Earl | Countess

How to Address an Earl
How to Address a Countess

—-The Earl Ferrers
—-The Earl of Coventry
—-The Earl of Shrewsbury and Waterford

When an earldom has a compound name, (name one)’ of/and ‘(name two)’, use name one when (name) is specified and the full compound name when the (complete name) is specified.

The given name of the titled person is never used in formal address. British style books show the courtesy title abbreviated as shown below.

——The Right Hon.
—-—-The Earl (complete name)

—-—-The Right Hon.
—-—-The Countess (complete name)

—-—-The Right Hon.
—-—-The Earl and Countess (complete name)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear Lord/Lady (name):

– Robert Hickey  How to Address an Earl  How to Address a Countess

See Below:  The Earl and Countess of Grantham, from the PBS Series Downton Abbey were addressed as Lord Grantham and Lady Grantham. Earl and countess are not used in a salutation or conversation. Photo courtesy © Carnival Productions 2017.

How to Address an Earl, Countess, and Their Sons?

#1)  Can an Earl and Countess either be called Earl of Richland and Countess of Richland, -or-  Lord and Lady Richland?
#2) If the father is the Marquess and the son is a Viscount, can a father and eldest son both be Lord (Surname) at the same time?
#3) I understand that the younger son can be called Lord by courtesy, but please clarify about the eldest son for me.
————————— LBT

Dear LBT:
British titles aren’t easy … unless you are raised with them!  The British style books give directions on what to do rather than just the answer … so I wrote my book for those of us who want just the facts and fast.

#1) Can an Earl and Countess either be called Earl of Richland and Countess of Richland –or- Lord and Lady Richland?

An earl/countess is addressed in oral conversation as Lord (Name) / Lady (Name).   Earl and countess are use only in written address, Someone might orally refer to the earl/countess by his or her title when speaking about the earl/countess to a third person such as in “the Earl of Richland will be here in 20 minutes.”   In spoken address it is  Lord (Name / Lady (Name)

#2) Can a father and eldest son both be a Lord (Surname) at the same time?

The (name) in the title may or may not be their surname … So don’t think of it as Lord (Surname) think of it as Lord (Name of Earldom).  Only the titled person (the father) is addressed as Lord (name of title) … so a son would not be addressed as Lord based on that title until the title passes, when his father dies … but read the next note.

#3) Maybe the father is the Marquess and the son is a Viscount? I understand that the younger son can be called “lord” by courtesy, but please clarify about the eldest son for me.

Actually the father is both the Marquess and the Viscount. He is addressed by his highest title and the lower title is not used. So the eldest son (who will be inheriting the titles) can use ‘Viscount’ — one of his father’s unused titles — during his father’s lifetime.

There’s a different formula for younger sons … who are Honourable and Mr. (Surname) … and have no title to pass on. And yes — in this case (Surname) is their family name.

— Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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