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The British Honours System

by Brian Mowbray

Since many readers, being colonials, will be unfamiliar with the system of honours prevailing in Britain, I shall briefly outline them in this article.

Peerage titles and Baronetcies are hereditary; the rest are conferred for life.

To obtain the title of Baron it is necessary to have an income of at least £5000 a year, to possess a country seat, and to own a thousand acres or more of land. Besides these criteria, you should have done something to merit the granting of a title. Distinguished public service as a Member of Parliament, General, Admiral, Governor, judge, or senior civil servant all qualifies. In addition, the donation of large sums of money to either a worthy charitable cause or to a political party will often lead to the awarding of a title.

A knighthood in the Order of the Garter is only open to members of the Royal Family, foreign sovereigns, and the most influential Peers. The Orders of the Thistle and St. Patrick are for the leading men of Scotland and Ireland, respectively.

Privy Councillors are leading politicians.

First, here is a simplified Table of Precedence:

Royal Family
Peers (Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, and Viscounts)
Peers (Barons)
Knights of the Garter, of the Thistle, and of St. Patrick
Privy Councillors
Knights Grand Cross of the Bath
Knights Grand Commander of the Star of India
Knights Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George
Knights Grand Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire
Knights Commander (Bath, Star of India, St. Michael and St. George, and Order of the Indian Empire)
Knights Bachelor
Commanders (Bath, Star of India, St. Michael and St. George, and Order of the Indian Empire)

Baronets are hereditary knights; the title is generally bestowed upon middling landowners with an income of at least £3000 a year.

The Order of the Bath is awarded for public service in military and civil divisions. To obtain the title of Companion of the Bath in the military division, you must have at least the rank of Major (Army) or Commander (Navy) and distinguish yourself in battle.

The order of the Star of India and the Order of the Indian Empire are given to civil servants and important natives in India. Note that the senior ranks are Knights Grand Commander (not Knights Grand Cross) so as not to offend the non-Christian inhabitants of India.

The Order of St. Michael and St. George is bestowed upon colonial civil servants.

Knights Bachelor are knights not belonging to an Order and outnumber all the orders put together.

Further Notes On The British Honour System

by Matthew Ruane

The following titles are non-nobility in nature, and are awarded for professional accomplishment. Individuals awarded these titles can use the abbreviations given in parentheses when writing their names.

Fellow of the Royal Society (F.R.S.): Scientists
Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (F.R.A.S.)
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (F.R.Hist.S.)
Imperial Service Order (I.S.O.): Civil Servants
Fellow of the American Geographical Society (F.A.G.S.): Explorers and Ethnographers

The following abbreviations are also encountered. However, they are professional titles rather than honorary awards.

J.P.: Justice of the Peace
K.C.: King's Counsel (lawyer)
Q.C.: Queen's Counsel (lawyer)
L.R.C.S.: Licentiate of Royal College of Surgeons

For those who are running a late 19th century campaign, the following is a partial list of English Peerages that were extinct at the time. These titles can be used to create backgrounds for player characters and NPCs, or they could be awarded to characters for extraordinary service to the Queen.

Marquess of Ormonde
Earl of Digby
Earl of Ranelagh (Irish)
Earl of St. Maur
Viscount Avonmore (Irish)
Viscount Bantry (Irish)
Viscount Castelmaine
Viscount Eversley of Heckfield
Viscount Lyons
Viscount Ranelagh (Irish)
Viscount Sherbrooke
Baron Bantry (Irish)
Baron Barrogill
Baron Blachford of Wisdome
Baron Broughton
Baron Dalling
Baron Farnborough
Baron Hatherly
Baron Rokeby (Irish)
Baron Strathnairn
Baron Waveney

Note: See the article "Queen Announces New Peerages For Mars" in The Syrtis Star of TRMGS #4 for a description of new Orders created to honor characters in the Space: 1889 universe. Posted Monday, 04-May-2009 19:50:39 EDT

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