Royalty, Nobility and Gentry of Scotland in the 16th Century

For our theme time period, we are interested in peers created in the Kingdom of Scotland before the Acts of Union in 1707.

Scottish peers had the right to sit in the Parliament of Scotland.

Scottish peerages pass from father to son. If there is no son, then the title would pass to the eldest daughter. Unlike British peerages, the title can be passed on to or through someone who was not legitimate at birth, provided that his parents later married.

The ranks of the Scottish Peerage are DukeMarquessEarlViscountLord of Parliament (lord baron).

Scottish Barons rank below Lords of Parliament, and, while noble, are not conventionally considered peerage titles; unlike others, the title can be bought and sold. A Scottish feudal barony is associated with land.

Although not royalty or noble, I will also include the rank of knight in this topic.

You will find noted below forms of reference and address for the wives of nobility, but not husbands who may have married a female noble. It is expected that she will use the appropriate form of reference and address appropriate to the wife of a man of his rank. She may also continue to use her own title and be addressed in that way if her rank is higher than that of her husband.

*Note: This is not intended to be an academic treatment of the subject and I do not guarantee historical accuracy. The intent of this article is to provide a framework for entertainment purposes in Second Life. If I have made any glaring errors, I would be grateful for feedback and correction.



Depicted at the left is the Scottish crown made for James V in 1540.

Forms of Address: Scottish monarchs were addressed as “Your Grace”, before the Acts of Union of 1707. He or she would be referred to as “His Grace” or “Her Grace”. After initially addressing the monarch as “Your Grace”, the King can be addressed as “Sire” and the Queen as “Ma’am”.

The Coronation Oath sworn by every King of Scots from James VI to Charles II and was approved by the Parliament of Scotland in 1567:

I, N.N., promise faithfully, in the presence of the eternal, my God, that I, enduring the whole Course of my Life, shall serve the same Eternal, my God, to the utmost of my Power, accordingly as he required in his most Holy Word, revealed and contained in the New and Old Testament; and according to the same Word shall maintain the true Religion of Jesus Christ, the preaching of his Holy Word, and due and right administration of his Sacraments, now received and practised within this Realm; and shall abolish and oppose all false Religion contrary to the same; and shall rule the People committed to my Charge, according to the Will and Command of God, revealed in his foresaid Word, and according to the lovable Laws and Constitutions received in this Realm, in no way repugnant to the said Word of the Eternal, my God; and shall procure to my utmost to the Kirk of God and whole Christian people true and perfect Peace in all times coming; the Rights and Rents, with all just privileges of the Crown of Scotland, I shall preserve and keep inviolate, neither shall I transfer nor alienate the same; I shall forbid and repress in all Estates and all Degrees theft, Oppression and all kind of Wrong; in all Judgements, I shall command and procure that Justice and Equity be kept to all creatures without exception, as he be merciful to me and you that is the Lord and Father of all Mercies; and out of all my lands and empire I shall be careful to root out all Heresy and Enemies to the true Worship of God, that shall be convicted by the true Kirk of God of the foresaid Crimes; and these Things above-written I faithfully affirm by my solemn Oath.

The Royal Consort of Scotland was the spouse of the Monarch of Scotland. A queen consort usually shares her husband’s rank and holds the feminine equivalent of the king’s monarchical titles. Historically, queens consort do not share the king regnant’s political and military powers. The Royal Consort would be addressed as “Your Grace” and would be referred to as “His Grace” or “Her Grace”.



The Prince of Scotland , heir apparent to the Scottish Throne, in our time frame would have the titles of Scottish titles of Duke of RothesayEarl of CarrickLord of the Isles and Baron Renfrew.

Depicted is the coronet of the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of England. The British nobility have different coronets for different ranks, and pictures of them are readily available on the internet. I have been able to find a picture of the Scottish crown, but I have not been able to find equivalent coronets for Scottish nobility. For our environment, it will be acceptable to use the english equivalent if one desires to wear a coronet, even if not historically accurate. (If anyone has more information about Scottish coronets, if they existed, I would appreciate being pointed to that information.)

Forms of Address: He would most commonly be referred to as the Duke of Rothesay, just as the heir apparent to the British throne would be referred to as the Duke of Wales. Today, HRH Prince Charles holds all of these titles. The wife of the heir apparent to the Scottish throne would be referred to as the Duchess of Rothesay. Initially you would address the Prince or Princess as “Your Royal Highness” and afterward as “Sir” or “Ma’am”. The wife of the Prince, the Princess Consort, would be referred to and addressed in the same manner.



