Tagged: England

Better Know a Newfoundland Functionary: The High Commissioner of Newfoundland to the United Kingdom

Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring (1858-1943)

Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring (1858-1943), the first and last High Commissioner of Newfoundland to the UK.

The Dominion of Newfoundland had, like every other British Dominion, had a High Commissioner to London, starting in 1918. It stopped in 1934, when Britain started talking directly to the Commission of Government.

The Newfoundland High Commissioners to the UK were:

Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring KCMG (1st time), 1918-22.
Lt.-Col. Thomas Nangle CF, 1923-24.
Capt. Victor Gordon CMG MC, 1924-28.
Sir John R. Bennett KBE, 1928.
Daniel James Davies CBE, 1928-32.
Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring KCMG (2nd time), 1933-34.


Better know a Canadian functionary: the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom

The position of High Commissioner to the United Kingdom was instituted in 1880 so that the Canadian government had representation in London. It was a strange point in Canadian external relations; Canada was no longer entirely a colony, so some diplomatic channel to the UK was needed, but it wasn’t an independent country, so Canada couldn’t exactly send an ambassador. Since Canada was the first member of the Empire in this position, it set the standard; now, the ambassadors between all the countries of the Commonwealth are called “High Commissioner”.

The High Commission of Canada is at Canada House, Trafalgar Square, Westminster. There are also honorary consulates in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. From 1961 to 2013 the High Commissioner had a separate residence at Macdonald House, 1 Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, but it has since been sold to an Indian tycoon.

The High Commissioners of Canada to the United Kingdom have been:

The Hon. Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt GCMG PC (1817-93), 1880-83. Born in London, the son of the Scottish novelist John Galt, Galt was an influential member of the legislature of the Province of Canada and was one of the Fathers of Confederation, sitting as the Conservative MP for Sherbrooke from 1867 to 1872 and serving as Canada’s first Minister of Finance from July to November of 1867. After leaving London he pursued business ventures in the Canadian West, and co-founded with his son Elliott the city of Lethbridge, AB.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Tupper GCMG CB PC MD, Bt. (1821-1915), 1883-96. Born in Amherst, NS, Tupper earned a degree in medicine from the University of Edinburgh. He became a key figure among the Fathers of confederation as premier of Nova Scotia from 1864 to 1867. He was then MP for Cumberland County from 1867 to 1884, and served in the cabinet of Sir John A. Macdonald. After serving as High Commissioner, he returned to Canada to become leader of the Conservative Party, becoming Prime Minister for 69 days in 1896 – Canada’s shortest-serving prime minister. He was then MP for Cape Breton and Leader of the Opposition from 1896 to 1900 and was the longest-lived Father of Confederation, dying in 1915 at the age of 94. Tupper’s son, Sir Charles Hibbert Tupper, was Fisheries minister under Macdonald, Abbott and Thompson, Justice minister under Bowell, and Solicitor-General under his father; another son, William Johnston Tupper, was Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Alexander Smith GCMG GCVO PC DL, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal (1820-1914), 1896-1914. Born in Moray, Scotland, Smith moved to Montreal at 18 to clerk for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was made Chief Factor of the District of Labrador in 1862, Commissioner of the Montreal Department in 1868, and President of the Council of the Northern Department in 1870. After being sent to negotiate with Louis Riel in the Red River Rebellion of 1869, Smith was elected to the assembly of Manitoba in 1870, the House of Commons in 1871, and the Council of the Northwest Territories in 1872, holding all three simultaneously until resigning from the Manitoba legislature in 1874. Smith was defeated in re-election to Parliament in 1880 and became one of the founding directors of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and personally drove in the last spike of the transcontinental line at Craigellachie, BC, in 1885. He was Governor of the HBC from 1889 to his death in 1914; he was the company’s longest-serving employee, as his career there lasted 75 years.

The Rt. Hon. Sir George Halsey Perley KCMG PC (1857-1938), 1914-22. Born in Lebanon, NH, he moved as a child to the Ottawa Valley, where his father, William Goodhue Perley, became a lumber baron and Conservative MP. George Perley followed his father into the lumber business and became a big wheel in Ottawa society, donating a million dollars in relief of the Ottawa-Hull Fire of 1900. He was the Conservative MP for Argenteuil County from 1904 to 1917 and served as Minister of Overseas Military Forces in the cabinet of Sir Robert Borden. After returning from London, Sir George served again as MP for Argenteuil County from 1925 to 1938, and was Secretary of State for Canada in the brief 1926 government of Arthur Meighen, and as Minister Without Portfolio in the cabinet of R.B. Bennett.

The Hon. Peter Charles Larkin PC (1855-1930), 1922-30. Born in Montreal, Larkin made his fortune in the import of exotic foodstuffs, and founded the Salada Tea Company, which was the first tea merchant to seal tea in foil to preserve its freshness. In 1899 he joined a consortium of wealthy men, including department store magnate Timothy Eaton, Postmaster-General Sir William Mulock and Sen. George Cox, in buying a controlling share of the Toronto Star in order to install Joseph E. Atkinson as its Editor-in-Chief. Larkin was a friend and patron of W.L. Mackenzie King, and paid for the refurbishment of Laurier House, King’s Ottawa residence; King, in turn, made Larkin a Privy Councillor and appointed him High Commissioner. While in London, Larkin moved the High Commission from some scattered offices in Victoria Street, Westminster, to Canada House, which had been two buildings housing the Union Club and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Lucien Turcotte Pacaud (1879-1960), 1930 (acting)

The Hon. George Howard Ferguson PC (1870-1946), 1930-35. Son of Conservative MP Charles Frederick Ferguson, Howard Ferguson was born in Kemptville, ON, went to Osgoode Hall Law School, and was Conservative premier of Ontario from 1923 to 1930. Before his death he was was briefly Chancellor of the University of Western Ontario.

The Rt. Hon. Charles Vincent Massey PC CH CC CD (1887-1967), 1935-46. Scion of the wealthy Massey family of farm equipment fame (almost any old-timer’s farm in Canada will have a Massey-Harris or Massey-Ferguson tractor), grandson of Hart Massey (who built Massey Hall in Toronto), and brother of actor Raymond Massey, Vincent Massey attended the University of Toronto and Oxford, then was appointed Dean of Men at Burwash Hall, U of T, where he lectured in history. He then married Anna Parkin, daughter of the Principal of Upper Canada College, thus becoming by marriage the uncle of the political philosopher George Grant and great-uncle of Michael Ignatieff. Massey ran for the set of Durham County in the 1925 election as a Liberal and lost. He was then Canada’s first official Envoy to the United States from 1927 to 1930, then was President of the National Liberal Federation of Canada before being sent to London. He was High Commissioner during the Abdication Crisis, the coronation of George VI and World War II, where his secretaries included Georges Vanier and Lester Pearson. After the War Massey chaired the Massey Commission into the state of the arts and humanities in Canada, then became the first Canadian-born Governor-General of Canada, serving from 1952 to 1959.

Norman Alexander Robertson CC (1st time) (1904-68), 1946-49. Born in Vancouver, Robertson went to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. He joined the Department of External Affairs in 1929 and became friends with Lester Pearson and Hume Wrong. During World War II, he served as deputy minister of External Affairs.

Leolyn Dana Wilgress CC (1892-1969), 1949-52. Born in Vancouver and educated at McGill, Dana Wilgress was a career diplomat. Besides serving as High Commissioner, he was also Ambassador to the USSR, deputy minister of External Affairs, and Representative to NATO and the OECD.

Norman Alexander Robertson CC (2nd time) (1904-68), 1952-57. Robertson, who was Clerk of the Privy Council from 1949 to 1952, was High Commissioner during the coronation of Elizabeth II, where he was a standard-bearer. He later served as Ambassador to the US.

The Hon. George Alexander Drew PC CC QC (1894-1973), 1957-64. George Drew went to Osgoode Hall Law School and married the daughter of an opera singer who was general manager of the Met in New York. Drew was then Mayor of Guelph from 1925 to 1929, chairman of  the Ontario Securities Commission from 1931 to 1934, leader of the Conservative Party of Ontario from 1936 to 1948, premier of Ontario from 1943 to 1948 and the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1948 to 1956, during which time he was Leader of the Opposition; he was also the MP for Carleton County from 1949 to 1957. After his time as High Commissioner, he was the first Chancellor of the University of Guelph.

The Hon. Lionel Chevrier PC CC QC (1903-87), 1964-67. A graduate of Osgoode Hall, Chevrier was Liberal MP for Stormont County from 1935 to 1954, President of the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority from 1954 to 1957, and Liberal MP for Laurier from 1957 to 1964. Chevrier was also Minister of Transport from 1945 to 1954, Opposition House Leader under Diefenbaker, and Minister of Justice from 1963 to 1964.

Charles Stewart Almon Ritchie CC (1906-95), 1967-71. Born into a rich family in Halifax, Ritchie, whose brother Roland would eventually become a Justice of the Supreme Court, went to the University of King’s College, Oxford, Harvard and the École Libre des Sciences Politiques before becoming a diplomat. He was Ambassador to West Germany, the UN, the US and NATO before being appointed High Commissioner. He also had a long intermittent affair with the Irish author Elizabeth Bowen.

Jack Hamilton Warren OC (1921-2008), 1971-74. Warren served in the Navy in World War II and was Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce. He would later become Ambassador to the US, then a director of the Bank of Montreal.

The Rt. Hon. Joseph James Guillaume Paul Martin PC CC QC (1903-92), 1974-79. Born in Ottawa and raised in Pembroke, ON, Paul Martin survived polio as a child and graduated from Osgoode Hall. He was Liberal MP for Essex East from 1935 to 1968, and was Secretary of State for Canada under King, Minister of Health and Welfare under King and Saint-Laurent and Secretary of State for External Affairs under Pearson. He ran for leadership of the Liberal Party in 1958, placing second, and in 1968, placing fourth on the first ballot and dropping out. (Martin was also nominated in the 1948 leadership convention, but withdrew before voting began to throw his support to Louis Saint-Laurent.  This was actually a ploy by Mackenzie King to ensure that Saint-Laurent would win; the same thing was done by Minister of Finance Douglas Abbott, Minister of Trade and Commerce C.D. Howe, Minister of Transport Lionel Chevrier, and Manitoba premier Stuart Garson.) Martin was appointed to the Senate from 1968 to 1974, and was Leader of the Government in the Senate under Trudeau. After he left London, Martin taught political science at the University of Windsor. His son, Paul Martin Jr., was Minister of Finance under Jean Chrétien and Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006.

