Viscount and Viscountess

Viscount and Viscountess

This the fourth grade in the peerage.  A viscount is, in conversation, referred to as Lord (Tilney) rather than the Viscount Tilney.

There are two viscountcies where an 'of' is used in the title: the Viscount of Arbuthnott, and the Viscount of Oxfuird.

Ecclesiastical, ambassadorial and armed forces ranks precede a viscount's rank in correspondence. For example, Major-General the Viscount .........

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

The wife of a viscount is a viscountess and is known as Lady (Tilney). Use of the title viscountess in speech is socially incorrect unless it needs to be specifically mentioned, for example in a list of patrons.

How to address a Viscount and Viscountess

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

Beginning of letter Dear Lord/Lady Tilney
End of letter Yours sincerely
Envelope Viscount/Viscountess Tilney
Verbal communication Lord/Lady Tilney
Invitation* & joint form of address Lord and Lady Tilney
Description in conversation Lord/Lady Tilney
List of Directors or Patrons The Viscount/Viscountess Tilney
Place card The Viscount/Viscountess Tilney
Legal document The Right Honourable Frederic Viscount Tilney, The Right Honourable Charlotte Viscountess Tilney

*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.

Viscount by Courtesy
Although the bearer of the title viscount by courtesy enjoys none of the privileges of a peer, he is addressed as such with the following exceptions:
- a viscount by courtesy is never accorded the formal style of 'The Right Hon' unless he also happens to be a privy counsellor
- a viscount by courtesy is not addressed as 'The' in correspondence. This is restricted to actual peers.

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

- she is never accorded the formal style of 'The Right Hon'
- she  is not given the prefix 'The' in correspondence


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