Widow of a Viscount

The widow of an viscount is officially known as The Dowager Viscountess  …….(unless there is already a dowager viscountess in that family still living in which case the  widow of the junior countess is known by her forename eg Elizabeth, Viscountess  …………) .

In practice, many widows prefer to use their forename in place of 'Dowager'.  If in doubt, use of the forename is recommended.

How to address the Widow of a Viscount

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

Beginning of letter Dear Lady Chelmsford
End of letter Yours sincerely
Envelope The Dowager (or Clare) Viscountess Chelmsford
Verbal communication Lady Chelmsford
Invitation The Dowager (or Clare) Lady Chelmsford
Description in conversation Lady Chelmsford
List of Directors or Patrons The Dowager (or Clare) Lady Chelmsford
Place card The Dowager (or Clare) Lady Chelmsford
Legal document The Right Honourable Clare Viscountess Chelmsford

If the present holder of the Viscountcy is unmarried, the widow of the previous Viscount does not use the term of either The Dowager Viscountess Chelmsford, or Clare, Viscountess Chelmsford, but continues to be known as The Viscountess Chelmsford.

Widow of a Viscount by Courtesy
The same rules apply to the widow as to the wife of a viscount by courtesy. 

If, after her husband's death, the title has passed to her late husband's brother (or other relation) she would prefix her title with her Christian name. If the title has passed to her son or stepson, she would prefix the title with her forename when he marries.


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