Jean Casselman Wadds OC (1920-2011), 1980-83. Born Jean Rowe near Bradford, ON, Jean married Grenville–Dundas MP A.C. Casselman in 1946. He died in 1958, and so Jean Casselman ran for the vacant seat as a Progressive Conservative, and won it. Her father, William Earl Rowe, was at the same time the MP for Dufferin–Simcoe, making them the only father-daughter team in Parliamentary history. Casselman became the first female parliamentary secretary in 1962, serving under Minister of Health and Welfare Jay Waldo Monteith. Casselman remarried to a Toronto stockbroker, Robert Wadds, and served in Parliament until 1968. The first female High Commissioner to the UK, she played a key role in the repatriation of the Constitution in 1982.

The Hon. Donald Campbell Jamieson PC (1921-86), 1983-85. Born in St. John’s, NL, Jamieson was a beloved broadcasting personality and the first Newfoundlander in the parliamentary press gallery in 1945, despite opposing Newfoundland joining Confederation, preferring instead political indepedence with economic union with the US. He founded the first TV station in Newfoundland, CJON-TV (now NTV Superstation) and was president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters. Jamieson was the Liberal MP for Burin-Burgeo from 1966 to 1979 and served in the Trudeau cabinet as Minister of Defence Production (1968-69), Minister of Transport (1969-72), Minister of Regional Economic Expansion (1972-76) and Secretary of State for External Affairs (1976-79).

Roland McMurtry OC Oont (1932-now), 1985-88. Born in Toronto and a grad of Osgoode Hall, “Roy” McMurtry took landscape painting lessons from Group of Seven painter A.J. Casson and was a close friend of Ontario premier William Davis and was the PC MPP for Eglinton from 1975 to 1985, during which time he was also Attorney-General of Ontario He ran for the provincial PC leadership in 1985, finishing fourth. After being High Commissioner, McMurtry was the Commissioner of the CFL, then was appointed to the Superior Court of Ontario in 1991, and was Chief Justice of Ontario from 1996 to 2007.

The Hon. Donald Stovel Macdonald PC CC (1932-now), 1988-91. Born in Ottawa, Macdonald went to U of T, Harvard and Cambridge. He was Liberal MP for Rosedale from 1962 to 1977, serving as  President of the Privy Council, Minister of National Defence, Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and Minister of Finance under Trudeau. Macdonald chaired a Royal Commission in 1982 which recommended free trade with the US, which was the beginning of NAFTA.

Fredrik Stefan Eaton OC Oont (1938-now), 1991-94. Scion of the Eaton department store family, Fred Eaton attended UNB and was CEO of Eaton’s from 1977 to 1988.

Royce Herbert Frith CM QC (1923-2005), 1994-96. Born in Lachine and educated at Osgoode Hall, Roy Frith was a legal advisor to the Commissioner of Official Languages and was a Liberal senator from 1977 to 1994. He was later a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Arts Centre.

The Hon. Roy MacLaren PC (1934-now), 1996-2000. Born in Vancouver, MacLaren went to UBC, U of T and Cambridge. He worked in the foreign service for 12 years and was the Liberal MP for Etobicoke North from 1978 to 1984 and from 1988 to 1996. He was Minister of National Revenue under Turner and Minister of International Trade under Chrétien. He is now the chair of the Canada-India Business Council.

Jeremy K.B. Kinsman (1942-now), 2000-02. Born in Montreal, Kinsman went to Princeton and was a career diplomat. He was Ambassador to Russia and to Italy before going to the UK, and afterwards he was Ambassador to the European Union.

Melvin Samuel Cappe OC (1948-now), 2002-06. Born in Toronto and an alumnus of U of T and UWO, Mel Cappe had a long career in the civil service, culminating in becoming Clerk of the Privy Council from 1999 to 2002. He was later CEO of the Institute for Research on Public Policy from 2006 to 2011.

James R. Wright (1949-now), 2006-11.  A Montrealer and McGill grad, Wright was a career diplomat, serving in a number of low level postings in Moscow DC and London before becoming High Commissioner.

Gordon Muir Campbell OBC (1948-now), 2011-now. A Vancouverite, Campbell went to Dartmouth College, was Mayor of Vancouver from 1986 to 1993, became leader of the BC Liberal Party in 1994, and was Premier of BC from 2001 to 2011.

The Hereditary Peerages of Elizabeth II

A lot of people might think of British lordships as being a thing of the 19th and pre-war 20th century, and big fat rich men fretting over the possibility of getting a peerage as belonging the casts of Sherlock Holmes stories and P.G. Wodehouse novels. But the fact is that the handing out of hereditary peerages was common practice until 1965. Life peerages (other than those awarded to the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary) were only invented in 1958, and when the Labour Party under Harold Wilson took power, it set the precedent of using them exclusively to stack the House of Lords in the party’s favour. Our present Queen is likely to be the last British monarch to create the traditional hereditary peerages in any quantity; in her reign, she has created two dukedoms, 12 earldoms, 41 viscounties and 92 baronies. In no particular order, let’s take a look at the people who got them.

Let’s start with the Royal Family. The Queen’s former brother-in-law, Anthony Armstrong-Jones, married Princess Margaret in 1961 and was declared Earl of Snowdon and Viscount Linley. The rest of the royal titles she has bestowed have been as wedding gifts upon her progeny: Prince Andrew as Duke of York, Earl of Inverness and Baron Killyleagh in 1986; Prince Edward as Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn in 1999; and Prince William as Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Stratherarn and Baron Carrickfergus in 2011.

For a good long while it was customary to give a retiring Prime Minister an earldom. Three prime ministers got titles from Elizabeth II: Clement Attlee (1945-51) became Earl Attlee and Viscount Prestwood in 1955; Sir Anthony Eden (1955-57) became the Earl of Avon and Viscount Eden in 1961 (the titles went extinct when his son died in 1985) and Harold Macmillan (1957-63) became the Earl of Stockton and Viscount Macmillan of Ovenden in 1984.

There were a few late-coming World War generals getting peerages too. Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander, 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis, was made Earl Alexander of Tunis and Baron Rideau in March of 1952. Field Marshal Sir William Slim was made Viscount Slim in 1960. Gen. George Jeffreys, a World War I general and Conservative MP during WWII, was made Baron Jeffreys in July 1952. Lt.-Gen. Ronald Weeks, deputy chief of the Imperial General Staff, became Baron Weeks in 1956 (it went extinct when he died in 1960). Lt.-Gen. Willoughby Norrie, commander of the 1st Armoured Division in North Africa under Bernard Montgomery, became Baron Norrie in 1957. Field Marshal Sir John Harding became Baron Harding of Petherton in 1958. Gen. Sir Brian Robertson, Bt., military governor of British-occupied West Germany and later the chairman of the British Transport Commission from 1953 to 1961, became Baron Robertson of Oakridge in 1961. Brigadier Toby Low, later the MP for Blackpool North from 1945 to 1962, became Baron Aldington in 1962.

A sizable proportion of the War cabinet were given peerages by Elizabeth II.

  • Frederick Marquis, 1st Baron Woolton, the Minister of Food (and the namesake of Woolton pie), was made Viscount Woolton in 1953, then the Earl of Woolton and Viscount Walberton in 1956.
  • Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Viscount Swinton, Minister of Civil Aviation during the war, President of the Board of Trade and Secretary for the Colonies before it and Secretary for Commonwealth Relations after it, became the Earl of Swinton and Baron Masham in 1955.
  • Henry Moore, 10th Earl of Drogheda in the Peerage of Ireland, Minister of Economic Warfare from 1942 to 1945, and Chairman of the Cinematograph Films Council from 1944 to 1954, was made Baron Moore in 1954 to give him a permanent seat in the House of Lords.
  • David Maxwell Fyfe, Solicitor-General from 1942 to 1945, Home Secretary from 1951 to 1954, and Lord Chancellor from 1954 to 1962, was made Viscount Kilmuir in 1954, then the Earl of Kilmuir and Baron Fyfe of Dornoch in 1962 (they went extinct upon his death in 1965).
  • Richard Law, political philosopher, son of prime minister Andrew Bonar Law, Financial Secretary to the War Office from 1940 to 1941 and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 1943 to 1945, was made Baron Coleraine in 1954.
  • A.V. Alexander, 1st Viscount Alexander of Hillsborough, Churchill’s successor as First Lord of the Admiralty in 1940 and later Secretary of Defence under Attlee, was made Earl Alexander of Hillsborough and Baron Weston-Super-Mare in 1963 (they died with him in 1965).
  • Sir Archibald Sinclair, Bt., Secretary for Air from 1940 to 1945 and leader of the Liberal Party from 1935 to 1945, was named Viscount Thurso in April of 1952; his grandson, the 3rd Viscount, is currently a Lib Dem MP.
  • Frederick Leathers, 1st Baron Leathers, Minister of War Transport, became Viscount Leathers in 1954.
  • Herwald Ramsbotham, 1st Baron Soulbury, Minister of Pensions under Chamberlain, President of the Board of Education from 1940 to 1941, Chairman of the Assistance Board for the rest of the war, and Governor-General of Ceylon from 1949 to 1954, became Viscount Soulbury in 1954.
  • Oliver Lyttelton, Minister of Production from 1942 to 1945 and Secretary for the Colonies from 1951 to 1954, became Viscount Chandos in 1954.
  • Sir Ralph Assheton, Bt., Minister of Supply in 1942, Financial Secretary to the Treasury from 1942 to 1944, and chairman of the Conservative Party from 1944 to 1946, was made Baron Clitheroe in 1955.
  • William Morrison, Postmaster-General from 1940 to 1943 and Minister for Town and Country Planning from 1943 to 1945, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1951 to 1959 and Governor-General of Australia from 1960 to 1961, became Viscount Dunrossil in 1959.
  • Robert Grimston, Treasurer of the Household from 1939 to 1942, became Baron Grimston of Westbury in 1964.

