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A baronet (traditional abbreviation Bart, modern abbreviation Bt) or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess (abbreviation Btss), is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown. The practice of awarding baronetcies was originally introduced in England and Ireland by James I of England in 1611 in order to raise funds, and is now practically obsolete as hereditary honours are generally no longer recommended.

A baronetcy is the only hereditary honour which is not a peerage; baronets are commoners. A baronet is styled "Sir" like a knight, but ranks above all knighthoods except for the Order of the Garter and, in Scotland, the Order of the Thistle. A baronetcy is not a knighthood and the recipient does not receive an accolade.


History of the term

The term baronet is of medieval origin. Sir Thomas de la More, describing the Battle of Battenberg (1321), mentioned that baronets took part, along with barons and knights. Edward III is known to have created eight baronets in 1328: St Leger, Baronet of Sledmarge; Den, Baronet of Pormanston; Fitzgerald, Baronet of Burnchurch; Welleslye, Baronet of Narraghe; Husee, Baronet of Gattrim; St Michell, Baronet of Reban; Marwarde, Baronet of Scryne; and Nangle, Baronet of the Navan. Further creations were made in 1340, 1446 and 1551. At least one of these, Sir William de la Pole in 1340, was created for payment of money, presumably needed by the king to help maintain his army. It is not known if these early creations were hereditary, but all seem to have died out.

According to The Official Roll of the Baronetage:

"the Baronetage is of far more ancient origin than many people may think. The term baronet is believed to have been first applied to nobility who for one reason or another had lost the right of summons to Parliament. The earliest mention of baronets was in the Battle of Barrenberg in 1321. There is a further mention of them in 1328 when Edward III is known to have created eight baronets. Further creations were made in 1340, 1446 and 1551. At least one of these, Sir William de la Pole in 1340, was created for payment of money, presumably expended by the King to help maintain his army. It is not known if these early creations were hereditary but all seem to have died out.
"The present hereditary Order of Baronets in England dates from 22 May 1611 when it was erected by James I who granted the first Letters Patent to 200 gentlemen of good birth with an income of at least £1000 a year. His intention was two fold. Firstly he wanted to fill the gap between peers of the realm and knights so he decided that the baronets were to form the sixth division of the aristocracy following the five degrees of the peerage. Secondly, and probably more importantly, he needed money to pay for soldiers to carry out the pacification of Ireland. Therefore those of the first creation, in return for the honour, were each required to pay for the upkeep of thirty soldiers for three years amounting to £1095, in those days a very large sum.
"In 1619 James I erected the Baronetage of Ireland and laid plans for a further new Baronetage with the object of assisting the colonisation of Nova Scotia. However in 1624 he died before this could be implemented. In 1625 Charles I took up the previous plans and erected the Baronetage of Scotland and Nova Scotia. The new baronets were each required to pay 2000 marks or to support six settlers for two years. Over a hundred of these baronetcies, now known as Scottish baronetcies, have survived to this day. The Duke of Roxburghe is the Premier Baronet of Scotland by his Baronetcy of Innes-Ker of Innes created in 1625.
"As a result of the union of England and Scotland in 1707 all future creations were styled Baronets of Great Britain. With the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801 new creations were styled as Baronets of the United Kingdom. The position at 31 December 1999, including baronetcies where succession was dormant or unproven, was that there were a total of 1314 baronetcies divided into five classes of creation included on the Official Roll. Of these there were 146 of England, 63 of Ireland, 119 of Scotland, 133 of Great Britain and 853 of the United Kingdom. The Premier Baronet is Sir Nicholas Bacon, 14th Baronet of Redgrave created in 1611.
"Under the two Royal Warrants of 1612 and 1613 issued by James I certain privileges were accorded to baronets of England. Firstly, no person or persons should have place between baronets and the younger sons of peers. Secondly, the right of knighthood was established for the eldest sons of baronets, this was to be revoked by George IV in 1827, and thirdly baronets were allowed to add the Arms of Ulster as an inescutcheon to their armorial bearings. This last consisted of "in a field Argent, a hand Geules, or a bloudy hand". These privileges were extended to baronets of Ireland and, less the Arms of Ulster, to baronets of Scotland. They continue to this day for all baronets of Great Britain and the United Kingdom created subsequently."

