Peerage of New Ingerland

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The Peerage is a system of titles used to form the New Ingerland nobility and the honours system. All title of peerage are created directly by the Sovereign through the issue of letters patent, and take full legal effect when letters patent are affixed with the Great Seal of New Ingerland. The Sovereign is considered the fount of honour, and therefore does not hold a peerage. If an individual is neither the Sovereign nor a peer, he or she is said to be a commoner. There are currently just 126 peers in New Ingerland, with the system having been established by Alexander I in 1836.

The peerage of New Ingerland is quite heavily based on the British peerage, and therefore shares many of the customs and traditions of the peerage with that system. However, there are some distinct differences between the two systems. Unlike the British system, there are no life peerages, which has been seen as a source of political patronage and not a honour for services rendered to the Crown and country.

Ranks

Peers are of four ranks[1], in descending order of hierarchy:

Rank Number
Duke (List)
Earl (List)
Viscount (List)
Baron (List)

Baronets, while being the holder of a hereditary title, are not peers.

Style and Titles

For peers, the various titles are in the form of (Rank) (Name of Title) or (Rank) of (Name of Title). The name of the title can either be a place name or a surname. The precise usage depends on the rank of the peerage and on certain other general considerations. Dukes always use of. Earls whose titles are based on place names normally use of, while those whose titles are based on surnames normally do not. Viscounts and Barons do not use of.

Inheritance

All peerages in New Ingerland are hereditary, and their dignity may be inherited. All peerage dignities are created by the King by the issue of letters patent. Once created, a peerage dignity continues to exist as long as there are surviving descendants of the first holder, unless a contrary method of descent is specified in the letters patent. Once the heirs of the original peer die out, the peerage dignity becomes extinct. The patent creating all peerages specifies the peer's heirs of the body as successors, meaning that inheritance is by the oldest surviving child without regard to gender. It is not possible to disclaim a peerage, and once inherited, is kept for life. The only exception is when the holder of a peerage succeeds to the throne, where the dignity "merges in the Crown" and is deemed to have ceased to exist.

A peerage is not forfeit if a peer is found guilty of murder, rape, or treason; but the rights and privileges of the peerage may be stripped for life if a peer is convicted of such offences. A peer may petition the Sovereign to restore the dignity once his sentence is served, although it is up to the Sovereign to determine if such a restoration takes place. There is no notion of a "corruption of blood" in the New Ingerland peerage, and descendants of peers who have been convicted of a serious offence may freely inherit the styles and titles in the usual fashion.

Many peers hold more than one hereditary title; for example, the same individual may be a duke, an earl, a viscount and a baron by virtue of different peerages. In this case, the peer's eldest son may use one of the father's subsidiary titles as a "courtesy title", but the son is not considered a peer.

Privileges

Any peer in New Ingerland may be elected to the Senate, subject to qualifications of age and citizenship, with 12 seats in that chamber having been allocated to peerage. The 12 peers that sit in the Senate are known representative peers and are elected by all adult members of the Peerage, who conduct their own ballot to fill a seat in the Senate when it falls vacant. Since it was created, all peers have been disqualified from sitting in the House of Assembly.

In addition, a peer enjoys the following rights:

  • Peers and their families have positions in the order of precedence.
  • Peers wear special coronets at coronation of the Sovereign; depictions of these coronets also appear atop peers' armorial achievements.
  • Peers have distinctive robes for use at coronations and in the Senate (if a member of the latter).

References and notes

  1. The rank of Marquess, which is commonly used in the various British Peerages, is wholly absent in New Ingerland.