Winston Churchill’s cabinet from his second government (1951-55) had a fair share of newly minted peers, as did the governments of Sir Anthony Eden (1955-57), Harold Macmillan (1957-63) and Sir Alec Douglas-Home (1963-64):

  • Arthur Salter, political sciences professor at Oxford University, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1945 and Minister of Materials in 1952, became Baron Salter in 1953 (dying with him in 1975)
  • Mr. Justice Gavin Simonds, Lord Chancellor from 1951 to 1954, became Baron Simonds in June 1952 and Viscount Simonds in 1954 (dying with him in 1971)
  • Henry Scrymgeour-Wedderburn, 11th Earl of Dundee in the Peerage of Scotland, a Renfrewshire MP from 1931 to 1945 and Minister Without Portfolio from 1958 to 1961, became Baron Glassary in the UK peerage in 1954
  • William Sidney, 6th Baron de L’Isle and Dudley, who won the Victoria Cross in Italy, Secretary for Air from 1951 to 1955 and Governor-General of Australia from 1961 to 1965, made Viscount de L’Isle in 1956
  • Harry Crookshank, Leader in the House of Commons from 1951 to 1955, made Viscount Crookshank in 1956 (dying with him in 1961)
  • Osbert Peake, Minister of National Insurance from 1951 to 1955, made Viscount Ingleby in 1956 (the title died with his son in 2008)
  • James Thomas, First Lord of the Admiralty from 1951 to 1956, made Viscount Cilcennin in 1956 (died with him in 1960)
  • Henry Hopkinson, Secretary for Overseas Trade from 1951 to 1952 and Secretary for Colonial Affairs from 1952 to 1955, was made Baron Colyton in 1956
  • Walter Monckton, Minister of Labour and National Service from 1951 to 1955, and later Minister of Defence and Paymaster-General under Sir Anthony Eden, became Viscount Monckton of Brenchley in 1957
  • Gwilim Lloyd George, son of David, Home Secretary from 1954 to 1957, became Viscount Tenby in 1957
  • Patrick Buchan-Hepburn, Government Chief Whip from 1951 to 1955 and Governor-General of the West Indies Federation from 1958 to 1962, became Baron Hailes in 1957 (dying with him in 1974)
  • David Lewis, Minister of State for Welsh Affairs from 1957 to 1964, became Baron Brecon in 1958 (dying with him in 1976)
  • James Stuart, Secretary for Scotland from 1951 to 1957, became Viscount Stuart of Findhorn in 1959
  • Sir Thomas Dugdale, Bt., Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries from 1951 to 1954, was made Baron Crathorne in 1959
  • Antony Head, Secretary for War from 1951 to 1956, became Viscount Head in 1960
  • Derick Heathcoat-Amory, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries from 1954 to 1958 and Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1958 to 1960, was made Viscount Amory in 1960 (dying with him in 1981)
  • Alan Lennox-Boyd, Minister of Transport from 1952 to 1954 and Secretary for the Colonies from 1954 to 1959, was made Viscount Boyd of Merton in 1960
  • Percy Mills, industrialist, Controller-General of Machine Tools for the Ministry of Supply during WWII, Minister of Power under Sir Anthony Eden and Paymaster-General under Harold Macmillan, became Baron Mills in 1957 and Viscount Mills in 1962
  •  George Ward, Secretary for Air from 1957 to 1960, was made Viscount Ward of Witley in 1960 (dying with him in 1988)
  •  John Hare, Secretary for the Colonies, Secretary of War, Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Labour under Sir Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan, was made Viscount Blakenham in 1963
  • Niall Macpherson, Minister of Pensions and National Insurance from 1962 to 1963, became Baron Drumalbyn in 1963 (dying with him in 1987)
  • David Eccles, Minister of Works from 1951 to 1954, Minister of Education from 1954 to 1957 and from 1959 to 1962 and President of the Board of Trade from 1957 to 1959, was made Baron Eccles in 1962 and Viscount Eccles in 1964
  • Harold Watkinson, Minister of Transport from 1957 to 1959 and Minister of Defence from 1959 to 1962, was made Viscount Watkinson in 1964 (dying with him in 1995)
  • John Maclay, Secretary for Scotland from 1957 to 1962, was made Viscount Muirshiel in 1964 (which died with him in 1992)
  • Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, Bt., Solicitor-General from 1951 to 1954, Attorney-General for England and Wales from 1954 to 1962 and Lord Chancellor from 1962 to 1964, became Baron Dilhorne in 1962 and Viscount Dilhorne in 1964
  • John Hope, Minister of Works from 1959 to 1962, became Baron Glendevon in 1964
  • Frederick Erroll, President of the Board of Trade from 1961 to 1963 and Minister of Power from 1963 to 1964, became Baron Erroll of Hale in 1964 (dying with him in 2000)
  • Michael Hughes-Young, Treasurer of the Household from 1962 to 1964, became Baron St. Helens in 1964

The easiest way to get a peerage was to sit as an MP for an appreciable length of time, serve as Under-Secretary or Parliamentary Secretary to a department or two, and retire as the government was casting around to prop up its majority in the House of Lords. For example:

  • Edward Turnour, 6th Earl Winterton in the Peerage of Ireland, the MP for Horsham for 47 years and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster under Neville Chamberlain, was made Baron Turnour in February 1952, entitling him to a seat in the House of Lords (the barony died with him in 1962, and his earldom passed to a cousin living in Canada)
  • Sir Hugh O’Neill, Bt., MP for Antrim for 37 years and Speaker of the Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1921 to 1929, was made Baron Rathcavan in 1953
  • Sir Ralph Glyn, Bt., a Conservative MP for 33 years, became Baron Glyn in 1953 (dying with him in 1960)
  • Stanley Holmes, MP for Harwich from 1935 to 1954, became Baron Dovercourt in 1954 (dying with him in 1961)
  • Arnold Gridley, MP for Stockport from 1935 to 1955, was made Baron Gridley in 1955
  • Thomas Galbraith, MP for Glasgow Pollok from 1940 to 1955, became Baron Strathclyde in 1955
  • Henry Strauss, an MP from 1935 to 1955, was made Baron Conesford in 1955 (dying with him in 1974)
  • Malcolm McCorquodale, a director of the Bank of Scotland and an MP for 22 years, was made Baron McCorquodale of Newton in 1955 (it died with him in 1971)
  • Charles MacAndrew, a Scottish Unionist MP for 33 years, was made Baron MacAndrew in 1959
  • William Mabane, MP for Huddersfield West from 1931 to 1945 and head of the British Travel Association from 1960 to 1967, became Baron Mabane in 1962 (dying with him in 1969)
  • Roland Robinson, an MP from 1931 to 1964, and later Governor of Bermuda from 1964 to 1972, was made Baron Martonmere in 1964
  • William Fletcher-Vane, MP for Westmorland from 1945 to 1964, became Baron Inglewood in 1964
  • John Morrison, MP for Salisbury from 1942 to 1965, became Baron Margadale in 1965

Or maybe you could have been the chairman of a major corporation? For example:

  • Clive Baillieu, a raw materials purchasing agent for the UK in Washington in WWII and chairman of Dunlop Rubber from 1949 to 1957, became Baron Baillieu in 1953
  • Peter Bennett, chairman of auto parts manufacturer Joseph Lucas Ltd. and a Birmingham MP for 13 years, became Baron Bennett of Edgbaston in 1953 (dying with him in 1957)
  • William Fraser, chairman of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now BP) from 1941 to 1956, became Baron Strathalmond in 1955
  • Geoffrey Heyworth, chairman of Unilever Ltd. from 1942 to 1960, became Baron Heyworth in 1955 (dying with him in 1974)
  • John Jacob Astor V, scion of the wealthy Astor family of Manhattan, owner of the Times from 1922 to 1959, chairman of Phoenix Insurance Co. from 1952 to 1958, a member of the board of directors for the Great Western Railway from 1929 to 1946 and of Barclays Bank from 1942 to 1952, winner of the 1908 Olympic gold medal in men’s doubles rackets (which is not the same as racquetball) and the MP for Dover from 1922 to 1945, was made Baron Astor of Hever in 1956
  • Frederick Godber, chairman and managing director of Shell Oil, was made Baron Godber in 1956 (dying with him in 1976)
  • Harold Mackintosh, 1st Baron Mackintosh of Halifax, president of the toffee company of the same name and chairman of the National Savings Committee from 1943 to 1958, became Viscount Mackintosh of Halifax in 1957
  • Robert Sinclair, Director-General of Army Requirements for the War Office from 1939 to 1942, then Chief Executive of the Ministry of Production from 1943 to 1945, then chairman of Imperial Tobacco from 1947 to 1959, became Baron Sinclair of Cleeve in 1957
  • J. Arthur Rank, owner of a number of film studios and cinema chains that he conglomerated as the Rank Organization, was made Baron Rank in 1957 (dying with him in 1972)
  • Ellis Robins, the first person to receive a Rhodes Scholarship and a businessman who concentrated a great deal of investment in Rhodesia, was made Baron Robins in 1958 (dying with him in 1962)
  • Col. Oliver Poole, an underwriting member of Lloyd’s of London and a big wheel in the upper levels of the Conservative Party, was made Baron Poole in 1958
  • William Rootes, owner of the car manufacturer of the same name, was made Baron Rootes in 1959
  • John Kemp, 2nd Baron Rochdale, a textile magnate, president of the National Union of Manufacturers from 1953 to 1956 and a member of the BBC’s board of governors from 1954 to 1959, was made Viscount Rochdale in 1960
  • Sir George Nelson, Bt., chairman of English Electric from 1930 to 1962, became Baron Nelson of Stafford in 1960
  • Basil Sanderson, shipping magnate and Head of Port Transit Control for the Ministry of War Transport from 1941 to 1945, was made Baron Sanderson of Ayot in 1960
  • Alexander Fleck, an industrial chemist specializing in radioactive materials and the chairman of Imperial Chemical Industries from 1953 to 1960, was made Baron Fleck in 1961 (dying with him in 1968)
  • Simon Marks, chairman of Marks and Spencer, was made Baron Marks of Broughton in 1961
  • Sir George Leighton Seager, Bt., the shipping magnate, was made Baron Leighton of St. Mellons in 1962
  • Leonard Lord, the last president of Austin Motors and president of the British Motor Corporation from 1952 to 1967, was made Baron Lambury in 1962 (dying with him in 1967)
  • Sir Robert Renwick, Bt., head of the County of London Electric Company for the duration of World War II, was made Baron Renwick in 1964
  • John Erskine, general manager of the Commercial Bank of Scotland from 1932 to 1953 and Governor of Northern Ireland from 1964 to 1968, was made Baron Erskine of Rerrick in 1964 (dying with his son in 1995)
  • Sir Hugh Fraser, Bt., of the House of Fraser chain of department stores, became Baron Fraser of Allander in 1964 (dying with his son in 1987)
  • Roy Thomson, a Canadian newspaper tycoon who owned the Scotsman, the Times, and the ITV franchise for central Scotland, was made Baron Thomson of Fleet in 1964 (the family later returned to Canada; the current Lord Thomson is the chairman of media giant Thomson Reuters, and the richest man in Canada)

Diplomats were well served at the peerage buffet:

  • Duff Cooper, the first British ambassador to France after its liberation in 1944, made Viscount Norwich in July of 1952
  • Sir William Strang, a top official in the Foreign Office between 1933 and 1953, became Baron Strang in 1954
  • Sir Oliver Harvey, Bt., ambassador to France from 1948 to 1954, was made Baron Harvey of Tasburgh in 1954
  • Gladwyn Jebb, a diplomat and Acting Secretary-General of the UN from 1945 to 1946, became Baron Gladwyn in 1960
  • Sir Frederick Millar, the first British ambassador to West Germany (1955-56), was made Baron Inchyra in 1962
  • Roger Makins, ambassador to the US from 1953 to 1956 and chairman of the UK Atomic Energy Commission from 1960 to 1964, became Baron Sherfield in 1964

As were judges:

