Marquess and Marchioness

Marquess and Marchioness

The second most senior grade in the peerage, the official spelling of this title, marquess, is now standardised and this is adopted on the Roll of the House of Lords.  Some Scottish marquesses, in memory of the 'Auld Alliance' with France prefer the French spelling, marquis, as does Lord Headfort, who holds an Irish marquessate.

There are three marquessates which do not include the word "of" in the title: Camden, Conyngham and Townshend.

In conversation, a marquess is referred to as Lord ……… rather than the Marquess of …….

Ecclesiastical, ambassadorial and armed forces ranks precede a marquess's rank in correspondence. For example, Major-General the Marquess of …..'.

When a marquess is also a privy counsellor or has received a knighthood he may use the appropriate post-nominal letters.

The wife of a marquess is a marchioness and is known as Lady …….(use of the title marchioness in speech is socially incorrect unless it needs to be specifically mentioned, for example in a formal introduction).

In official documents and announcements the style of The Most Honourable ….. should still be used for both a marquess and marchioness.

How to address a Marquess and Marchioness

The recommended (social) style of address is as follows:

Beginning of letter Dear Lord/Lady Aberdeen
End of letter Yours sincerely
Envelope The Marquess/Marchioness of Aberdeen
Verbal communication Lord /Lady Aberdeen
Invitation* & joint form of address Lord and Lady Aberdeen
Description in conversation Lord/Lady Aberdeen
List of Directors or Patrons The Marquess/Marchioness of Aberdeen
Place card The Marquess/Marchioness of Aberdeen
Legal document The Most Honourable Alexander Marquess of Aberdeen, The Most Honourable Joanna Marchioness of Aberdeen

*Note that, traditionally, invitations to a married couple, when sent to their home address, are addressed to the wife alone, with both names being inscribed on the invitation card. It has become increasingly acceptable, however, to address the envelope with both names.

Marquess by Courtesy
Although the bearer of the title marquess by courtesy enjoys none of the privileges of a peer, he is addressed as such with the following exceptions:
- a marquess by courtesy is never accorded the formal style of 'The Most Honourable'
- a marquess by courtesy is not addressed as 'The' in correspondence. This is restricted to actual peers.

Normally a peer by courtesy is called "Lord ……", but if there is a special reason for a marquess by courtesy to be referred to by his precise courtesy title, he is called verbally 'the Marquess of Blandford' this being the usual colloquial form of reference.  The definite article is never given to courtesy viscounts or barons.

The wife of a marquess by courtesy takes the title of marchioness but, like her husband, there are some distinctions in how she should be addressed:

- she is never accorded the formal style of 'The Most Honourable'
- she  is not given the prefix "The" in correspondence.

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