Titles for Heroes on Aisle Nine!
How to Purchase a Title PLUS My First Mea Culpa!
As I said in the previous post, I started writing To Tempt a Scotsman years ago when I was enthusiastic about my writing, but not precisely educated. Most of what I knew about nineteenth century society I'd learned from romance novels. You know, those wallpaper romances I blogged about last week? Delicious, but not the best education one could receive.
But I jumped into Scotsman without a care in the world and started writing! Inaccurately, as it turned out. It wasn't until I was about halfway through that I discovered a problem with my hero...
Collin Blackburn is a strong, dependable Scotsman. A simple man who breeds horses for a living and wants nothing to do with English society. But he's also the illegitimate son of an English earl, and I thought his father would have given him a minor title at some point. This was the way I was writing the book. La-la-la!
Well, of course, as I'd imagine all of you know, you cannot simply hand out English titles like sweetmeats, despite what might've gone on in novels past. By the time I realized this, I was halfway through my book. Now, there's no important plotline tied to Collin's title, and I could have removed it altogether. But it does set up some lovely conflict for him. He doesn't want anything to do with that world, but it keeps being thrust upon him. First with his father's late attention, then with the title, and finally with this English girl who won't leave him be!
Well, it turns out what I'm lacking in knowledge, I more than make up for in luck, because... drumroll please... There's only one title that may be honestly purchased, and that is... the Scottish Barony!!! Specifically the Scottish Prescriptive Barony by Tenure.
What luck! I have a sexy Scotsman on hand in need of a title! The Scottish barony (and I'm speaking in present tense though the rules changed in 2004) can only be assumed by the purchase of the land associated with the barony.
From Wikipedia: "In the seventeenth century two important statutes were passed. The first set up a General Register of Sasines, and said that all landowning should be registered in it, and that an entry in the Sasine Register would give prescriptive right, after so many years, to the "caput", or the essence of the barony. Accordingly, the individual - irrespective of sex, who owned the said piece of land containing the caput was the Baron or Baroness."
Perfect! Not only did this give Collin's father a way to buy him a title, it also set up the internal conflict for Collin. He wants to tell his father to shove the title up his arse, but he can't walk away from the valuable piece of land. Ha!
So I changed a few details in the story and happily finished it. Years went by before it won the Golden Heart and was eventually contracted by Kensington. I planned on doing a lot of research checking during revisions, but Oops! My editor didn't ask for any, and I was a little freaked out doing my first copy edits and... A few things slipped through the cracks, I'm afraid. Here's one of them!
Again, from Wikipedia: "The owner of the Scottish barony "Inverglen", may decide to continue to use his existing name, "John Smith", and add the title, to become "John Smith, Baron of Inverglen" and be addressed as "Inverglen"." Straightforward enough, and exactly what I'd done. But something started to niggle at my brain, though my spider senses came a bit too late for the sake of the reader.
After the book had already gone into production, it occurred to me that I'd only ever seen Scottish barons referred to as Baron So-and-So, never "Lord" So-and-So. Hmm. But I hadn't read about them often, so I set the worry aside until just a few weeks ago. Bad idea. Turns out I got the form of address wrong, and there's nothing to be done now, but admit my guilt.
Collin Blackburn, Baron of Westmore, should be addressed as Baron Westmore. Though his wife is called Lady Westmore, he is not (from what I can glean) addressed as Lord Westmore. Except in my book. *sigh*
[ADDED for clarification: I believe the reason the title "Lord" isn't used is that the Scottish barony is not equal in importance to the English barony (perhaps because it can be purchased?). As Collin tells Lady Alexandra in Scotsman, "I'm not the least bit respectable." Which only makes him more appealing to her, of course.]
So mea culpa. I hope you still think kindly of me, especially if you ever find yourself in need of a purchased title and refer back to this post!
All my best! And I hope you enjoy To Tempt a Scotsman despite any flaws!