The term baronet was applied to the noblemen who lost the right of individual summons to Parliament, and was used in this sense in a statute of Richard II. A similar rank of lower stature is the banneret.

The revival of baronetcies can be dated to Sir Robert Cotton's discovery in the late 16th or early 17th century of William de la Pole's[disambiguation needed ] patent (issued in the 13th year of Edward III's reign), conferring upon him the dignity of a baronet in return for a sum of money.

Subsequent baronetcies fall into the following five creations:

  1. King James I erected the hereditary Order of Baronets in England on 22 May 1611 for the settlement of Ireland. He offered the dignity to 200 gentlemen of good birth, with a clear estate of £1,000 a year, on condition that each one paid a sum equivalent to three years' pay for 30 soldiers at 8d per day per man into the King's Exchequer. The idea came from the Earl of Salisbury, who averred: "The Honour will do the Gentry very little Harm," while doing the Exchequer a lot of good.
  2. The Baronetage of Ireland was erected on 30 September 1611.
  3. King Charles I erected the hereditary Baronetage of Scotland or Nova Scotia on 28 May 1625, for the establishment of the plantation of Nova Scotia.
  4. After the union of England and Scotland in 1707, no further Baronets of England or Scotland were created, the style being changed to Baronet of Great Britain.
  5. After the union of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 January 1801 to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, all baronetcies created were under the style of the United Kingdom.
Baronet of the United Kingdom Badge
Baronet's Badge ribbon

Since 1965 only one new baronetcy has been created, that for the husband of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (now Baroness Thatcher), Sir Denis Thatcher. Their eldest son, Sir Mark Thatcher became the 2nd Baronet, upon the death of his father in 2003.


Like knights, baronets use the style "Sir" before their Christian name. Baronetesses in their own right use "Dame", while wives of baronets use "Lady", followed by the husband's surname, by longstanding courtesy. However, unlike knighthoods - which apply to an individual only - a baronetcy is hereditary. The eldest son of a baronet who is born in wedlock succeeds to the baronetcy upon the death of his father, but he will not be officially recognised until his name is on the Roll. With a few exceptions granted at creation by special remainder in the Letters Patent, baronetcies can be inherited only by or through males. Wives of baronets are not baronetesses; only females holding baronetcies in their own right are baronetesses.

A full list of extant baronets appears in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, which also covers some extinct baronetcies.

A baronetcy is not a peerage, so baronets, like knights, are commoners as opposed to noblemen. According to the Home Office there is a tangible benefit to the honour. According to law, a baronet is entitled to have "a pall supported by two men, a principal mourner and four others" assisting at his funeral. Originally baronets also had other rights, including the right to have the eldest son knighted on his 21st birthday. However, beginning in the reign of George IV, these rights have been gradually revoked by Order in Privy Council on the grounds that sovereigns should not be bound by acts made by their predecessors.

Baronets of Scotland or Nova Scotia were granted the Arms of Nova Scotia in their armorial bearings and the right to wear about the neck the badge of Nova Scotia, suspended by an orange-tawny ribbon. This consists of an escutcheon argent with a saltire azure thereon, an inescutcheon of the arms of Scotland, with an Imperial Crown above the escutcheon, and encircled with the motto Fax mentis Honestae Gloria. This Badge may be shown suspended by the ribbon below the shield of arms.

Baronets of England and Ireland applied to King Charles I for permission to wear a badge. Although a badge was worn in the 17th century, it was not until 1929 that King George V granted permission for all baronets (other than those of Scotland) to wear a badge.