We do not encourage the portrayal of children in our environment, and as a child or grandchild became of age, he would be granted land and a title, most likely Duke or Earl, or if a female, married to someone of high rank.

Forms of Address: The children and grandchildren of the Sovereign would be referred to as “HRH (His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness) Prince/Princess (name) of (wherever)”. Initially he or she would be addressed as “Your Royal Highness”, and after that Sir or Ma’am. Their wives would be addressed in the same manner.

Great grandchildren would be referred to as “The Lord/Lady (Name)”. They would be addressed initially as “My Lord” or “My Lady”, and afterward as “Sir” or “Ma’am”. Interestingly, the wife of a great grandson would not be referred to by her own name, but as “The Lady (Name of her husband)”. So, the wife of Lord John Stewart, great grandson to the King, would be referred to as “The Lady John Stewart.”



A Duke (male) or Duchess (female) can either be a monarch ruling over a duchy or a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch. A duchy is the territory or geopolitical entity ruled by a duke. The term implies a territorial domain, within which the duke has actual subjects or significant land holdings, with respect to which the duke has or had unique legal privileges, e.g. sovereignty or manorial rights or entitlement to certain duties or income from residents (e.g. the corvée), etc. A dukedom is the title or status of a duke, a rank in the present or past nobility, and is not necessarily attached to a duchy. Sons of sovereigns are normally given a dukedom.

Forms of Address: A Duke or Duchess is referred to “His Grace, the Duke of (Wherever)” or “Her Grace, the Duchess of (Wherever)”.  The initial form of address would be “Your Grace” or “Duke” or “Duchess”. Afterward they can be addressed as “Sir” or “Ma’am”.



A Marquess or Marquis  is a nobleman of hereditary rank. The Marquess or Marchioness ranks below Duke or Duchess and above Earl.

In times past, the distinction between a Count and a marquess was that a marquess’s land, called a march, was on the border of the country, while a count’s land, called a county, often wasn’t. Because of this, a marquess was trusted to defend and fortify against potentially hostile neighbors and was thus more important and ranked higher than a count. The title is ranked below duke, which was mostly restricted to the royal family and those that were held in high enough esteem to be granted such a title.

The word “marquess” is unusual in English, ending in “-ess” but referring to a male and not a female. In continental Europe it is usually equivalent where a cognate title exists. A woman with the rank of a marquess, or the wife of a marquess, is a marchioness.

Forms of Address: A Marquess would be referred to as “The Most Honourable Marquess of (Wherever)”, or “The Most Honourable Marchioness of (Wherever)”.  You would address him as “My Lord”, “Your Lordship”, or “Lord (Wherever)”. You would address her as “My Lady”, “Your Ladyship”, or “Lady (Wherever)”. After initial adress you can call him “Sir” or her “Ma’am”.



An Earl is a member of the nobility ranking below Marquess and above Viscount. There never developed a feminine form of earlcountess is used as the equivalent feminine title.

Forms of Address: An Earl is referred to as “The Right Honourable Earl of (Wherever)”, and a Countess as “The Right Honourable Countess of (Wherever)”. Initially you would address an Earl as  “My Lord”, “Your Lordship”, or “Lord (Wherever)”. You would address a Countess as “My Lady”, “Your Ladyship”, or “Lady (Wherever)”. After initial address you can call him “Sir” or her “Ma’am”.



A Viscount ranks below an Earl but above a Baron. The word Viscount corresponds in the UK to the Anglo-Saxon shire reeve (root of the non-nobiliary, royal-appointed office of sheriff). Thus early viscounts were originally normally given their titles by the monarch, not hereditary; but soon they too tended to establish hereditary principalities.

Forms of Address: The title of a viscount may be either a place name, or a surname, or sometimes, a combination thereof. In any event, a Viscount is referred to as “The Viscount (Name)”, or “The Viscount (Name) of (Wherever)”. A Viscountess is referred to as “The Viscountess (Name)”, or “The Viscountess (Name) of (Wherever)”. Initially you would address a Viscount as  “My Lord”, “Your Lordship”, or “Lord (Wherever)”. You would address a Viscountess as “My Lady”, “Your Ladyship”, or “Lady (Wherever)”. After initial address you can call him “Sir” or her “Ma’am”.



