner of a large, long-established Scottish estate, roughly equivalent to an esquire in England, yet ranking above the same in Scotland.
In the Scottish order of precedence, a laird ranks below a baron and above a gentleman. This rank is only held by those lairds holding official recognition in a territorial designation by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. They are usually styled [name] [surname] of [lairdship], and are traditionally entitled to place ‘The Much Honoured’ before their name.
The Lord Lyon, Scotland’s authority on titles, has produced the following guidance regarding the current use of the term laird as a courtesy title:
The word “laird” is known to have been used from the 15th century, and is a shortened form of laverd, derived from the Old English word hlafweard meaning “warden of loaves”.
The word “lord” is of the same origin, and would have formerly been interchangeable with “laird”; however, in modern usage the term “lord” is associated with a peerage title, and thus the terms have come to have separate meanings.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, the designation was used for land owners holding directly of the Crown, and therefore were entitled to attend Parliament. Lairds reigned over their estates like princes, their castles forming a small court. Originally in the 16th and 17th centuries, the designation was applied to the head chief of a highland clan and therefore was not personal property and had obligations towards the community.
A laird is said to hold a lairdship. A woman who holds a lairdship in her own right has been styled with the honorific “Lady”.
Although “laird” is sometimes translated as lord and historically signifies the same, like the English term lord of the manor “laird” is not a title of nobility. The designation is a ‘corporeal hereditament’ (an inheritable property that has an explicit tie to the physical land), i.e. the designation cannot be held in gross, and cannot be bought and sold without selling the physical land.
The designation does not entitle the owner to sit in the House of Lords and is the Scottish equivalent to an English squire, in that it is not a noble title, more a courtesy designation meaning landowner with no other rights assigned to it.
A contemporary popular view of Lairdship titles has taken a unique twist in the 21st century in millions of sales of souvenir land plots from buyers who show no interests in the opinions of the Registry of Scotland or of the Court of Lyon. They see their contract purporting to sell a plot of Scottish souvenir land as bestowing them the informal right to the title Laird.
This is despite the fact that the buyer does not acquire ownership of the plot because registration of the plot is prohibited by Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012, s 22 (1)(b). As ownership of land in Scotland requires registration of a valid disposition under Land Registration (Scotland) Act 2012, s 50 (2) the prohibition on registration of a souvenir plot means the buyer does not acquire ownership, and accordingly has no entitlement to a descriptive title premised on landownership.
Traditionally, a laird is formally styled in the manner evident on the 1730 tombstone in a Scottish churchyard. It reads: “The Much Honoured [Forename (John)] [Surname (Grant)] Laird of [Lairdship (Glenmoriston)]”. The section titled Scottish Feudal Baronies in Debrett’s states that the use of the prefix “The Much Hon.” is “correct”, but that “most lairds prefer the unadorned name and territorial designation”.
Another acceptable style is: “The Much Honoured” The Laird of [Lairdship]”.
Currently, the most formal style for the wife of a laird remains “Lady”, as is a woman who holds a lairdship in her own right. Both women can be formally styled as “The Much Honoured [Forename] [Surname] of [Lairdship]” or, as is described in Peter Holman’s Moray-based publication Life After Death: “The Much Honoured The Lady Thunderton [of Thunderton, ie Lairdship]”.
My Citizens, to celebrate my accession, I will share the classic (and in my case, highly-appropriately named) recipe for the great Scottish dessert, the Tipsy (aka Typsy) Laird! It is a Scottish version of the classic English trifle, but made with Drambuie, Sherry and Whisky instead of Sherry alone.
My version is ferociously authentic – I hope you enjoy it! 😀
Blàr air – An Generalissimo (Scots Gaelic version of my classic sign-off!)