  • Thomas Cooper, Lord Advocate of Scotland from 1935 to 1941, Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland from 1941 to 1947 and Lord Justice General and Lord President of the Court of Session of Scotland from 1947 to 1954, was made Baron Cooper of Culross in 1954 (dying with him in 1955)
  • Mr. Justice Raymond Evershed, Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England (the second most senior judge in England and Wales) from 1949 to 1962, became Baron Evershed in 1956 (dying with him in 1966)
  • Mr. Justice Norman Birkett, a judge of the Court of Appeals for England and Wales from 1950 to 1956, became Baron Birkett in 1958
  • Patrick Spens, Chief Justice of India from 1943 to 1947, became Baron Spens in 1959

And civil servants:

  • Sir Edward Bridges, Cabinet Secretary from 1938 to 1946 and Head of the Home Civil Service and Permanent Secretary to the Treasury from 1946 to 1956, became Baron Bridges in 1957
  • Sir John Forster, a public servant at the Ministry of Labour and President of the Industrial Court from 1946 to 1959, became Baron Forster of Harraby in 1959 (dying with him in 1972)
  • Terence Nugent, Comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s Office from 1936 to 1960, was made Baron Nugent in 1960 (dying with him in 1973)
  • Cameron Cobbold, Governor of the Bank of England from 1949 to 1960 and Lord Great Chamberlain from 1963 to 1971, was made Baron Cobbold in 1960
  • Cyril Radcliffe, Baron Radcliffe, Director-General of the Ministry of Information in WWII and chairman of the Indian Boundary Committee in 1947, made Viscount Radcliffe in 1962 (dying with him in 1977)
  • Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, Bt., a leading member of the Church Estates Commission, became Baron Silsoe in 1963
  • Sir Norman Brook, Cabinet Secretary from 1947 to 1962, became Baron Normanbrook in 1963 (dying with him in 1967)

And doctors, too:

  • Edgar Adrian, a neurologist and co-winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize for Medicine, was made Baron Adrian in 1955 (the title died with his son in 1995)
  • Dr. Henry Cohen, a lecturer in medicine and founding vice-chairman of the Central Health Services Council, became Baron Cohen of Birkenhead in 1956 (dying with him in 1977)
  • Dr. Horace Evans, personal physician to George VI and Elizabeth II, became Baron Evans in 1957 (dying with him in 1963)
  • Russell Brain, an expert neurologist, author of Brain’s Diseases of the Nervous System and president of the Royal College of Physicians from 1950 to 1956, was made Baron Brain in 1962

Other luminaries ennobled included:

  • Sir Basil Brooke, Bt., Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1943 to 1963, made Viscount Brookeborough in July of 1952
  • Eustace Percy, President of the Board of Education from 1924 to 1929, was made Baron Percy of Newcastle in 1953 (dying with him in 1958)
  • Alfred Suenson-Taylor, a banker and Liberal Party organizer, became Baron Grantchester in 1953
  • Leslie Hore-Belisha, Minister of Transport under Stanley Baldwin and Secretary of War under Neville Chamberlain, was made Baron Hore-Belisha in 1954 (extinct on his death in 1957)
  • Sir Godfrey Huggins, Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia from 1933 to 1953, became Viscount Malvern in 1955
  • Arnold McNair, a Cambridge professor of international law and president of the European Court of Human Rights from 1959 to 1965, was made Baron McNair in 1955
  • Frederick Lindemann,1st Baron Cherwell, a top scientific advisor to Winston Churchill in WWII, became Viscount Cherwell in 1956 (the titles died with him the next year)
  • James Turner, president of the National Farmers’ Union from 1945 to 1960, became Baron Netherthorpe in 1959
  • Sir Evelyn Baring, governor of Southern Rhodesia from 1942 to 1944 and of Kenya from 1952 to 1959, was made Baron Howick of Glendale in 1960
  • Sir Wavell Wakefield, a professional rugby player, president of Harlequins FC from 1950 to 1980, and an MP from 1935 to 1963, became Baron Wakefield of Kendal in 1963 (dying with him in 1983)
  • John Wyndham, private secretary to prime minister Harold Macmillan (1957-63), was given the title Baron Egremont in 1963 (in 1967, he succeeded his father as the 6th Baron Leconfield)

A very peculiar peerage was awarded in 1961 to Urban Huttleston Broughton, 1st Baron Fairhaven, of Lode in the County of Cambridge, a millionaire and art collector. His father, Urban Hanlon Broughton, went to America and made a fortune in railway and mining interests, married into a rich family, then returned to England and served as the MP for Preston from 1915 to 1918, and became very close friends with prime minister Andrew Bonar Law. He was due to be given a peerage but died before it was finalized; the barony was instead given directly to Huttleston, his eldest son, in 1929. In 1961, Lord Fairhaven, by then old and childless, was given another peerage, that of the Baron Fairhaven, of Anglesey Abbey in the County of Cambridge; unlike the first title, this new title could be inherited by Huttleston’s brother, Henry, which he did when Huttleston died in 1966 and the Lode iteration of the Fairhaven title went extinct.

Around the time of Harold Macmillan’s long-overdue ennoblement in 1984, the government of Margaret Thatcher made a half-hearted attempt to revive the practice. It gave out two more peerages: William Whitelaw, who served as Thatcher’s Home Secretary from 1979 to 1983, Lord President of the Council from 1983 to 1988 and Deputy Prime Minister from 1979 to 1988, was made Viscount Whitelaw in 1983; and Thomas George Thomas, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1976 to 1983, was made Viscount Tonypandy in the year he stepped down. Neither man had a son and their titles died with them, Lord Tonypandy in 1997, Lord Whitelaw in 1999. No private British citizen since 1984 has been awarded a hereditary peerage.

A listing of extinct British peerages

The following is an annotated and thorough (but not explicitly encyclopedical) guide to

Extinct British Peerages

These listings show the last instance of the given title being used. Almost all titles have gone extinct at some point, only to be reassigned later. These are titles that have yet to be reassigned, with the year they went extinct.

* denotes a member of the Royal Family.

**denotes the title was annulled upon merger with the Crown, i.e. its holder became King.

~ denotes title is in abeyance; although legitimate claimants to the title may exist, it would be so difficult to prove descent that it would be practically impossible.

If I missed any, let me know in the comments!


Peerage of England/GB/UK

Duke of Warwick 1446

Duke of Clarence 1478*

Duke of Monmouth 1685

Duke of Buckingham 1687

Duke of Albemarle 1688

Duke of Ormonde 1715 (attainted) (1)

Duke of Shrewsbury 1718

Duke of Shomberg 1719

Duke of Wharton 1731

Duchess of Portsmouth 1734 (2)

Duke of Buckingham and Normanby 1735

Duke of Greenwich 1743

Duchess of Kendal 1743 (3)

Duke of Cumberland 1765*

Duke of Newcastle-upon-Tyne 1768

Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull 1773

Duke of Southampton 1774

Duke of Chandos 1789

Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn 1790*

Duke of Montagu 1790

Duke of Bolton 1794

Duke of Bridgewater 1803

Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven 1809

Duke of York and Albany 1827*

Duke of Clarence and St. Andrews 1830**

Duke of Sussex 1843*

Duke of Dorset 1843

Duchess of Inverness 1873 (4)

Duke of Buckingham and Chandos 1889

Duke of Cleveland 1891

Duke of Clarence and Avondale 1892*

Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale 1919* (Peerages Deprivation Act) (5)

Duke of Albany 1919* (Peerages Deprivation Act) (5)

Duke of Connaught and Strathearn 1943*

Duke of Leeds 1964

Duke of Windsor 1972*

Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne 1988

Duke of Portland 1990

Peerage of Scotland

Duke of Ross 1515*

Duke of Kintyre and Lorne 1602*

Duke of Rothes 1681

Duke of Lauderdale 1682

Duke of Douglas 1761

Peerage of Ireland

Duke of Ormonde 1758 (de jure) (1)


Peerage of England/GB/UK

Marquess of Berkeley 1492

Marquess of Pembroke 1536* (6)

Marquess of Halifax 1700

Marquess of Harwich 1719

Marquess of Powis 1748

Marquess of Dorchester 1773

Marquess of Rockingham 1782

Marquess Grey 1797

Marquess Cornwallis 1823

Marquess of Dalhousie 1860

Marquess of Hastings 1868

Marquess of Breadalbane 1922

Marquess of Ripon 1923

Marquess Curzon of Kedleston 1925

Marquess of Lincolnshire 1928

Marquess of Crewe 1945

Marquess of Carisbrooke 1960*

Marquess of Carmarthen 1964

Marquess of Willingdon 1979

Marquess of Cambridge 1981*

Marquess of Dufferin and Ava 1988

Marquess of Ormonde 1997

Peerage of Scotland

Marquess of Annandale 1792

Marquess of Ormond 1625**

Peerage of Ireland

Marquess of Antrim 1791

Marquess of Ormonde 1820

Marquess Wellesley 1842

Marquess of Thomond 1855

Marquess of Westmeath 1871

Marquess of Drogheda 1892

Marquess of Clanricarde 1916


Peerage of England/GB/UK

Earl of Cornwall 1336

Earl of Hereford 1373~

Earl of Totnes 1629

Earl of Banbury 1632

Earl of Cumberland 1643

Earl Rivers 1650

Earl of Cleveland 1667

Earl of Dover 1677

Earl of Newport 1679

Earl of Conway 1683

Earl of St. Albans 1684

Earl of Buckingham 1687

Earl of Oxford 1703~

Earl of Bolingbroke 1711

Earl of Torrington 1716

Earl of Brentford 1719

Earl Castleton 1723

Earl of Godolphin 1731

Earl of Scarsdale 1736

Earl of Wilmington 1743

Earl of Rockingham 1746

Earl Clinton 1751

Earl of Rochester 1753

Earl of Grantham 1754

Earl FitzWalter 1756

Earl of Holland 1759

Earl of Anglesey 1761

Earl Coningsby 1761

Earl of Stafford 1762

Earl of Southampton 1774

Earl of Holderness 1778

Countess of Walsingham 1778 (7)

Earl Lingonier 1782

Earl of Malton 1782

Earl of Northington 1786

Earl Beaulieu 1802

Earl Fauconburg 1802

Earl of Dorchester 1808

Earl of Bath 1808

Earl of Peterborough 1814

Earl of Monmouth 1814

Earl of St. Vincent 1823

Earl Whitworth 1825

Earl of Bridgewater 1829

Earl of Rochford 1830

Earl Harcourt 1830

Earl of Chatham 1835

Earl of Norwich 1836

Earl of Dorset 1843

Earl of Middlesex 1843

Earl of Egremont 1845

Earl of Thanet 1849

Earl of Auckland 1849

Earl of Falmouth 1852

Earl Cornwallis 1852

Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer 1853 (8)

