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II.—THE ORDER OF BARONETS.*
King James I. in May, 1611, for the purpose of obtaining assistance in subjugating and settling the Province of Ulster in Ireland. The Province having become vested in the Crown by the attainder of its previous owners, the King conferred grants of land upon those who would maintain a body of thirty soldiers there for three years. The person who undertook this charge was created a Baronet. He was allowed (inter alia) to add to his family arms those of the Province, commonly called “the bloody hand ;” and the Sovereign undertook that no dignity should ever be created to intervene between Baronets and the Peerage. At its first institution the Order was limited to two hundred, but now it contains nearly six times that number. The creation was by Letters Patent, and it was essential for the claimant to be of honourable descent, and to have an estate of £1,000 a year in land. Subsequently a Commission was established under the Great Seal to confer the dignity, but this Commission lasted for a very short time, and the ancient form of Letters Patent was again reverted to. In 1612, on the publication of a Decree respecting the precedence of Baronets, their eldest sons, when of full age, were granted the privilege of claiming the honour of Knighthood. A clause to this effect was thenceforth inserted in every Patent
* [We have pleasure in giving insertion to this Article, both on account of the Historical interest attaching to the subject, and of the special opportunities which our valued contributor has had for access to the documents on which it is to a great extent based. With the claims advanced by the Committee, on behalf of the Order, we do not profess in any way to identify either ourselves, or our contributor, except in so far as they may be shewn in the Article to have been admittedly justifiable.—ED.]
until 1827, when George IV. ordered that this clause should be omitted from all future Patents. The right therefore is only vested in those Baronetcies created prior to 1827. The only instance of a Baronetcy being conferred upon a female, occurs in the case of Dame Mary Bolles, of Osberton, in Nottinghamshire, who, in 1635, received the dignity of Baronetess of Nova Scotia, with remainder to her heirs whatsoever. The Baronets created between the years 1707 and 1801 are termed Baronets of Great Britain. Those created from 1801 to the present time are termed Baronets of the United Kingdom.
King Charles I., in 1625, instituted the Baronets of Scotland and Nova Scotia. This Order was for the encouragement of those who planted and established the Province of Nova Scotia in America.
Baronets of Ireland followed the establishment of the English Baronetage. Their Order was first conferred in September, 1619.
By the respective Unions between England and Scotland, and Great Britain and Ireland, the Baronets of Scotland and Ireland were granted precedence according to their dates of creation among the Baronets of England and of Great Britain. The dates of creation of all Baronetcies conferred subsequently to 1801 naturally placed them after all others of the above branches.
On the 15th day of July, 1840, a permanent “ Committee of the Baronetage for Privileges” was founded, for the purpose of sustaining the rights and privileges of the Order, and various rules were adopted for the regulation of business. This was followed by a “ First Anniversary General Meeting," on the 4th June, 1841, when a report was presented by the Committee, adverting to the representative character which it enjoyed, the powers vested in it, the permanent capitular purposes for which it was formed, the grounds which were held to favour the right
of Baronets to carry supporters and other exterior heraldic ornaments, and reporting, further, that the ancient style of “The Honourable,” which originally had been ascribed to the Order by its Royal Founder, and by Society in general, had been revived; that from the commencement of the revival in 1835, only eleven Baronets out of 1,000 members of the Order had dissented from it, but without assigning any reasons for their doing so, that His Majesty King William IV. had communicated that he was fully satisfied that the Baronets had acted with great propriety in the steps which they had taken, and that the justice of their contention had not been questioned from any quarter competent to offer an opinion on the merits of the subject.
At a meeting held on the 18th September, 1841, specially called to consider the applications for Exterior Heraldic Ornaments of a number of Baronets who desired to act on the Resolutions of the General Meeting above referred to, an exposition was made by the Hon. Secretary of the reasons why the arms of the said applying Baronets should respectively be outwardly augmented with Supporters, a Coronet, Mantle, Helmet, Collar of S.S., Wreath, Badge, and Riband; when it was resolved that the Arms of the said Baronets should be registered in the books of the Committee, with the additaments enumerated, and that the said Arms should shew forth the mode whereby in future the Coats of all other applying Baronets of the several creations should be outwardly charged.
The Committee came to these conclusions after the most mature deliberations, and after hearing evidence and arguments which in their opinion fully authorised them, and it was resolved by them, as of dutiful respect to the Crown, that a Representation, embodying the proceedings and the conclusions, should be placed in the hands of the Prime Minister, in order that Her Majesty might be made officially cognisant of the same, and that through Her
responsible Minister, the wishes of the Order might be conveyed to Her, viz., " that She would be graciously pleased to honour the proceedings with Her favour and protection."
Pursuant to this Resolution a Deputation from the Committee waited on the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Peel) at his official residence in Downing Street, on 13th December, 1841, and placed the Representation in his hands, together with an Address, expressing the satisfaction of the Committee that the conclusions had been arrived at under the administration of a Statesman who had pledged himself and his colleagues on entering office “to act as men determined to maintain on their ancient foundations the institutions of the Monarchy,” and expressing the confident hope of the Committee that an Order created for the highest State purposes and conferred by successive monarchs for services deemed worthy of a perpetual mark of family distinction might freely use and enjoy every right and privilege incidental to it by the chartered engagements of its Royal Founder.
The claims put forward on behalf of the Baronetage were :
1. To be considered, not as the head of the nobiles minores, but as the lowest class among the nobiles majores, because their titles, like those of the higher nobility, are both hereditary, and created by patent.
2. To have place and state at all Royal or National solemnities.
3. To enjoy the style and title of “The Honourable.” 4. To wear the collar of S.S. 5. To be decorated with a riband and badge. 6. To have the title of Baronetess ascribed to their wives, in order to distinguish them from the wives of Knights.
7. To have the privilege of claiming knighthood restored to their eldest sons.
The Committee having, since its institution, had its attention drawn from various quarters to the necessity of adopting some measure to remedy the abuses which existed in the Baronetage from the irregular
the irregular assumption of titles, appointed a Deputation to wait upon the Secretary of State for the Home Department to represent to him the said abuses, and to request his aid to procure for the Committee authority to hear, consider, and report their opinion to the Crown upon the cases of all persons in future claiming dormant Baronetcies, or succeeding to Baronetcies by collateral succession, in the same manner as the Committee for Privileges of the House of Lords hear, consider, and report to the Crown in cases of Claim to Peerage Dignities. This having been communicated to the Home Secretary, that Minister requested that the matter might be submitted to him in writing, when he would consider it. Accordingly, a statement of the abuses in question, with reasons why an Order should be granted to the effect above set forth, was sent to the Home Office, and a communication was received saying that Sir James Graham was of opinion that such an Order would be inexpedient and therefore that he could not advise Her Majesty to give any commands for the purpose.
The Committee having exhausted this course, and feeling that the right existed in the Order as an hereditary estate of dignity to see that no person should take up the title of Baronet surreptitiously, considered that the time had arrived when a stop ought to be put to a system which tended materially to impair the consideration of the Baronetage, and submitted at the General Meeting, in 1841, that the Committee should resolve and declare “ that in future no person taking up a Baronetage after a dormancy, or succeeding to such a dignity by collateral succession, shall be recognised, held, or considered a Baronet by the Order unless he shall bring his claim under the cognisance of the