The left hand

Baronets were granted the Arms of Ulster as a canton or inescutcheon in armorial bearings, argent a sinister hand couped at the wrist and erect gules, known as the Badge of Ulster (although the Ulster hand is dexter).[1]

Somewhere along the line a mistake has been made, as the Red Hand of Ulster is definitely a dexter or right one. The Baronets' Badge was created by Royal Warrant of George V, dated 13 April 1929. The relevant part of the text is as follows: "A shield of the Arms of Ulster on a silver field, viz. on a silver field a left hand Gules surmounted by an Imperial Crown enamelled in its proper colours the whole enclosed by an oval border embossed with gilt scrollwork having a design of roses, of shamrocks and of roses and thistles combined for those Baronets who were created Baronets of England, of Ireland and of Great Britain respectively and for all other Baronets other than Baronets of Scotland a design of roses, thistles and shamrocks combined such Badge to be suspended from an orange riband with a narrow edge of dark blue on both sides the total breadth of the riband to be one inch and three quarters and the breadth of each edge to be one quarter of an inch."[2]

The Badge may be shown suspended by its riband below the shield of arms.

Addressing a baronet

A baronet is referred to and addressed as, for example, "Sir <Joseph>" (using his forename). The correct style on an envelope for a baronet who has no other titles is "Sir <Joseph Bloggs>, Bt." or "Sir <Joseph Bloggs>, Bart." The letter would commence: "Dear Sir <Joseph>".

The wife of a baronet is addressed and referred to as "Lady <Bloggs>"; at the head of a letter as "Dear Lady <Bloggs>". Her given name is used only when necessary to distinguish between two holders of the same title. For example, if a baronet has died and the title has passed to his son, the widow (the new baronet's mother) will remain "Lady <Bloggs>" if he is unmarried, but if he is married his wife becomes "Lady <Bloggs>" while his mother will be known by the style "<Alice>, Lady <Bloggs>". Alternatively, the mother may prefer to be known as "The Dowager Lady <Bloggs>". A previous wife will also become "<Alice>, Lady Bloggs" to distinguish her from the current wife of the incumbent baronet. She would not be "Lady <Alice> <Bloggs>", a style which is reserved for the daughters of peers.


There have been only four baronetesses:

In 1976 Lord Lyon said that, without examining the Patent of every Scottish Baronetcy, he was not in a position to confirm that only these four can pass through the female line.

Leigh Rayment's online baronetage page lists a fifth baronetess, (Dame) Emilia Stuart Belshes, third holder of the Wishart baronetcy of Clifton Hall of Edinburgh. The page calls her heir general and says she "was apparently allowed to succeed", later saying "Assuming she did succeed, [...]".[5]

Addressing a baronetess

For baronetess, one should write "Dame <Daisy Dunbar>, Btss" on the envelope. At the head of the letter, one would write "Dear Dame <Daisy>," and to refer to her, you would say "Dame <Daisy>" or "Dame <Daisy Dunbar>" (never "Dame <Dunbar>").

Territorial designations

All Baronetcies are distinguished by having a territorial designation. So, for example, there are Baronetcies Moore of Colchester, Moore of Hancox, Moore of Kyleburn and Moore of Moore Lodge.

The number of baronetcies

The first publication listing all baronetcies ever created was C.J. Parry's Index of Baronetcy Creations (1967). This listed them in alphabetical order, other than the last five creations (Dodd of West Chillington, Redmayne of Rushcliffe, Pearson of Gressingham, Finlay of Epping and Thatcher of Scotney). It showed the total number created from 1611 to 1964 to have been 3482. They include five of Oliver Cromwell, several of which were recreated by Charles II. Twenty-five were created between 1688 and 1784 by James II in exile after his dethronement, by his son James Stuart ("The Old Pretender") and his grandson Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonny Prince Charlie"). These Jacobite baronetcies were never accepted by the English Crown, have all disappeared and should properly be excluded from the 3,482, making the effective number of creations 3,457. A close examination of Parry's publication shows he missed one or two,[6] so there have evidently been some more.