Earl Digby 1856

Earl FitzHardinge 1857

Earl of Harborough 1859

Earl Canning 1862

Earl of Pomfret 1867

Earl of Ellenborough 1871

Earl of Beaconsfield 1881

Earl of Warrington 1883

Earl Somers 1883

Earl of St. Maur 1885

Earl of Redesdale 1886

Earl Sydney 1890

Earl of Darlington 1891

Earl of Kent 1900*

Earl of Ravensworth 1904

Earl Cowper 1905

Earl de Montalt 1905

Earl Egerton 1909

Earl Brassey 1919

Earl Brownlow 1921

Earl Farquhar 1923

Earl Loreburn 1923

Earl of Ashburnham 1924

Earl of Northbrook 1929

Earl of Lathom 1930

Earl of Orford 1931

Earl of Camperdown 1933

Earl of Dartrey 1933

Earl Buxton 1934

Earl of Londesborough 1937

Countess Cave of Richmond 1938 (9)

Earl of Berkeley 1942

Earl of Sussex 1943*

Earl Wavell 1953

Earl Manvers 1955

Earl Roberts 1955

Earl Jowitt 1957

Earl of Athlone 1957*

Earl of Feversham 1963

Earl of Danby 1964

Earl Alexander of Hillsborough 1965

Earl of Chesterfield 1967

Earl Stanhope 1967

Earl of Kilmuir 1967

Earl Poulett 1973

Earl of Stamford 1976

Earl of Midleton 1979

Earl Beauchamp 1979

Earl of Ancaster 1983

Earl of Birkenhead 1985

Earl of Avon 1985

Earl of Ypres 1988

Earl Amherst 1993

Earl Sondes 1996

Earl of Munster 2000

Earl of Halsbury 2010

Earl Kitchener of Khartoum 2011

Peerage of Scotland

Earl of Ross 1625**

Earl of Irvine 1645

Earl of Dirletoun 1650

Earl of Forth 1651

Earl of Annandale 1658

Earl of Teviot 1664

Earl of Downe 1668

Earl of Hartfell 1672

Earl of Tarras 1693

Earl of Airth 1694

Earl of Menteith 1694

Earl of Melfort 1695 (attainted) (10)

Earl of Middleton 1695 (attainted) (10)

Earl of Forfar 1715

Earl of Ormond 1715

Earl of Panmure 1716 (attainted) (11)

Earl of Kilmarnock 1746 (attainted) (12)

Earl of Wigtown 1747

Earl of Dumbarton 1749

Earl of Marchmont 1794

Earl of Deloraine 1807

Earl of Ruglen 1810

Earl of Findlater 1811

Earl of Portmore 1835

Earl of Traquair 1861

Earl of Carnwath 1941

Peerage of Ireland

Earl of Leinster 1659

Earl of Gowran 1677

Earl of Ardglass 1687

Earl of Castlemaine 1705

Earl of Ranelagh 1711

Earl of Carbery 1713

Earl of Galway 1720

Earl of Carlingford 1738

Earl of Mount Alexander 1757

Earl of Catherlough 1772

Earl of Thomond 1774

Earl of Castlehaven 1777

Earl of Seaforth 1781

Earl Panmure 1782

Earl of Ely 1783

Earl of Shipbrook 1783

Earl Tylney 1784

Earl Wandesford 1784

Earl Verney 1791

Earl of Clanbrassil 1798

Earl of Louth 1799

Earl of Bellomont 1800

Earl Grandison 1800

Earl of Mountrath 1802

Earl of Clermont 1806

Earl Macartney 1806

Earl of Belvedere 1814

Earl of Glandore 1815

Earl of Massereene1816

Earl of Upper Ossory 1818

Earl of Barrymore 1823

Earl of Farnham 1823

Earl of Blessington 1829

Earl of Carhampton 1829

Earl Landaff 1833

Earl O’Neill 1841

Earl Ludlow 1842

Earl of Athlone 1844

Earl of Mountnorris 1844

Earl of Kilkenny 1846

Earl of Rathdowne 1848

Earl of Roscommon 1850

Earl of Tyrconnell 1853

Earl of Glengall 1858

Earl of Clare 1864

Earl of Charleville 1875

Earl of Aldborough 1875

Earl Nugent 1889

Earl of Bantry 1891

Earl of Milltown 1891

Earl of Charlemont 1892

Earl of Carysfort 1909

Earl of Howth 1909

Earl Fife 1912

Earl Mount Cashell 1915

Earl of Desart 1934

Earl of Clonmell 1935

Earl of Kenmare  1952

Earl of Leitrim 1952

Earl of Sefton 1972

Earl of Wicklow 1978

Earl of Bandon 1979

Earl Fitzwilliam 1979

Earl of Fingall 1984

Earl of Ormonde 1997

Earl of Lanesborough 1998

Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl 2011

Earl of Egmont 2011


Peerage of England/GB/UK

Viscount Lovell 1488? (13)

Viscount Welles 1498

Viscount Beaumont 1507

Viscount Howard of Bindon 1611

Viscount St Alban 1626

Viscount Dorchester 1632

Viscount Wimbledon 1638

Viscount Bayning of Sudbury 1638

Viscount Purbeck 1657

Viscount Stafford 1680 (attainted) (14)

Viscount Lisle 1743

Viscount Lonsdale 1751

Viscount Hatton 1762

Viscount Saye and Sele 1781

Viscount Keppel 1786

Viscount Montagu 1797

Viscount Nelson 1805

Viscount Fauconberg 1815

Viscount Keith 1823

Viscount Courtenay of Powderham 1835

Viscount Lake 1848

Viscount Ponsonby 1855

Viscount Beresford 1856

Viscount Maynard 1865

Viscountess Beaconsfield 1872 (15)

Viscount Ossington 1873

Viscount Stratford de Redcliffe 1880

Viscount Hughenden 1881

Viscount Cardwell 1886

Viscount Lyons 1887

Viscount Eversley 1888

Viscount Sherbrooke 1892

Viscount Oxenbridge 1898

Viscount Llandaff 1913

Viscount Alverstone 1915

Viscount Sandhurst 1921

Viscount Bryce 1922

Viscount Northcliffe 1922

Viscount Morley of Blackburn 1923

Viscount Pirrie 1924

Viscount Milner 1925

Viscount Cave of Richmond 1928

Viscount Haldane 1928

Viscount Gladstone 1930

Viscount Grey of Fallodon 1933

Viscount Burnham 1933

Viscount Novar 1934

Viscount Sumner 1934

Viscount Byng of Vimy 1935

Viscount Wolseley 1936

Viscount Snowden 1937

Viscount Horne of Slamannan 1940

Viscount Canterbury 1941

Viscount D’Abernon 1941

Viscount Wakefield 1941

Viscount Dunedin 1942

Viscount Wolverhampton 1943

Viscount Plumer 1944

Viscount Dawson of Penn 1945

Viscount Finlay 1945

Viscount Southwood 1946

Viscount Bennett 1947

Viscount Lee of Fareham 1947

Viscount Sankey 1948

Viscount Tredegar 1949

Viscount Bertie of Thame 1954

Viscount Cherwell 1957

Viscount Bracken 1958

Viscount Cecil of Chelwood 1958

Viscount Rhondda 1958

Viscount Ruffside 1958

Viscount Templewood 1959

Viscount Cilcennin 1960

Viscount Crookshank 1961

Viscount Elibank 1962

Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent 1962

Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope 1963

Viscount Hudson 1963

Viscount Hyndley 1963

Viscount Nuffield 1963

Viscount Hewart 1964

Viscount Bruce of Melbourne 1967

Viscount Portal of Hungerford 1971

Viscount Simonds 1971

Viscount Radcliffe 1977

Viscount Harcourt 1979

Viscount Amory 1981

Viscount Chaplin 1981

Viscount Maugham 1981

Viscount Hall 1985

Viscount Ward of Witley 1988

Viscount Muirshiel 1992

Viscount Monsell 1993

Viscount Furness 1995

Viscount Watkinson 1995

Viscount Tonypandy 1997

Viscount Lambert 1999

Viscount Whitelaw 1999

Viscount Leverhulme 2000

Viscount Greenwood 2003

Viscount Cross 2004

Viscount Ingleby 2008

Peerage of Scotland

Viscount of Melgum 1630

Viscount of Belhaven 1639

Viscount Aboyne 1649

Viscount Teviot 1711

Viscount Newhaven 1728

Viscount Preston 1739

Viscount of Primrose 1741

Viscount of Irvine 1778

Viscount of Kenmure 1847~

Peerage of Ireland

Viscount Clontarf 1547

Viscount Butler of Tulleophelim 1613

Viscount Somerset 1649

Viscount Monson 1660 (degraded) (16)

Viscount Bellomont 1667

Viscount Baltinglass 1672

Viscount Tara 1674

Viscount Ogle 1682

Viscount Brouncker 1688

Viscount Hewett 1689

Viscount Clanmalier 1691

Viscount Chaworth 1693

Viscount Beaumont of Swords 1702

Viscount Decies 1704

Viscount Carrington 1706

Viscount Fitzhardinge 1712

Viscount Fanshawe 1716

Viscount Scudamore 1716

Viscount Blesington 1732

Viscount Micklethwaite 1734

Viscount Shannon 1740

Viscount Tyrconnel 1754

Viscount Blundell 1756

Viscount Fane 1766

Viscount Fairfax of Emley 1772

Viscount Clare 1788

Viscount Vane  1789

Viscount Langford 1796

Viscount Tracy 1797

Viscount Wenman 1800

Viscount Bateman 1802

Viscount Longueville 1811

Viscount Bulkeley 1822

Viscount Newcomen 1825

Viscount Carleton 1826

Viscount Clermont 1829

Viscount Kilwarden 1830

Viscount FitzWilliam 1833

Viscount Barnewall 1834

Viscount Castlemaine 1839

Viscount Preston 1842

Viscount Allen 1845

Viscount Carlingford 1853

Viscount Melbourne 1853

Viscount Dungannon 1855

Viscount O’Neill 1855

Viscount Palmerston 1865

Viscount Strangford 1869

Viscount Netterville 1882

Viscount Ranelagh 1885

Viscount Lismore 1898

Viscount Cullen 1938

Viscount Mount Cashell 1915

Viscount Frankfort de Montmorency 1917

Viscount Mountmorres 1951

Viscount Guillamore 1955

Viscount Clifden 1974

Viscount Templetown 1981

Viscount Barrington 1990

Viscount Lanesborough 1998

Baronies and Lordships of Parliament

Peerage of England/GB/UK

Baron Montagu 1538 (attainted) (17)