Lord of Parliament was the lowest rank of nobility automatically entitled to attend sessions of the pre-UnionParliament of ScotlandScotland differs from the rest of the United Kingdom in that the lowest rank of its peerage is not the baron. In Scotland, the term “baron” refers to a feudal baron. Therefore, the Scottish equivalent to the English baron is the Lord of Parliament.

Forms of Address: A male holder of a Lordship is designated a “Lord of Parliament,” while there is no similar designation for female holders. Lords of Parliament are referred to as “Lord (Name)”, while female holders of Lordships of Parliament are known as “Lady (Name)”. The wife of a Lord of Parliament is also “Lady (Name)”. They are referred to as “The Right Honourable Lord (Name)” or “Lord (Name)”, or “The Right Honourable Lady (Name)” or “Lady (Name)”. They could also be referred to as “The Lord (Name)”, “The Lady (Name)”, or “The Baroness (Name)”. You would address a Lord of Parliament as “My Lord”, “Your Lordship”, or “Lord (Wherever)”. You would address a female Lord of Parliament as “My Lady”, “Your Ladyship”, “Baroness (Wherever)” if she is a Lord of Parliament in her own right, or “Lady (Wherever)”. After initial address you can call him “Sir” or her “Ma’am”.



A Feudal Baron is not entitled to wear a coronet. He or she may be entitled to wear a Cap of Maintenance.

A Scottish feudal barony used to be attached to a particular piece of land on which is a building, such as a castle or manor house.

Unlike England’s system of hereditary peerages – which are, in the main, passed down the male line – Scottish feudal baronies may be passed to any person, of either sex, by inheritance or conveyance.

Forms of Address: They would be referred to as the “Baron of (Wherever)”, or “Baroness of (Wherever)”. You would address a Baron as “Baron” or the name of the place he is Baron of, and more casually as Sir. You would address a Baroness as “Baroness”, “Madam”, or “Lady (Wherever)”.



Sir William WallaceA knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch or other political leader for service to the monarch or country, especially in a military capacity. Historically, in Europe, knighthood has been conferred upon mounted warriors. During the High Middle Ages, knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility. By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior. Since the Early Modern period, the title of knight is purely honorific, usually bestowed by a monarch, as in the British honours system, often for non-military service to the country.

Knighthood in the Middle Ages was closely linked with horsemanship (and especially the joust) from its origins in the 12th century until its final flowering as a fashion among the high nobility.

Knights of the medieval era were asked to “Protect the weak, defenseless, helpless, and fight for the general welfare of all.” They also had to protect women. These few guidelines were the main duties of a medieval knight, but they were very hard to accomplish fully. Knights trained in hunting, fighting, and riding, amongst other things. They were also trained to practise courteous, honorable behaviour, which was considered extremely important.

Forms of Address: Knights were often, but not always, members of an Order.  A woman could be a Lady of the order, and would have the title of Dame. A knight would be referred to as “Sir (Name)” and his wife would be referred to as “Lady (Name)”. They would be addressed as “Sir”, “My Lady”, or “Lady (Name)”. Some orders had female members, and they would be referred to as “Dame (Name)”. They would be addressed as “Madam” or “Dame (Name)”.



Originally in the 16th and 17th centuries the designation of laird was applied to the head chief of a highland clan. This would be true in our time frame.  In the Scottish clan system, the term chief denotes a greater chief than that of a chieftain. In consequence, branch chiefs (heads of branches of a clan) are designated chieftains. Historically the principal function of the chief was to lead his clan in battle on land and sea.The chief and the chieftain were at one time in the Scottish Highlands influential political characters, who wielded a large and often arbitrary authority.

Forms of Address: A chief can be referred to as “John (Name) of (Name)”, “John of (Wherever)”, associated place name alone, “John (Name) of that Ilk”, “The (Name)”, “The (Name) of (Name), or “The (Name) of (Wherever)”. He would be addressed by his associated place name, or his name alone. A female Chief would be referred to by replacing “Mrs.” with “Madam” in front of her name, or she may be referred to as the “Lady (Wherever)”. She would be addressed as Madam.

*Note: The Chief would not be addressed as lord or laird today, but I am unsure if he might have been addressed as “Laird” or “My Laird” in our time frame of intereset, or in the case of a woman, “Lady” or “My Lady”.