Countries with an establshed nobility?

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Mike_Oettle
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Mike_Oettle » 21 Jul 2015, 19:35

South Africa has at no stage had an established nobility — although the traditional chiefs of the indigenous peoples have acquired a status that is somewhat similar since 1994.
However residents of the country were at one time regularly included on the British honours lists. Several knights were created and a number of baronets, but only a single barony: Lord De Villiers of Wynberg, Chief Justice of the Cape Colony and chairman of the National Convention, which drew up the Constitution of the Union of South Africa in 1909.
The awarding of “foreign honours” was abolished by Parliament in 1924, although no formal legislation was passed at the time.
The knights created, in due course, died out, but the baronetcies and the barony continued.
As is well known, a baronet is “neither a gentleman nor a nobleman”, so we are not dealing in this instance with titled nobility.
Whether the baronetcies still exist is a moot point — perhaps Arthur Radburn could provide more detailed information.
The first baronetcy, that of Sir Andries Stockenström, died out during the 20th century, but the Graaff baronetcy continued.
From the mid-1950s to the mid-’60s the holder, Sir De Villiers Graaff, was Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. He was known as Sir De Villiers until his death. I believe, but am not certain, that his son David (the second Sir David Graaff) still uses the appellation.
If memory serves there are others, but they do not come to mind.
This leaves us with the one South African lordship, De Villiers of Wynberg. However the holder of the title emigrated to New Zealand during the 20th century, so while the title is still extant, it is not to be found in South Africa.
I know of one other foreign title in South Africa. The Randlord Joseph Robinson was created a baronet, and in 1921 his daughter Ida married an Italian diplomat named Natale Labia. My recollection is that the Italian Crown created him a count (perhaps with a bit of encouragement from Sir Joseph). Certainly the counts Labia are still to be found in Cape Town. Natale and Ida settled in Muizenberg in 1929 and built a palatial mansion which can still be seen by visitors travelling to Fish Hoek, Simonstown and Cape Point by car or by train.

And Chris, I presume you had your tongue firmly in your cheek when you spoke of the Hutt River Principality . . .
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
[Proverbs 14:27]

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Chris Green
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Chris Green » 21 Jul 2015, 19:47

And Chris, I presume you had your tongue firmly in your cheek when you spoke of the Hutt River Principality . . .


Moi? Joke about the Hutt River Principality? Far too serious a matter for idle banter. Ask my predecessor.
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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 22 Jul 2015, 02:06

Apologies if already argued, but to me the is a difference between "countries with an established nobility" (note the present tense) and countries with a few residents or citizens who happen to have titles from a different time or place.
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Arthur Radburn
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Arthur Radburn » 22 Jul 2015, 12:50

Mike_Oettle wrote:The awarding of “foreign honours” was abolished by Parliament in 1924, although no formal legislation was passed at the time.
It was simply a resolution of the House of Assembly, asking King George V to "refrain from conferring any titles upon your subjects domiciled or living in the Union of South Africa". King George V obliged, and so did Kings Edward VIII and George VI (with one exception) and Queen Elizabeth II. I would imagine the resolution effectively fell away when the monarchy ended in SA in 1961.

Mike_Oettle wrote:Whether the baronetcies still exist is a moot point — perhaps Arthur Radburn could provide more detailed information.
According to Cracroft's Peerage (online), eight of the thirteen SA baronetcies still exist, but only three of the current baronets live in SA. The others live in the UK, the Channel Islands, Canada, and Australia.

Mike_Oettle wrote:This leaves us with the one South African lordship, De Villiers of Wynberg. However the holder of the title emigrated to New Zealand during the 20th century, so while the title is still extant, it is not to be found in South Africa.
Again according to Cracroft's, the current (4th) baron is 75 years old and has no heir, so the barony will die with him.

Mike_Oettle wrote:Certainly the counts Labia are still to be found in Cape Town. Natale and Ida settled in Muizenberg in 1929 and built a palatial mansion which can still be seen by visitors travelling to Fish Hoek, Simonstown and Cape Point by car or by train.
The palazzo is now an upmarket restaurant. I was there last year, and was interested to see Count Natale's patent of nobility and his (Italian) grant of arms hanging on the wall, next to his portrait.