The total number of baronetcies today is approximately 1,380, although only some 1,300 are on the Official Roll.[6] It is unknown whether some baronetcies remain extant and it may be that nobody can prove himself to be the heir incumbent. Over 200 baronetcies are now held by peers and others, such as the Knox line, have been made tenuous due to internal family dispute.

Some Notable baronets

Baronetcies with special remainders

  • James II made Cornelis Speelman a baronet in 1686. He was a Dutch general. By a special clause his mother was given the rank of widow of a Baronet of England. His descendant, Sir Cornelis, became the 8th Baronet.
  • When Sir George Stonhouse, 1st Baronet was made a Baronet, the remainder specifically excluded his eldest son.
  • When Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy was made a baronet in 1857, it was realised that the Parsi custom was for a change of names for each generation. An Act was passed providing that all the male heirs should take these names and no other. Similar provision was made for subsequent Parsi baronets.

Baronets who do not use their style

Premier Baronet


The Premier Baronet (of England) is the unofficial title afforded to the current holder of the oldest extant baronetcy in the realm. The Premier Baronet is regarded as the senior member of the Baronetage, and comes above other baronets (unless they hold a title of peerage) in the United Kingdom Order of Precedence.

The current holder of the title is Sir Nicholas Bacon, 14th Baronet, whose title was created by King James I in 1611.


The Premier Baronets of Nova Scotia (Scotland) were the Gordon Baronets of Gordonstoun and Letterfourie until the extinction of that title in 1908.[7] Following then, the Premier Scottish Baronets were the Innes Baronets of that Ilk (cr. 28th May 1625).[8]

The current holder of the title is Guy Innes-Ker, 10th Duke of Roxburghe.


The Premier Baronetcy of Ireland was created for Sir Dominic Sarsfield in 1619, and was held by his successors until the attainder of the 4th Viscount Sarsfield in 1691.[9] Since then the descendants of Sir Francis Annesley Bt., the Annesley Baronets have been the Premier Baronets of Ireland.[10]

The current holder of the title is Francis William Dighton Annesley, 16th Viscount Valentia.

Baronetcies conferred upon non-Britons


  • Sir Samuel Way, 1st Baronet, of Montefiore, in South Australia (1899), extinct 1916
  • Sir William Clarke, 1st Baronet, of Rupertswood, in the Colony of Victoria (1882), extant
  • Sir Daniel Cooper, 1st Baronet, of Woollahra, in New South Wales (1863), extant
  • Sir Charles Nicholson, 1st Baronet, of Luddenham, in New South Wales (1859), extinct 1986

The Bahamas


  • Sir John Alleyne, 1st Baronet, of Four Hills, in Barbados (1769), extant


See also Category:Canadian Baronets
  • Sir James Stuart, 1st Baronet, of Oxford, in the County of Oxford (1841), extinct 1915
  • Sir Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine, 1st Baronet, of the City of Montreal, in the County of Montreal (1854), extinct 1867
  • Sir John Beverley Robinson, 1st Baronet, of Toronto, in the Province of Canada (1854), extant
  • Sir Allan Napier MacNab, 1st Baronet, of Dundurn Castle, in the Dominion of Canada (1858), extinct 1862
  • Sir George-Étienne Cartier, 1st Baronet, of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada (1868), extinct 1873
  • Sir John Rose, 1st Baronet, of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada (1872), extant
  • Sir George Stephen, 1st Baronet, of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada (1886) - also created Baron Mount Stephen (1891), extinct 1921
  • Sir Charles Tupper, 1st Baronet, of Armdale, in Halifax in Nova Scotia (1888), extant
  • Sir Edward Seaborne Clouston, 1st Baronet, of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada (1908), extinct 1912
  • Sir Henry Vincent Meredith, 1st Baronet, of Montreal, in the Dominion of Canada (1916), extinct 1929
  • Sir Joseph Wesley Flavelle, 1st Baronet, of Toronto, in the Dominion of Canada (1917), extinct 1985

The practice ended as a result of the Nickle Resolution.



