Canadian peers and baronets

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Flag of New France from 1663 to 1763
Flag of Canada from 1868 to 1921

Cardinal Richelieu introduced the Seignuerial System to New France in 1627. Almost all of the early French Canadians who came as officers in the military, or to fill important official positions within the colony, came from the ranks of the French nobility. Under the Ancien Régime, several of these men who had settled in Canada were either elevated or promoted to more senior ranks within the Peerage of France. From the early 1700s, it became customary for the Governors of New France to be given the title 'marquis'. Except for the Marquis de Vaudreuil and the Marquis de Beauharnois, most were in Canada only for a few years before returning to France and are therefore not counted as Canadians.

The Baronetage of Nova Scotia (a British hereditary title, but not a peerage) had been devised by King James I of England in 1624 as a means of settling Nova Scotia. Except for Sir Thomas Temple, almost none of them came to Nova Scotia, therefore they are counted as British, not Canadian.

Following the British Conquest of New France in 1763, the likes of Lord Amherst and Lord Dorchester were raised to the Peerage of Great Britain for their part in the taking of Canada and as Governors General of Canada, but they were not Canadians. As the colony grew under British rule both in terms of geography and economy, baronetcies began to be conferred upon various Canadian politicians, military commanders and businessmen. In 1891, Lord Mount Stephen became the first Canadian to be elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

After the controversial elevation of Lords Atholstan and Beaverbrook to the Peerage of the United Kingdom, the Nickle Resolution was presented to the Canadian House of Commons in 1917 requesting the Sovereign not to grant knighthoods, baronetcies or peerages to Canadians. This triggered the Canadian titles debate and led to a separate system of orders, decorations, and medals for Canada. Canadians who were granted peerages after this date had already to hold or acquire British Citizenship, such as Lord Thomson of Fleet. However, the then Canadian Citizenship Act stated that Canadians who acquired foreign citizenship by any means other than marriage would renounce their Canadian citizenship.

Canadian nobility in the aristocracy of France[edit]


Arms of the Barons de Longueuil, holders of the only current French colonial title recognized by Queen Elizabeth II


The Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal was the first Canadian-born Governor General of New France. He was a first cousin of the father of the Marquis de Lotbinière
The Marquis de Lotbinière was the first native Canadian to be elevated to a Marquisate in the Peerage of France. He was the uncle of the Vicomte de Léry; a first cousin of the Marquis de Fresnoy; and his father was a first cousin of the Marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal
The Vicomte de Léry was the Canadian Engineer-in-Chief of Napoleon's Armies. He married a daughter of the Duc de Valmy and was a nephew of the Marquis de Lotbinière
  • Comte de Saint-Laurent. Created in 1676, for Michel-François Berthelot, King's Secretary in Paris and Commissary General of the French Artillery. In 1702, he sold the Île d'Orléans to Charlotte-Françoise Juchereau de Saint-Denys (1660-1732), sister of Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denys. Another of their brothers was the grandfather of Louis Barbe Juchereau de Saint-Denys (1740-1833), created the Marquis de Saint-Denys in 1774; a first cousin of The Hon. Antoine Juchereau Duchesnay who was also a first cousin of the Marquis de Lotbinière mentioned below.[4] From 1702, Charlotte-Françoise took the title Comtesse de Saint-Laurent and arranged for her eldest son to also bear the title, but she was unable to meet her obligations to Berthelot. A lengthy court case ensued between Quebec and Paris, and in 1713 the King ruled in Berthelot's favour.[5] The title remained in the Berthelot family until 1931.
  • Baron de Portneuf. Created in 1681, for René Robineau de Bécancourt. His son, Pierre Robineau de Portneuf, sold the land to his brother but retained the title. The brother died in 1715 and the barony passed back to Pierre's daughters. The title became extinct in 1729 after the death of the 2nd Baron de Portneuf, due to a lack of male heirs.

Canadian nobility in the aristocracy of the United Kingdom[edit]

Peerages awarded before The Nickle Resolution[edit]

Lord Strathcona, referred to as "Uncle Donald" by King Edward VII in reference to his philanthropy. He was a first cousin of Lord Mount Stephen.
Lord Mount Stephen, the financial genius behind the creation of the Canadian Pacific Railway and a first cousin of Lord Strathcona. In 1891, he became the first Canadian to be elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom.
Agnes Macdonald, 1st Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe, was the only Canadian lady to be granted a peerage, in lieu of her deceased husband, Sir John A. Macdonald, the 1st Prime Minister of Canada after Confederation in 1867.
Lord Atholstan was the only Canadian Peer of the United Kingdom to have been born and lived his whole life in Canada, but his was also the most controversial of all the Canadian Peerages.



Peerages awarded after The Nickle Resolution[edit]



Life peerages[edit]

A life peerage is not an hereditary title. The title lasts as long as the recipient of the honour is alive. The recipient's children can style themselves with the prefix 'honourable' but they cannot inherit the baronial title.



