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The “Red Hand of Ulster”, added to the coat of arms of the Baronets
The coat of arms of Nova Scotia, added to the coat of arms of Scottish baronets

The baronet (female form, albeit extremely rare: baronetess ; both as a diminutive of baron ) is a title in the United Kingdom that - among other things, on the proposal of the British Prime Minister or the British government - is usually bestowed by the British monarch on British citizens can be passed on from the title holder to the following generations and is sometimes (rarely) associated with the bestowal of a fief . In contrast to the barons, the baronets do not belong to the peerage and thus not to the British high nobility , but together with the knights form the so-called gentry , the lower nobility, whereby the rank of a knight , unlike that of a baronet , is usually not hereditary. The last baronetcy to date - and the first since 1965 - was awarded to Denis Thatcher in 1991 .


The history of the baronets in the British Isles goes back to the 14th century. The term baronet was originally used for nobles who had lost the right to a seat in parliament. As a hereditary aristocracy below the actual feudal nobility, the baronetship was introduced by King James I with the Baronetage of England on May 22, 1611 . He offered this survey to 200 selected men with an impressive minimum income of 1,000 pounds a year, among other things because it meant that each holder of the title had to finance thirty soldiers of the king for three years at a high price , which in turn was supposed to serve the settlement of Ireland . The Baronetage of Ireland was established four months later, on September 30, 1611 , and that of Scotland ( Baronetage of Nova Scotia ) in 1625. The latter originally served the development and settlement of the Scottish colony Nova Scotia and is therefore named after it. Since the unification of England and Scotland by the Act of Union 1707 , only baronetcies of Great Britain ( Baronetage of Great Britain ) have been awarded and since the Act of Union 1800 only baronetcies of the United Kingdom ( Baronetage of the United Kingdom ).

Since 1914 the Crown Office in the British Ministry of Justice (formerly the Home Office ) has published an official list, the Official Roll , on which all officially recognized baronetcies are noted. 1898 was the The Honorable Society of the barons days (dt about. The honorable Baronet Society ) was founded in 1903 in the Standing Council of the barons days (dt .: permanent council of the baronet ) was converted, who now is a member organization for Baronets takes care of their concerns and the creation of the Official Roll . Between 1611 and 2012, a little less than 3500 baronetcies were awarded. At the beginning of the 2010s, just over 1200 of them were still in use. There are also just over 150 baronet degrees that the living heirs do not claim. The last baronet title to date and the first since 1965 (after the Labor Party took over the government and promoted a classless society without an inheritance) was awarded in 1991 to Denis Thatcher , husband of Margaret Thatcher . This heritable tribute, which was primarily viewed as a tribute to Margaret Thatcher herself, who thus became Lady Thatcher , was controversial in Great Britain. Since then, no hereditary titles have been bestowed on non-members of the British royal family.


The appointment as baronet is equivalent to the elevation to the hereditary nobility . With the award of the title by the monarch but not going accolade associated. The succession in the dignity of a baronet is regulated with the first award; unlike in most other European aristocracies, the title in Great Britain does not pass to all the children of the title holder, but only to one heir. In most cases, the testator's eldest living son is the heir to the title. If the testator has no son, the title is transferred to the next male relative. In some cases, especially with Scottish titles, it is also possible to pass it on via the female line.

The lower nobility of Great Britain is basically divided into the baronets and the knights, whose dignity is not hereditary. In the protocol-based hierarchy in the United Kingdom, the baronets therefore rank above the knights of the state knightly orders and the Knight Bachelors subordinate to them . The only exceptions to this are knights of the Order of the Garter and the Order of Thistles , who are in rank above the Baronets. Both baronets and knights of any kind rank as representatives of the (landed) gentry (German: landed gentry ) among the barons (German: Freiherrn ), who form the lowest level of the British high nobility ( peerage ). The ranking of the baronets among themselves is based on the date of award. The older the patent, the higher the rank. The currently oldest baronetcy still in existence, the Bacon Baronetcy , of Redgrave in the County of Suffolk, was awarded on May 22, 1611 as one of the first titles awarded by James I and has been passed on since then. The current title holder (as of 2018), Sir Nicholas Bacon, 14th Baronet (* 1953), is thus the Prime Baronet of England.

The title of baronet goes hand in hand with a territorial designation according to the scheme “<surname> of <place name> <(if necessary place addition)>”, which is related to the title holder (e.g. place of birth or place of residence etc.). Denis Thatcher was, for example, " 1st Baronet, of Scotney in the County of Kent ". Thatcher and his wife owned an apartment on the grounds of Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst (about 13 km from Tunbridge Wells in the county of Kent ). His son Mark , to whom the title passed after the death of his father, is the " 2nd Baronet, of Scotney in the County of Kent ". This baronet is called in the Official Roll of the Baronetage , the official register of the baronet, Thatcher of Scotney .

Baronets, with the exception of the Scottish ones, add the “Red Hand of Ulster” as a heart shield to their coat of arms . Baronets of the Baronetage of Nova Scotia instead use the coat of arms of Nova Scotia as a coat of arms addition .

Female title holders

Female baronets, called baronetess, are extremely rare and only occur in exceptional cases and only in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia. The bestowal of the title of Baronetess, of Osberton in the County of Nottingham, in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia on December 19, 1635 to Mary Bolles (1579–1662) was the so far only bestowal of a Baronetcy directly to a woman. This was also only passed on to male offspring. Only four times did a baronet title fall to a woman through inheritance due to special regulations in the award document :

  • 1777: Dame Emilia Stuart Belshes, 3rd Baronetess of Clifton Hall († 1807; title created 1706)
  • 1935: Dame Eleanor Isabel Dalyell, 9th Baronetess of the Binns (1895–1972; title created 1685)
  • 1963: Dame Maureen Daisy Helen Dunbar, 8th Baronetess of Hempriggs (1906–1997; title created 1706)
  • 2005: Dame Anne Maxwell-Macdonald 11th Baronetess of Pollok (1906–2011; title created 1682)


The salutation for a baronet is Sir , for his wife Lady . The "Sir" is placed in front of the first name , the "Lady" in front of the last name . The expression "Baronet" appears in writing after the family name , often abbreviated as Bar. , Bart. or Bt. The suffix Sir is only used in connection with the first name or the first and last name, e.g. B. "Sir Walter" or "Sir Walter Elliot", but never "Sir Elliot". If the baronet dies and the title is passed on to the son, his wife is called "Lady <surname>", while the wife of the deceased is called "<First name>, Lady <surname>" from then on.

A baroness is addressed as " lady <first name>" or "lady <first name> <last name>". The husband of a baroness is not specifically addressed.

Some well-known titleholders


  • George Edward Cokayne (Ed.): The Complete Baronetage. 6 volumes, William Pollard & Co, Exeter 1900–1909.

Web links


  1. Only in 2005 did she get her title, which she inherited when her father died in 1956, recognized by the Court of the Lord Lyon after a long legal battle .