The Netherlands

  • Sir William de Boreel, 1st Baronet, of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands (1645) - the 8th Baronet also became Jonkheer in the Dutch nobility, extant
  • Sir Joseph van Colster, 1st Baronet, of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands (1645), extinct 1665
  • Sir Walter (?) de Raedt, 1st Baronet, of the Hague (1660), dormant - surname may have changed to "Rhett"
  • Sir Cornelis Tromp, 1st Baronet, of Holland (1675) - also created Ridder in the Dutch nobility, extinct 1691
  • Sir Richard Tulp, 1st Baronet, of Amsterdam, in Holland (1675), extinct or dormant 1690
  • Sir Gelebrand Sas van Bosch, 1st Baronet, of Holland (1680), extinct 1720
  • Sir Cornelis Speelman, 1st Baronet, of the Netherlands (1686) - the 3rd Baronet also became Jonkheer in the Dutch nobility, extant
  • Sir John Peter Vanderbrande, 1st Baronet of Cleverskirke (1699), extinct after 1713

New Zealand

South Africa

  • Sir Andries Stockenstrom, 1st Baronet, of Cape of Good Hope (1840), extinct 1957
  • Sir Julius Wernher, 1st Baronet, of Luton Hoo Park, in the Parish of Luton and County of Bedford (1905), extinct 1973
  • Sir Joseph Robinson, 1st Baronet, of Hawthornden, in the Cape Province, and Dudley House, in Westminster (1908), extanct
  • Sir David Graaff, 1st Baronet, of Cape Town, in the Cape of Good Hope Province, of the Union of South Africa (1911), extant
  • Sir George Farrar, 1st Baronet, of Chicheley Hall, in Buckinghamshire (1911), extinct 1915
  • Sir Leander Starr Jameson, 1st Baronet, of Down Street, in London (1911), extinct 1917
  • Sir George Albu, 1st Baronet, of Johannesburg (1912), extant
  • Sir Lionel Phillips, 1st Baronet, of Tylney Hall (1912), extant
  • Sir Sothern Holland, 1st Baronet, of Westwell Manor, in the County of Oxford (1917), extinct 1997
  • Sir Abe Bailey, 1st Baronet, of South Africa (1919), extant
  • Sir Bernard Oppenheimer, 1st Baronet, of Stoke Poges, in the County of Buckingham (1921), extant
  • Sir Otto Beit, 1st Baronet, of Tewin Water (1924), dormant or extinct 1994
  • Sir Lewis Richardson, 1st Baronet, of Yellow Woods, in the Cape of Good Hope Province, in South Africa (1924), extant


  • Sir John Frederick van Freisendorf, 1st Baronet, of Hirdech (1661) - also created Friherre in the Swedish nobility, status unknown
  • Sir Erik Ohlson, 1st Baronet, of Scarborough, in the North Riding of the County of York (1920), extant

In fiction

Ghosts: also in Gilbert & Sullivan's Ruddigore
  • Sir Conrad Murgatroyd The Twelfth Baronet
  • Sir Desmond Murgatroyd The Sixteenth Baronet
  • Sir Gilbert Murgatroyd The Eighteenth Baronet
  • Sir Jasper Murgatroyd The Third Baronet
  • Sir Lionel Murgatroyd The Sixth Baronet
  • Sir Mervyn Murgatroyd The Twentieth Baronet
  • Sir Roderic Murgatroyd The Twenty-first Baronet
  • Sir Rupert Murgatroyd The First Baronet[11]

