In the United Kingdom, a territorial designation follows modern peerage titles, linking them to a specific place or places. It is also an integral part of all baronetcies. Within Scotland, a territorial designation proclaims a relationship with a particular area of land.
Peerages and baronetcies
A territorial designation is an aspect of the creation of modern peerages that links them to a specific place or places, at least one of which is almost always in the United Kingdom. It is given in the patent of creation after the actual peerage title itself, of which it is not a part. It is also an integral part of all baronetcies.
For instance, the life peerages conferred on the former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and James Callaghan were created as Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven in the County of Lincolnshire and Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, of the City of Cardiff in the County of South Glamorgan. The part of the peerage before the comma is the actual title, and the part after the comma is the territorial designation. These peers should be referred to as The Baroness Thatcher and The Lord Callaghan of Cardiff: it is incorrect both to use part of the territorial designation as part of the title and to leave out part of the actual title; thus The Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven and The Lord Callaghan are incorrect, although the latter may be used informally.
Some territorial designations name more than one place, and the format used depends on whether such places are in the same county or other administrative division. For instance, the life peerages conferred on Margaret McDonagh and John Morris were created as Baroness McDonagh, of Mitcham and of Morden in the London Borough of Merton and Baron Morris of Aberavon, of Aberavon in the County of West Glamorgan and of Ceredigion in the County of Dyfed. Occasionally, a place outside the United Kingdom can be named: for instance, the life peerage conferred on Howard Florey was created as Baron Florey, of Adelaide in the Commonwealth of Australia and of Marston in the County of Oxford, or the life peerage conferred on Sue Ryder was created as Baroness Ryder of Warsaw, of Warsaw in Poland and of Cavendish in the County of Suffolk.
With the exception of Royal peerages, which are often created without them, territorial designations are used with the creation of almost all baronies and viscountcies. Higher ranks of the peerage often used to have them as well, but now rarely do. With the higher ranks, the format could be the same as with lower ranks or it could simply specify the location of the place named in the actual title. For example: Duke of Wellington, in the County of Somerset (1814) and Duke of Gordon, of Gordon Castle in Scotland (1876) but Duke of Fife (1899); Marquess of Cholmondeley, in the County Palatine of Chester (1815) and Marquess of Ailsa, of the Isle of Ailsa in the County of Ayr (1831) but Marquess of Zetland (1892); Earl of Craven, in the County of York (1801) and Earl Nelson, of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey (1805) but Earl of Stockton (1984).
In the 19th century, it was possible to create a different peerage title merely by altering the location of the comma. Thus the title Baron Stanley of Alderley, in the County of Chester differs in format from Baron Stanley, of Bickerstaffe in the County Palatine of Lancaster only by the placement of the comma: the former title is Baron Stanley of Alderley whilst the latter is Baron Stanley. This format is no longer used: if a peerage title in the format "Baron X of Y" is wanted, the full territorial designation must be used. Thus if the Barony of Stanley of Alderley were created today, it would have to be Baron Stanley of Alderley, of Alderley in the County of Chester. This dual usage of the same term in the title and in the territorial designation may appear peculiar, but it does occasionally occur; an example would be Adair Turner, who was created Baron Turner of Ecchinswell, of Ecchinswell in the County of Hampshire.
In the case of a victory title, at least one term usually refers to the site of the grantee's triumph, usually outside the UK. For example, the famous admiral Horatio Nelson was created Viscount Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, the Nile being the site of his victory against the French in the Battle of the Nile, and Burnham Thorpe being his place of birth.
Recognition of a Territorial Designation may also be granted in Scotland by the Lord Lyon to Scottish armigers who own (or were born in or were associated with) named land, generally outwith a town (i.e. rural). The Lord Lyon advises that for a territorial designation to be recognised, there must be 'ownership of a substantial area of land to which a well-attested name attaches, that is to say, ownership of an “estate”, or farm or, at the very least, a house with policies extending to five acres or thereby'. The Territorial Designation in this case is considered to be an indivisible part of the name, though not necessarily an indicator of ancestral or feudal nobility, though recognition of a territorial designation is usually accorded alongside the grant or matriculation of a Coat of Arms, which confers minor nobility status. A person bearing a Scottish territorial designation is either a Baron, Chief or Chieftain or a Laird, the latter denoting 'landowner', or is a descendant of one of the same. The Lord Lyon is the ultimate arbiter as to determining entitlement to a territorial designation, and his right of discretion in recognising these, and their status as a name, dignity or title, has been confirmed in the Scottish courts.
According to Debrett's and other references, a John Smith of Abercrombie is addressed as simply Abercrombie. If he is a clan chief, he may be addressed by either the place-name or the surname of his clan.
- Heywood, Valentine (1951). "The 'of' in Peerages". British Titles: The Use and Misuse of the Titles of Peers and Commoners, with Some Historical Notes. A and C Black.
- "Guidance regarding Baronial Additaments and Territorial Designations". Court of the Lord Lyon. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
- Adam, F. & Innes of Learney, T. (1952). The Clans, Septs, and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands (4th ed.). Edinburgh & London: W. & A.K. Johnston Limited. p. 401.
- "How to address a Chief, Chieftain or Laird". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 2010-08-01. Retrieved 2011-05-22.
- Adam, F. & Innes of Learney, T. (1952). The Clans, Septs, and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands (4th ed.). Edinburgh & London: W. & A.K. Johnston Limited. p. 401 ("Scottish law and nobiliary practice, like those of many other European realms, recognise a number of special titles, some of which relate to chiefship and chieftaincy of families and groups as such, others being in respect of territorial lairdship. These form part of the Law of Name which falls under the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, and are recognised by the Crown. [...] As regards these chiefly, clan, and territorial titles, by Scots law each proprietor of an estate is entitled to add the name of his property to his surname, and if he does this consistently, to treat the whole as a title or name, and under Statute 1673 cap. 47, to subscribe himself so").
- "OPINION OF THE COURT delivered by LORD MARNOCH". Court of Session. Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2011-07-29.
- "How to address a Chief, Chieftain or Laird". Archived from the original on 2016-05-28.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-25. Retrieved 2015-03-17.