Michael F. McCartney wrote:Apologies if already argued, but to me the is a difference between "countries with an established nobility" (note the present tense) and countries with a few residents or citizens who happen to have titles from a different time or place.
Agreed. But I wonder how clear the distinction was in the British dominions before they were recognised as autonomous - and later independent - states in the 1920s and '30s. The British monarch was the monarch of all of them and the fount of honour for all of them, and their residents were all British subjects.
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Michael F. McCartney
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Michael F. McCartney » 22 Jul 2015, 23:56

I would agree that, in the past, any numbet of titles etc. may have been officially or socially recognized in the former dominions; but the key words are "past" and/or "former". Then was then, now is now. The old ways may well have an historic or romantic appeal, but no current reality.
Michael F. McCartney
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JMcMillan
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby JMcMillan » 23 Jul 2015, 12:53

It seems to me that the realm in which a title legally exists depends on the terms by which it was created, not the place of domicile of the bearer or the geographic designation of the title.

For example, the fact that the Duke of Wellington was a British subject domiciled in Britain did not make his title of Prince of Waterloo a British title, nor did the fact that Nelson and St. Vincent's peerages referred to locations in Egypt and Portugal make those titles Egyptian or Portuguese.

The title of "Baron de Villiers of Wynberg" exists in the peerage of the United Kingdom, not that of the British Empire, because there never was any such thing as a peer of the British Empire, nor in the equally non-existent peerage of the Union of South Africa. Same for the baronets. Each of them is a baronet of one of the two species of baronets existing at the time the title was created: England/GB/UK or Scotland. There was never a baronetage of South Africa.
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Ryan Shuflin
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 23 Jul 2015, 14:33

JMcMillan wrote:It seems to me that the realm in which a title legally exists depends on the terms by which it was created, not the place of domicile of the bearer or the geographic designation of the title.

For example, the fact that the Duke of Wellington was a British subject domiciled in Britain did not make his title of Prince of Waterloo a British title, nor did the fact that Nelson and St. Vincent's peerages referred to locations in Egypt and Portugal make those titles Egyptian or Portuguese.

The title of "Baron de Villiers of Wynberg" exists in the peerage of the United Kingdom, not that of the British Empire, because there never was any such thing as a peer of the British Empire, nor in the equally non-existent peerage of the Union of South Africa. Same for the baronets. Each of them is a baronet of one of the two species of baronets existing at the time the title was created: England/GB/UK or Scotland. There was never a baronetage of South Africa.


I also believe that to be correct, only to add that all honours and titles from the three Kingdoms and their successor kingdoms can be termed British, and functioned as the honour system for the British Empire. Their regulation is entirely the jurisdiction of the UK. My guess is that the commonwealth realms treat a British title the same as it would a Swedish one.

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Mike_Oettle
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Mike_Oettle » 23 Jul 2015, 20:54

Joe McMillan wrote: “There was never a baronetage of South Africa.”

Nor did I contend that there was one. I merely mentioned baronets created by the British Crown who were South African residents. They were, and remain, a curiosity in my country.
The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
[Proverbs 14:27]

Ryan Shuflin
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Ryan Shuflin » 28 Jul 2015, 13:28

I don't see why native chiefdoms and subnational kingdoms don't count as nobility. In British tradition peerage and nobility is often used interchangeably, but on most of the European continent, and I think most societies, the noble class has meant families, most of whose members have no title. It is probable that since in England, the petty untitled nobility was not granted the same privileges elsewhere (Such as exemption from certain taxes as in Spain and France). I do think that at least in Europe, during the period that nobility was universally acknowledged, was considered universal. So that a nobleman that immigrated could expect the same rights as the native nobility. For the most part nobility was thought as inherited from time immemorial, and not granted (though the opposite was often true).

As far as if it is legal or not to call oneself count, we also must remember that English Common Law is more lenient with naming laws than other legal systems. So that it is not easy for one to legally change one's name, and one needs a reason (ie. marriage). I am less sure about the laws relating to using aliases.

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Chris Green
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Re: Countries with an establshed nobility?

Postby Chris Green » 28 Jul 2015, 17:39

As far as if it is legal or not to call oneself count, we also must remember that English Common Law is more lenient with naming laws than other legal systems. So that it is not easy for one to legally change one's name, and one needs a reason (ie. marriage). I am less sure about the laws relating to using aliases.


I am not quite clear what you are getting at here Ryan. In the UK one may change one's name by deed poll (without resort to lawyers - it's relatively straightforward, I've done it). So it is perfectly possible for a John Smith to become, say, Count Cagliostro, though whether that would be accepted for the purposes of a British passport is entirely up to the Passport Office (and if they said OK, the Count would be as a forename not a title.

In Sweden one can also change one's name relatively simply, and without resort to a lawyer. But Skatteverket (the tax authority) or Patentverket (the patent authority), which are responsible for such matters can refuse a change of forename if the proposed name is not "suitable". I cannot immediately find Greve (Count), Baron or Friherre among the "unsuitables", but von and af (the Swedish equivalent of von or de) certainly are. So a Swede named Staffan Wikström for example couldn't add af as a name to make Staffan af Wikström.
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