See also


  1. ^ York Herald, 30 November 2006
  2. ^ York Herald and Garter King at Arms 30 November 2006
  3. ^ Leigh Rayment's baronetage: Draper to Dymoke
  4. ^ (See page B 599 of the Baronetage section of the latest edition of Debrett.)
  5. ^ Leigh Rayment's baronetage: Wilson-Todd to Wyvill
  6. ^ a b Sir Martin Lindsay of Dowhill, Bt (1979). The Baronetage, 2nd edition. 
  7. ^ Cokayne, vol ii, pp277-280
  8. ^ Cokayne, vol ii, p 280
  9. ^ Cokayne, vol i, pp223-224
  10. ^ Cokayne, vol ii, p 224
  11. ^ While eight ghosts are named in the Dramatis Personæ, only Sir Roderic actually is given a specific part in the libretto. In the final version of the libretto, there are eight brief lines of dialogue assigned to "1st Ghost" through "4th Ghost," with each numbered ghost speaking twice. A Bishop is given a small amount of additional business in the stage directions. According to the Oxford University Press edition (David Russell Hulme, ed., 2000), Sir Rupert was assigned two of the short lines of dialogue; all of the other named chorus ghosts (Sir Jasper through Sir Mervyn) were assigned one line apiece.
  • Sir Martin Lindsay of Dowhill, Bt (1979). The Baronetage, 2nd edition. (published by the author). 
  • Debrett's website

External links

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  • Baronet — (Verkleinerungsform zu Baron) ist ein erblicher Titel innerhalb des britischen Adels. Die Baronets gehören nicht zur Peerage, sondern bilden zusammen mit den Knights die sogenannte Gentry. Die Anrede für einen Baronet lautet Sir, für seine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Baronet — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Un baronet (tradicionalmente abreviado como Bart, aunque también se usa la forma Bt) o su equivalente femenino, baronetesa (abreviado, Btss), es el poseedor de una dignidad de Baronet, un título hereditario concedido …   Wikipedia Español

  • baronet — BARONÉT, baroneţi, s.m. Titlu de nobleţe dat în Anglia membrilor unui ordin de cavaleri şi care se moşteneşte pe linie bărbătească; persoană care are acest titlu. – Din fr. baronnet. Trimis de paula, 05.04.2002. Sursa: DEX 98  baronét s. m., pl …   Dicționar Român

  • Baronet — (Bäronet), erblicher engl. Briefadel, ohne politische Vorrechte, gibt dem Inhaber nur eine höhere gesellschaftliche Geltung, ist für 10000 Pfd. Sterl. käuflich, wird aber auch von der Krone unentgeldlich verliehen. Dieser Adel wurde von Jakob I.… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • baronet — [bar′ənət, berənət] n. [ME, dim. of BARON] 1. a man holding the lowest hereditary British title, below a baron but above a knight: a baronet is addressed as “Sir,” and may add “Bart.” to his name, as Sir John Doe, Bart. 2. this title …   English World dictionary

  • Baronet — Bar on*et, n. [Baron + et.] A dignity or degree of honor next below a baron and above a knight, having precedency of all orders of knights except those of the Garter. It is the lowest degree of honor that is hereditary. The baronets are commoners …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Baronet — (abgekürzt Bart.), in England eine zwischen der Nobility u. Gentry innestehende Klasse des Adels (s.d. VI. K), entstanden 1612 unter Jakob I., der allen, welche sich verpflichteten, 3 Jahre lang 30 Mann zur Colonisation in Irland auf ihre Kosten… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Baronet — (engl., abgekürzt Bar., Bart., Bt.), erbliche Ritterklasse, gestiftet 1611 von Jakob I. für jeden, der zur Behauptung Irlands und besonders der Provinz Ulster 30 Mann zu Fuß auf seine Kosten stellen oder die Summe von 1000 Pfd. Sterl. zu… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Baronet — (spr. bärrŏnett), engl. erblicher Adelstitel, gehört zum niedern Adel (Gentry) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • baronet — ● baronet ou baronnet nom masculin (de baron) Titre britannique, intermédiaire entre celui de baron et celui de chevalier …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • baronet — (n.) c.1400, dim. of BARON (Cf. baron) (q.v.); originally a younger or lesser baron; as a titled hereditary order, established 1611 …   Etymology dictionary

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