Baron Belasyse 1713

Baron Torrington 1719

Baron Lechmere 1727

Baron Lansdowne 1735

Baron Mansel 1750

Baron Raymond 1756

Baron Anson 1762

Baron Melcombe 1762

Baron Langdale of Holme 1777

Baron Archer 1778

Baron Hume of Berwick 1794

Baron Perth 1800

Baron Camelford 1804

Baron Chedworth 1804

Baron Delaval 1808

Baron Collingwood 1810

Baron Heathfield 1813

Baron Stawell 1820

Baron Glastonbury 1825

Baron Amesbury 1832

Baron Gambier 1833

Baron Grenville 1834

Baron de Dunstanville 1835

Baron Stowell 1836

Baron Selsey 1838

Baron Sydenham 1841

Baron Rolle 1842

Baron Lynedoch 1843

Baron Wallace 1844

Baron Western 1844

Baron Montagu of Boughton 1845

Baron Stuart de Rothesay 1845

Baron Metcalfe 1846

Baron Carteret 1849

Baron Bexley 1851

Baron Langdale 1851

Baron Dinorben 1852

Baron Colborne 1854

Baron Basset 1855

Baron Alvanley 1857

Baron Macaulay 1859

Baron Clyde 1863

Baron Lyndhurst 1863

Baron Bayning 1864

Baron Glenelg 1866

Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly 1866

Baron Kingsdown 1867

Baron Llanover 1867

Baron Dunfermline 1868

Baron Broughton 1869

Baron Taunton 1869

Baron Wenman 1870

Baron Dalling and Bulwer 1872

Baron Marjoribanks 1873

Baron Colonsay 1874

Baron Stuart de Decies 1874

Baron Lisgar 1876

Baron Lanerton 1880

Baron Rivers 1880

Baron Hanmer 1881

Baron Hatherley 1881

Baron Overstone 1883

Baron Strathnairn 1885

Baron Farnborough 1886

Baron Waveney 1886

Baron Northwick 1887

Baron Blachford 1889

Baron Crewe 1894

Baron de Tabley 1895

Baron Dover 1899

Baron Penzance 1899

Baron Truro 1899

Baron Keane 1901

Baroness Burdett-Coutts 1906 (18)

Baron Kelvin 1907

Baron Lister 1912

Baron Gwydyr 1915

Baron Kesteven 1915

Baron FitzHardinge 1916

Baron Colchester 1919

Baron Seaforth 1923

Baron Abercromby 1924

Baron Ribblesdale 1925

Baron Bateman 1931

Baron Emly 1932

Baron Wenlock 1932

Baron Castletown 1937

Baron Tenterden 1939

Baron Alington 1940

Baron Bingley 1947

Baron Berwick 1953

Baron Seaton 1955

Baron Egerton 1958

Baron Tredegar 1962

Baron Dorchester 1963

Baron Nugent 1973

Baron Romilly 1983

Baron Ormathwaite 1984

Baron St Leonards 1985

Baron Sherborne 1985

Baron Greville 1987

Baron Lurgan 1991

Baron Calthorpe 1997

Peerage of Scotland

Lord Lyle 1551

Lord Haliburton of Dirleton 1584 (attainted) (19)

Lord Pittenweem 1625

Lord Barrett of Newburgh 1645

Lord Ochiltree 1675

Lord Abercrombie 1681

Lord Cramond 1735

Lord Balmerino 1746 (attainted) (20)

Lord Coupar 1746 (attainted) (20)

Lord Oliphant 1748

Lord Aston of Forfar 1751 (disputed; possibly 1845) (21)

Lord Ross 1754

Lord Cranstoun 1869

Lord Duffus 1875

Lord Blantyre 1900

Lord Kinnaird 1997

Peerage of Ireland

Baron Portlester 1496

Baron Glean-O’Mallun 1622

Baron Balfour of Glenawley 1636

Baron Hervey 1642

Baron Esmonde 1646

Baron Dockwra 1647

Baron Chichester of Belfast 1675

Baron Bourke of Brittas 1691 (attainted) (22)

Baron Bourke of Castleconnell 1691 (attainted) (22)

Baron Herbert of Castle Island 1691

Baron Shelburne 1696

Baron Cutts 1707

Baron Gorges of Dundalk 1712

Baron Folliott 1716

Baron Brereton 1722

Baron Ferrard 1731

Baron Darcy of Navan 1733

Baron Wyndham 1745

Baron Barry of Santry 1751

Baron Sundon 1752

Baron Ranelagh 1754

Baron Kingsborough 1755

Baron Blakeney 1761

Baron Bellew of Duleek 1770

Baron Baltimore 1771

Baron St George 1775

Baron de Montalt 1777

Baron Pigot 1777

Baron Eyre 1781

Baron Fortescue of Credan 1781

Baron Tracton 1782

Baron Waltham 1787

Baron Hawley 1790

Baron Newhaven 1794

Baron Holmes 1804

Baron Lavington 1807

Baroness Fermanagh 1810 (23)

Baron Lecale 1810

Baron Callan 1815

Baron Tara 1821

Baron Tyrawley 1821

Baron Glenbervie 1823

Baron Keith 1823

Baron Eardley 1824

Baron Whitworth 1825

Baron Hartland 1845

Baron Mount Sandford 1846

Baron Rancliffe 1850

Baron Montfort 1851

Baron FitzGerald and Vesey 1860

Baron Riversdale 1861

Baron Downes 1863

Baron Howden 1873

Baron Blayney 1874

Baron Ongley 1877

Baron Bloomfield 1879

Baron Rokeby 1883

Baron Sydney 1890

Baron Clermont 1898

Baron Dunsandle and Clanconal 1911

Baron Muncaster 1917

Baron de Blaquiere 1920

Baron Wallscourt 1920

Baron Clonbrock 1926

Baron Athlumney 1929

Baron Cloncurry 1929

Baron Clarina 1952

Baron Radstock 1953

Baron Pierrepont 1955

Baron Teignmouth 1981

Baron Headley 1994


(1) James Butler, 12th Earl of Ormonde, was made Duke of Ormonde in the peerages of England and Ireland for his service fighting Cromwell’s forces in Ireland for the Royalists. His son, the 2nd duke, was stripped of his titles for his support of the First Jacobite Rebellion in 1715 by a bill of attainder (an act of parliament that declares a person guilty of a crime and imposes punishment). However, a court case in 1791 involving the 17th Earl of Ormonde found the bill only applied to the Duke’s English titles, and not his Irish ones. This means the 2nd Duke’s brother Charles had been de jure the 3rd Duke of Ormonde in the Irish peerage, though he made no claim to it in his life. The dukedom died with him in 1758.

(2) A mistress of Charles II, she was given the title in her own right, and died with her.

(3) A mistress of George I, she was given the title in her own right, and died with her.

(4) The second wife of Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex, their marriage contravened the Royal Marriages Act of 1774 and she was therefore not allowed to be styled a princess or the Duchess of Sussex. Queen Victoria granted her the title of Duchess of Inverness after Sussex’s death.

(5) The Peerages Deprivation Act of 1917 permits Parliament to strip peers of their titles if they side with an enemy country in wartime. This was applied in 1919 to the Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale (King of Hanover and grandson of Victoria’s uncle Prince Ernest) and the Duke of Albany (Prince of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and son of Victoria’s fourth son Prince Leopold), who sided with Germany in World War I. However, the terms of the Act state that their heirs may petition Parliament for the restoration of their titles.

(6) Henry VIII made Anne Boleyn the Marquess of Pembroke shortly before their marriage, the first English woman made a peer in her own right. The title was either forfeited on her conviction for treason in 1536 or died out upon her execution that same year, but some scholars argue it merged with the Crown when she became Queen in 1533.

(7) George I’s illegitimate daughter with the Duchess of Kendal.

(8)The title’s name is “Oxford and Earl Mortimer”, due to the outstanding claim by relatives of the de Vere family that legitimate heirs of the Earldom of Oxford, dormant since 1703, may still exist.

(9) Sir George Cave served as Home Secretary under Lloyd George and became the 1st Viscount Cave in 1918. He then served as Lord Chancellor  under Baldwin from 1922 to 1924 and 1924 to 1928. His candidacy for an earldom was declared in 1928 upon receipt of his resignation as Lord Chancellor. Cave announced his resignation on 28 March 1928, to be approved the following day. However, on 29 March 1928 Cave died at his home in Somerset. it was decided to give the earldom to his widow, which went extinct when she died childless in 1938.

(10) The earls of Melfort and Middleton were attainted for their continued support of James II after the Glorious Revolution. They went with him in exile to France and continued to advise the Old Pretender.

(11) Attainted for opposing George I in the First Jacobite Rebellion.

(12) The 4th Earl of Kilmarnock was attainted and executed in 1746 for his support of the Second Jacobite Rebellion.

(13) The 1st Viscount Lovell was a lifelong friend and supporter of Richard III, and fled England after Richard’s defeat at Bosworth Field in 1485; the last known record of his existence is a letter from James IV of Scotland offering him safe passage, dating from 1488. The year and circumstances of his death are totally unknown, although it is certain he left no legitimate male heirs.

(14) Lord Stafford was attainted and executed in 1680 after being found guilty of conspiring to assassinate Charles II, a victim of the larger conspiracy of anti-Catholic hysteria fabricated by the clergyman Titus Oates now known as the Popish Plot. Oates was later found guilty of perjury and imprisoned.

(15) Queen Victoria bestowed the title of Viscountess Beaconsfield upon Mary Disraeli so she could enjoy the social benefits of the peerage without her husband, prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, giving up his seat in the House of Commons. Benjamin Disraeli was created Earl of Beaconsfield in 1876, four years after Mary’s death.

(16) The Viscount Monson was one of the judicial commissioners to sign the death warrant of Charles I in 1649. Upon the Restoration in 1660 Parliament passed the Act of Indemnity and Oblivion, which named Lord Monson, among others, as being responsible for the regicide of Charles I. For this crime he was degraded from his titles (as he had no heir, they went extinct) and sentenced to life imprisonment, where he died in 1672.

(17) Henry Pole, 1st Baron Montagu, was attainted in 1538 and executed in 1539 by Henry VIII, ostensibly for treason but more likely because Pole was one of the few surviving Plantagenets and therefore a legitimate claimant to the throne. His brother, Reginald Pole, was the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury and had already fled England for opposing the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

(18) Angela Burdett-Coutts was made a baroness by Queen Victoria in 1871 in recognition of her many charitable works, one of the very few times a hereditary peerage was awarded to a woman entirely on her own merits.

(19) William Ruthven, 1st Earl of Gowrie and 9th Lord Haliburton of Dirleton, was attainted and executed in 1534 for his role in leading the Ruthven Raid, a plan to abduct James VI of Scotland and impose reforms on the Scottish government.

(20) Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerino and 5th Lord Coupar, was attainted and executed in 1746 for his support of the Second Jacobite Rebellion.

(21) Most authorities agree that the lordship of Aston of Forfar died with the 5th lord in 1751. The lordship is believed theoretically to have then passed on to a descendant of the 1st lord’s uncle, although this descendant never laid claim to the title. The last possible claimant to the lordship died in 1845.

(22) The 3rd Baron Bourke of Brittas and his cousin the 8th Baron Bourke of Castleconnell were attainted in 1691 for opposing William III during the Glorious Revolution.

(23) Mary Verney was the posthumous daughter of the younger son of the 1st Earl Verney, and was created a peer to preserve her social standing. She never married and the title died with her.