Canadian baronetcies[edit]

Chief Justice Sir John Beverley Robinson, a native of Quebec, dominated the politics of Upper Canada and was the undisputed leader of the Family Compact.
General Sir William Fenwick Williams was a native of Nova Scotia who won his fame during the Crimean War and later served as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.
Dundurn Castle was the home built in his native Ontario by Sir Allan Napier MacNab, Premier of Canada before Confederation.
Sir William Osler was a native Canadian dubbed "the father of modern medicine". He is arguably Canada's most famous physician
Sir Vincent Meredith, a member of a notable Canadian family, was the first Canadian-born President of the Bank of Montreal, then Canada's national bank.

Although a baronet is not a peer, it is a British hereditary title and an honour that was conferred upon several Canadians.




  • Coffin of the Magdalen Islands. Created in 1804, for Loyalist Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin. His long association with his estates in Canada, with family in Quebec and his business there, meant "he had crossed the Atlantic, on service or pleasure, no less than thirty times."[22] He left no male heirs and as such the title became extinct on his death at Cheltenham in 1839.
  • Edgar of Chalfont Park. Created in 1920, for Sir Edward Mackay Edgar, a native of Montreal who settled in England and became Chairman of British Controlled Oilfields. His only son and heir was killed in a car accident in 1925, and as such the title became extinct on his death in 1934.

Canadians with hereditary titles[edit]

  • John Walter Swinton, 35th of that Ilk. Although neither a peer nor a baronet, his title is Chief of Clan Swinton. His grandfather emigrated to Edmonton, Alberta, and he lives in Calgary, Alberta. He died on 19 August 2007 in Calgary and was succeeded as 36th Swinton of that Ilk by his son Rolfe William Swinton.
  • Konstantin Karl Ludwig Willibald Georg, Graf von Waldburg zu Zeil und Trauchburg reides at Sutton, Quebec. His title is from the German nobility and considered equal in rank to the British title of Earl.
  • Count Franz Antal Zichy lives in Toronto and parents lived in Calgary. His title, inherited from his father, is from the Hungarian nobility, where he was born.

Canadian peers by marriage[edit]

  • Sylvana Tomaselli, became Countess of St. Andrews on her marriage in 1988 to George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews. Her husband uses the courtesy title Earl of St. Andrews, a subsidiary title of his father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, a grandson of George V.[29] Upon the death of the Duke of Kent, it is expected that George will succeed to the title and Sylvana will become Duchess of Kent, Countess of St. Andrews, and Baroness Downpatrick.[29] At that time her eldest son, Edward, also a citizen of Canada and the present Lord Downpatrick, and his wife, if any, will then use the titles Earl and Countess of St. Andrews as a courtesy title and their eldest son, if any, would be known as Lord Downpatrick.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rachel Grant biography at:
  2. ^ Cokayne, George Edward (1982). The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant VIII. Gloucester: A. Sutton. pp. 126–7.  originally published by the St Catherine Press Ltd, London, England from 1910–1959 in 13 volumes; reprinted in microprint, 13 volumes into 6
  3. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  4. ^ Famille de Juchereau de Sany-Denys, Juchereau du Chesnay/Duchesnay
  5. ^ Dictionary of Canadian Biography - Comtesse de Saint-Laurent
  6. ^ Biography of the Marquis de Vaudreuil in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  7. ^ a b Famille de Vaudreuil
  8. ^ Les Seigneuries de Vaudreuil et de Soulanges
  9. ^ Biography of the Marquis de Lotbinière in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography
  10. ^ a b Notables of Annet-sur-Marne
  11. ^ Napoleon's Generals
  12. ^ a b The Order of Canada: Its Origins, History, And Development By Christopher McCreery
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26192. p. 4378. 14 August 1891.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30120. p. 5639. 8 June 1917.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35225. p. 4213. 22 July 1941.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 56379. p. 12995. 5 November 2001.
  17. ^ Robertson, Dylan C. (May 21, 2012). "Conrad Black mulls over applying for citizenship". Toronto Star. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  18. ^ Frum, David (July 24, 2012). "David Frum: Lord Conrad Black ... of Canada". National Post. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  19. ^ Conrad Black released from prison - Daily Telegraph, May 4, 2012
  20. ^ House of Lords
  21. ^ Cacrofts Peerage
  22. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine 167. p. 206. 
  23. ^ Sir George-Étienne Cartier, 1st Baronet
  24. ^ Tuteur, Amy (2008-11-19). "Listen to your patient". The Skeptical OB. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  25. ^ Starling, P H (March 2003). "The case of Edward Revere Osler" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 149 (1): 27–29. doi:10.1136/jramc-149-01-05. PMID 12743923. 
  26. ^ Canadian Encyclopedia entry for Sir Gilbert Parker
  27. ^ Points of Interest Along Lost Streams: Toronto Pork Packing Plant. The Toronto Green Community and the Toronto Field Naturalists. Retrieved 2007-12-03.
  28. ^ From Sussex schoolboy to Scottish lord
  29. ^ a b Bartlett, Steve (8 January 2011), "From Placentia to the Palace", The Telegram, retrieved 9 January 2011