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The Baronetage

The Baronetage is of far more ancient origin than many people may think. The term baronet is believed to have been first applied to nobility who for one reason or another had lost the right of summons to Parliament. The earliest mention of baronets was in the Battle of Barrenberg in 1321. There is a further mention of them in 1328 when Edward III is known to have created eight baronets. Further creations were made in 1340, 1446 and 1551. At least one of these, Sir William de la Pole in 1340, was created for payment of money, presumably expended by the King to help maintain his army. It is not known if these early creations were hereditary but all seem to have died out.

The present hereditary Order of Baronets in England dates from 22nd May 1611 when it was erected by James I who granted the first Letters Patent to 200 gentlemen of good birth with an income of at least £1000 a year. His intention was two fold. Firstly he wanted to fill the gap between peers of the realm and knights so he decided that the baronets were to form the sixth division of the aristocracy following the five degrees of the peerage. Secondly, and probably more importantly, he needed money to pay for soldiers to carry out the pacification of Ireland. Therefore those of the first creation, in return for the honour, were each required to pay for the upkeep of thirty soldiers for three years amounting to £1095, in those days a very large sum.

In 1619 James I erected the Baronetage of Ireland and laid plans for a further new Baronetage with the object of assisting the colonisation of Nova Scotia. However in 1624  he died before this could be implemented. In 1625 Charles I  took up the previous plans and erected the Baronetage of Scotland and Nova Scotia. The new baronets were each required to pay 2000 marks or to support six settlers for two years. Over a hundred of these baronetcies, now known as Scottish baronetcies, have survived to this day. The Duke of Roxburghe is the Premier Baronet of Scotland by his Baronetcy of Innes-Ker of Innes created in 1625.

Under the two Royal Warrants of 1612 and 1613 issued by James I certain privileges were accorded to baronets of England. Firstly, no person or persons should have place between baronets and the younger sons of peers. Secondly, the right of knighthood was established for the eldest sons of baronets, this was to be revoked by George IV in 1827, and thirdly baronets were allowed to add the Arms of Ulster as an in escutcheon to their armorial bearings. This last consisted of "in a field Argent, a hand Geules, or a bloudy hand". These privileges were extended to baronets of Ireland and, less the Arms of Ulster, to baronets of Scotland. They continue to this day for all  baronets of Great Britain and the United Kingdom created subsequently.

 

The Baronets' Badge

When Charles I erected the Baronetage of Scotland and Nova Scotia in 1625 there was a reluctance amongst suitable persons to purchase the honour, probably because 2000 marks, which was equivalent to £2000 in the money of that time, was considered to be extortionate. In order to popularise the new Baronetage Charles I gave its members the right to wear the badge of Nova Scotia around the neck suspended by an orange tawny ribbon. It consists of a silver shield with an azure saltire imposed upon it together with an inescutcheon of the Arms of Scotland. There is an Imperial Crown above the inescutcheon and the motto Fax mentis Honestae Gloria encircles the whole badge.

The baronets' badge takes precedence over all Orders worn around the neck with the exception of the Order of Merit. It is not worn in miniature and the riband is not worn in Undress Uniform. The badge may be worn by baronets in uniform as prescribed in dress regulations and in evening dress or with dinner jackets when it is worn close up below the tie.

Broun - History of the Baronetage Broun Chief’s Crest: A lion rampant, holding in the dexter paw a fleur-de-lis Broun Chief’s Crest: A lion rampant, holding in the dexter paw a fleur-de-lis