The British Crown Jewels

Crown Jewels

The main crown jewels of the United Kingdom: St. Edward’s Crown, Anointing Spoon, Ampulla, Imperial State Crown, Orb, Armills, Spurs, Coronation Ring, Sceptre with Cross, Chalice, Sceptre with Dove, Paten, and Jewelled Sword of Offering.

The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom is probably the most famous assemblage of valuable things in the world. It was started so long ago – by mediaeval kings wanting a cache of easily-pawnable things to get some quick warrin’/feastin’/castle-buildin’ money – that although it’s agreed they’re property of the nebulous legal entity that is the Crown of the United Kingdom, nobody agrees who, exactly, the jewels’ fate is ultimately controlled by. It could the Queen, or the government, or Parliament, or the people, or maybe even God Himself.

Nobody seems to have any idea what their cash value is, either; they HAVE been valued for insurance purposes, but the numbers are kept top secret. The biggest gem in the batch, the Cullinan I Diamond (a.k.a. the Great Star of Africa) in the Sceptre with the Cross, is believed to be worth £400 million, and most estimates for the whole set range from 3 to 5 billion pounds.

Until the 14th century the Crown Jewels were kept in Westminster Abbey. After a number of theft attempts they were moved to the Tower of London in 1303 and placed in the care of the janitor until 1677, when someone mugged the janitor and stole the jewels. They were then shown to the public in a room with armed guards. Visitors could actually handle the jewels until a crazy person broke a crown in 1815, and after that they instituted a no-touching policy.

Bear in mind that there is only a narrow set of items that constitutes the Crown Jewels, mostly coronation-themed bric-a-brac. Most of the fancy tiaras and brooches and earrings and whatnot that the Queen’s always seen wearing to dinners or churches are her personal property, mostly family heirlooms from Queens Victoria, Alexandra and Mary.

This is a pretty complete listing of the stuff that consists of the British Crown Jewels. Most of it only dates back to the 1660s because Oliver Cromwell had the old collection smashed up and sold off. The most valuable piece of the old Crown Jewels, the Tudor State Crown, fetched £1100 in 1649, or about £1,740,000 in today’s money.

The Crowns: Regnant

There have been various crowns throughout British history, since most kings had new ones made, melted down, made for their queens, etc.

Tudor Crown

Artist’s impression of the Tudor Crown

The last English crown before the Protectorate was the Tudor Crown, which was commissioned (possibly) by Henry VII and worn (definitely) by Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I and St. Charles I. It was used as the principal stylistic model for symbols of the legal Crown for Britain, the Commonwealth and the Empire from Edward VII to George VI. The emblem was changed to an icon of St. Edward’s Crown by Elizabeth II.

St. Edward's Crown

St. Edward’s Crown

St. Edward’s Crown is the oldest existing and most famous English crown. It was commissioned by Charles II for his coronation in 1661 and built of solid gold. The design was based on the crown its namesake, St. Edward the Confessor, wore at Christmas of 1065 and used to coronate William I as King of England on Christmas of 1066. A man named Thomas Blood stole it in 1671 and flattened it with a mallet to hide it better. (Thomas Blood had a happy ending: Charles II pardoned him and gave him a pension worth £500 per year.) William III hand the opening bent into a skull-like oval shape in 1689; before that it had been a perfect circle. William III was also the last king to be crowned with it for 222 years, until George V. Until 1911 it was undecorated most of the time, and whenever it was needed for a coronation someone went out and rented some jewels to put on it. The jewels were bought and set on permanently by George V. It was used for the coronation of George VI and Elizabeth II, and is kept in the Tower of London.

Imperial State Crown

Imperial State Crown

The crown that the Queen wears to the state openings of Parliament is the Imperial State Crown, which was made for George VI in 1937 off a pattern from a crown made in 1838 for Queen Victoria’s coronation and later used for the coronation of Edward VII (the bare frame of this 1838 crown is still kept in the Tower of London). It has a lot of very old and valuable gems, including sapphires belonging to St. Edward the Confessor and Alexander II of Scotland, a ruby from Edward the Black Prince, pearls from Elizabeth I and the Cullinan II diamond.

George IV State Diadem

A stamp of Elizabeth II from the Machin series showing the George IV State Diadem. (C) Royal Mail.

The crown that the Queen is usually shown wearing on coins and on the iconic series of British stamps designed by Arnold Machin is the George IV State Diadem, made in 1820 for George IV to wear as he entered Westminster Abbey during his needlessly elaborate coronation ceremony. Ever since, it’s been usually worn as a “travelling” crown: Victoria and Elizabeth II wore the Diadem while leaving the Abbey, and the Queen wears it on the processions leading to the State Opening of Parliament.

Victoria's Small Diamond Crown

A photograph of Queen Victoria wearing her Small Diamond Crown.

That tiny crown that was so often worn by the old Queen Victoria is officially named “the Small Diamond Crown of Queen Victoria“. She had it made of silver and over 1100 diamonds in 1870 to fit better over the top of her widow’s veils, and first wore it to the state opening of Parliament in 1871. It was the crown put on her coffin at her funeral, and she left it in her will to the Crown Jewels. It was worn by Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, but by no-one else since.

Crown of George I

The empty frame of the State Crown of George I.

George I had a new crown (the State Crown of George I) made for ordinary kingly use in 1714 to replace that of Charles II, and had it decorated with coloured glass instead of gems. The glass was replaced with rented diamonds for the coronation of George II in 1727, and was later used for the coronation of George III in 1761 and of William IV in 1831. In 1815 a madwoman came to see it at the Tower of London and damaged it severely, after which visitors were no longer able to handle the Crown Jewels. It was worn by Victoria to the state opening of Parliament in 1837; she sold its empty frame to the crown jewellers in 1838. They gave it back in 1995 and is now in the Tower of London.

Coronation Crown of George IV

The empty frame of the Coronation Crown of George IV.

The extravagant and opulent King George IV had a new gold and silver crown made for his George IV Coronation Crown in 1820, of his own design. He had wanted to eliminate the traditional French fleurs-de-lis on British crowns and replace them with roses, thistles and shamrocks, but was vetoed by the College of Heralds. (George IV fought for symbols of British unity: he was the first king to wear a kilt since the 2nd Jacobite Rebellion and the first to visit Ireland since the Battle of the Boyne.) The crown was slathered with over 12,000 diamonds, which the king was unable to convince Parliament to buy outright and were returned in 1823, leaving the crown empty (and later sold to the crown jewellers in 1838) until it was reset with diamonds on loan from De Beers in 1996, after its return to the Crown Jewels the previous year.

Crown of India

The Imperial Crown of India.

The last crown made for a King was the Imperial Crown of India, which is not actually part of the Crown Jewels as a legal entity, since the Crown Jewels can’t leave Britain. It was made in 1911 for £60,000 (about £5.2 million in 2013) for George V to wear to the Delhi Durbar, where he received his subjects as Emperor of India. It weighed more than two pounds and hasn’t been worn since the Durbar; it is kept at the Tower of London.

The Crowns: Consort

Mary of Modena's crowns

The State Crown and Diadem of Queen Mary of Modena.

Most of the crowns in the Crown Jewels were made for queen consorts. The oldest of these is the State Crown of Mary of Modena, wife of James II (and VII) made in 1685. It was occasionally worn by Mary II and Anne, and was the coronation crown of the consorts of King Georges I, II and III, but as George IV’s wife was not crowned and a new crown was made for the wife of William IV, the crown fell out of use. The Diadem of Mary of Modena was made concurrently for the coronation procession, and was worn in the coronation processions of Mary II, Anne, and possibly the wife of George II (accounts are vague), but has not been used since.

Crown of Adelaide

The empty frame of the Crown of Queen Adelaide.

The Crown of Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV, was made in 1831 for her coronation, emptied of its jewels soon thereafter, sold to the crown jewellers and not worn since. (The jewellers returned it to Elizabeth II in 1995, at the same time as the crowns of George I and George IV.)

The Crown of Queen Alexandra

The Crown of Queen Alexandra.

The Crown of Queen Alexandra was made in 1902 for the wife of Edward VII in the first crowning of a queen consort in 71 years. It was squatter than most British crowns and had four arches instead of the usual two, making it much more like the crowns of Continental kingdoms. The Koh-i-Noor diamond was set into it at the coronation, and the crown set the precedent of having detachable arches so the crown could also be worn as a circlet. It was set with paste gems (gems made of flint glass) and is on display at the Tower of London.

Crown of Queen Mary

The Crown of Queen Mary of Teck.

The Crown of Queen Mary, four-arched like its predecessor, was made for the wife of George V in 1911 and set with the Koh-i-Noor diamond, along with the Cullinan III and Cullinan IV diamonds, on Coronation Day, all replaced with crystal models in 1914. It has not been worn since Queen Mary died in 1953.

Crown of Queen Elizabeth

The Crown of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

The Crown of Queen Elizabeth was made for the Queen Mother for the coronation of George VI in 1937. It is the only British crown made of platinum, and returned to the traditional two-arch pattern for British crowns. Since it was made it has been the place of rest for the Koh-i-Noor diamond. (The diamond was stolen from the Sikh Empire by the British East India Company in 1850 and given to Queen Victoria in 1877 after being proclaimed Empress of India. It is said to curse any man who wears it, but not any woman, which is why it is worn by consorts.) It is now with the other crowns in the Tower of London.

The Coronets

Most of the coronets in the Tower of London are not really for the Sovereign, or Britain, or part of the Crown Jewels: they’re for the Prince of Wales, and are the centrepieces of the Honours of the Principality of Wales. Unlike crowns, the coronets only have one arch that goes across the head sideways.

Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales

Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

The oldest of the coronets of Wales is the Coronet of Frederick, Prince of Wales, made in 1728 for the son of George II, who was the father of George III. Frederick died in 1751 before he inherited the throne, and the coronet was worn by the Princes of Wales that became George III, George IV and Edward VII.

Coronet of George, Prince of Wales

Coronet of George, Prince of Wales.

In 1902 the old coronet had gotten fragile and so the Coronet of George, Prince of Wales was made for the future George V. When he took his seat in the House of Lords it was borne before him on a cushion, a practice subsequently used by his son Edward, the future Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor. After abdicating in 1936 Edward took the coronet with him to France (a possibly illegal action that was never prosecuted) and wasn’t returned to the Jewel Collection until his death in 1972. It’s now at the Tower with the Coronet of Frederick.

Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales

Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales.

Since the Coronet of George was not available for the Investiture of the Prince of Wales of Prince Charles in 1969, a new one, the Coronet of Charles, Prince of Wales, was made instead. It had a crazy futuristic design by the artist Louis Osman and is now on loan to the National Museum and Gallery of Wales in Cardiff. It’s generally believed that future princes will revert to the George coronet.

Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret wearing their coronets

At middle, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret wearing their coronets at the coronation of George VI in 1937.

Outside of those for Wales, two more little coronets were made for George VI’s daughters at his coronation in 1937. The Coronets of Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret are not on display and believed to be in a vault somewhere in Buckingham Palace.

The Swords

There are five swords in the collection of the Crown Jewels.

Great Sword of State

The Great Sword of State.

The Great Sword of State was made in 1678 for Charles II. Its hilt is shaped like a lion and a unicorn, and has a red velvet scabbard. The Earl Marshal carries the Great Sword beside the Queen at state openings of Parliament. The sword weighs 5 1/4 pounds, or 7 lbs 5 oz with the scabbard.

Jeweled Sword

The Jeweled Sword of Offering.

While all five swords are carried in the coronation procession, the only sword presented to the new monarch by the Archbishop of Canterbury to symbolize his or her power taken from man and God alike is the Jewelled Sword of Offering. It was made for George IV’s coronation in 1821. The hilt and the scabbard are solid gold and encrusted with gems, and the blade is finely engraved Damascus steel. (Damascus steel was the H-bomb of the Crusades. It was actually made in Persia from wootz steel made in India, and forged in such a way that it created carbon nanotubes in the steel 2500 years before anyone knew what nanotubes were.) It is probably the most valuable edged weapon on Earth, and likely costs as much as a Predator drone.

Other swords

L to R: the Sword of Spiritual Justice, The Sword of Mercy, The Sword of Temporal Justice

The Sword of Spiritual Justice, the Sword of Temporal Justice, and the Sword of Mercy became part of  the coronation rigamarole for Charles I in 1626, and the current artefacts are from Charles II. The Sword of Mercy, or Edward the Confessor’s Sword, has a squared-off end, to symbolize mercy tempering the sharpness of justice; the sword’s design comes from the old French legend of Ogier the Dane, whose sword, Curtana, could only be drawn in mercy and not in vengeance. The three swords are plain steel with simple gold hilts, rather Arthurian-looking. The Sword of Mercy is 3’2″ long; the other two are 3’10” and 3’9″ respectively.

The Sceptres

There are two sceptres of the Crown of the UK, and right as the crown is placed on the monarch’s head at the coronation, he or she has one in each hand.

The top of the Sceptre with the Cross.

Edward VII in 1902 and George VI in 1937 with the Sceptre with the Cross, before and after the addition of the Great Star of Africa

Edward VII in 1902 and George VI in 1937 with the Sceptre with the Cross, before and after the addition of the Great Star of Africa

The Sceptre with the Cross, alias the Royal Sceptre, alias the Sovereign’s Sceptre, alias St. Edward’s Sceptre, was made in 1661 for Charles II and represents the Crown’s temporal authority. In 1905 the tip of it was redesigned to fit the Great Star of Africa, alias the Cullinan I diamond, which weighs a quarter of a pound and costs about five times the annual operating revenue of the New York Times.

The top of the Sceptre with the Dove.

The Sceptre with the Dove, alias the Rod with the Dove, alias the Rod of Equity and Mercy, was made at the same time as the other one and represents spiritual authority. The dove at the tip represents the Holy Ghost.

The Queen Consort's Sceptre with the Cross.

The Queen Consort’s Sceptre with the Cross.

The Queen Consort's Sceptre with the Dove.

The Queen Consort’s Sceptre with the Dove.

The Queen’s Sceptre with the Cross and the Queen’s Sceptre with the Dove were made for Mary of Modena in 1685. The Queen’s Sceptre with the Dove is the only major part of the regalia made of ivory, and is sometimes called “The Queen’s Ivory Rod”.

The Orbs


The Sovereign’s Orb and the Small Orb.

The Sovereign’s Orb is an artefact known as a globus cruciger, and it symbolizes Jesus, the king of the world, and the monarch’s position as Defender of the Faith, It’s hollow and made of gold with a jewelled band and cross on top, and was made in 1661.

When Mary II was crowned as sovereign jointly with her husband William III in 1689, the Small Orb was made for her. The two orbs were both set on the coffin of Queen Victoria at her funeral in 1901.

The Ampulla and Spoon

ampulla and spoon

The Ampulla and the Anointing Spoon.

The Ampulla and the Anointing Spoon are the most ancient parts of the regalia, having survived Cromwell. During the Coronation, holy oil is poured out of the ampulla into the spoon, and the Archbishop of Canterbury uses the spoonful of oil to anoint the monarch as a holy person. The ceremony, which was taken from the coronation ceremonies of the French kings, is hidden from everyone else by means of some sheets on poles held up around the sovereign and Archbishop as a sort of makeshift tent. It’s tradition to mix a little bit of the oil used in the last coronation into the new oil for each coronation; the original oil, or so the Church would have us believe, was given to St. Thomas Becket by a vision of the Virgin Mary sometime in the 12th century.

The Spoon, the oldest single thing in the Crown Jewels, is gold-plated silver with pearls on the handle and a bowl with a ridge through the middle. It is known to date back to at least 1349 and is believed to have been made for the coronation of either Henry II in 1154 or Richard I in 1189. It was sold for 16 shillings in 1649 to the head of the Removing Wardrobe, the royal office in charge of keeping track of all the king’s stuff as he moves from palace to palace throughout the year. He gave it back in 1661, at which time it was given a re-gilting.

The Ampulla is a gold vessel in the shape of an eagle. The head screws off to put the oil in, and the oil pours out of its beak. It is believed by some that this ampulla is the same one that was made for the coronation of Henry IV in 1399, but by others to be yet another piece made by Charles II in 1661. The herald Francis Sandford wrote in 1687 that the eagle had definitely survived into the Restoration; there is also incontrovertible proof that the Crown Jeweller, Sir Robert Viner, Bt., was paid £102/5/— for a new ampulla in 1661. There’s only one fancy eagle oil cruet in the Tower of London, though, so nobody knows which one it is.

The Rings

The Coronation Rings

L to R: Queen Victoria’s Coronation Ring, Sovereign’s Ring, Queen Consort’s Ring

The Sovereign’s Ring has a big sapphire with a St. George’s cross on it in rubies, encircled with diamonds. At one point every new king got a new ring, symbolizing his “marriage” to his country, and it was his to keep. William IV left his ring to his widow, Queen Adelaide, who had also been given the Queen Consort’s Ring (a ruby circled with diamonds) at their coronation in 1831. She left both rings to Queen Victoria, whose fingers were too small to fit William’s ring and so had made a smaller copy (Queen Victoria’s Coronation Ring) for her use in 1838. Victoria willed all three to the Crown, and every monarch since Edward VII has used William’s ring.

The Spurs

The King's Spurs.

The King’s Spurs.

The Spurs represent chivalry. They’re solid gold versions of your basic cowboy-type horse-jabbing spurs, the kind with a solid spike instead of the little sharp wheels. The spurs date back to 1661, except for the red velvet straps, which were added by George IV in 1821. In the case of reigning queens, the spurs aren’t put on; they’re just presented to her.

The Armills

The armills of Charles II (L) and of Elizabeth II (R).

The armills of Charles II (L) and of Elizabeth II (R).

Armills are hinged gold cuff-like bracelets lined with crushed red velvet, which represent the sovereign being bound to serve the country. The older of the two sets is the King’s Armills, made in 1661 and decorated with enamelled pictures of roses, thistles, harps and fleurs-de-lis.

In 1953, the governments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) chipped in for a coronation gift to our Queen and commissioned Queen Elizabeth II’s Armills, a simple, elegant pair of gold armills with understated engraving and an invisible hinge with spring catch.

The Vestments

The Coronation Robes are based off priestly vestments and are put on over whatever it is that they came in wearing.

Queen in her shroud

Elizabeth II in the Colobium Sindonis.

The first layer is the Colobium Sindonis, or “shroud tunic”, a simple white gown (It symbolizes being naked before the Lord, but doing that properly would be wildly inappropriate for the middle of Westminster Abbey.) They make a new one every time.

supertunica and accessories

The Dalmatic and Girdle of George V and the Stole of Elizabeth II.

Next comes the Dalmatic, or Supertunica, which is a richly embroidered gold silk robe with red silk lining. Its worn with a matching Girdle (belt), and the current ones were made for George V in 1911.

Over that goes the Stole, a gold silk scarf embroidered with symbols of the Church, Britain and the Commonwealth, worn draped over the shoulders like a priest or fat Elvis. A new one was made in 1953 by the Worshipful Company of Girdlers for Elizabeth II.


The Imperial Mantle.

Over the top of that goes the Imperial Mantle, or Cloth-of-Gold, an ankle-length gold silk cape with a fringed hem and embroidered thistles, roses and shamrocks. It was made for George IV in 1821. The monarch wears these vestments until they’re crowned and takes them off before they leave the Abbey.

purple cape

The Royal Pall of Elizabeth II.

red robe

The Queen wearing her Robe of Parliament as she enters Westminster Abbey.

As the Queen or King leaves, poses for photos afterward, etc., he or she wears the Royal Robe of State, or “Royal Pall”, or “fancy king cape”. A new one is made each time, of crushed purple velvet and ermine trim, a gold braid clasp and the sovereign’s cipher embroidered in gold at the bottom. The lining for Elizabeth II’s robe was made of oyster silk, because it’s lighter and her coronation was in June. For most other caped occasions, like the state opening of Parliament, the monarch wears his or her Robes of Parliament, which is red, shorter, and unembroidered.

The Other Stuff

The Lily Font.

Charles II not only had made a whole set of regalia in 1661, he had a whole gold altar set made for Westminster Abbey, plus an enormous solid gold dinnerware set for the coronation banquet. The altar set included a gold chalice (cup) and paten (plate) for the Holy Communion, plus a baptismal font that was used for the christening of every royal baby for 180 years. In 1840 Queen Victoria commissioned the silver-gilt Lily Font for her first child, Princess Victoria (later the Empress of Germany), which has been used ever since.

Exeter salt

The Salt of State.

The pièce de résistance of the banquet set is the Salt of State, or Exeter Salt (after the city that gifted it to the King), a big, ornately decorated gold salt cellar in the shape of a castle. For much of history, a coronation ended in a lavish banquet punctuated by the arrival of the King’s Champion, a tradition in which a man came charging into the banquet hall on a horse and challenged any of the new king’s opponents to a duel.

The last coronation banquet was held for George IV in 1821, in which the hall got so hot that the candles in the chandeliers melted and rained hot wax down on the guests. William IV and Victoria cancelled their banquets as a cost-cutting sop; Edward VII was planning to reinstate the tradition, but fell sick with appendicitis and so the plans were shelved. (The doctor who treated King Edward’s appendix and saved his life was none other than Sir Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic medicine. As a reward, he was made Lord Lister.)

That’s all the Crown Jewels… or, at least, the English crown jewels. Tune in next time, when we take a look at the fascinating stories behind the crown jewels of Scotland, Ireland and Wales: Crown Jewels 2: Celtic Riches.