How to Address an Earl, Countess, and Their Sons?
#1) Can an Earl and Countess either be called Earl of Richland and Countess of Richland, -or- Lord and Lady Richland?
#2) If the father is the Marquess and the son is a Viscount, can a father and eldest son both be Lord (Surname) at the same time?
#3) I understand that the younger son can be called Lord by courtesy, but please clarify about the eldest son for me.
British titles aren’t easy … unless you are raised with them! The British style books give directions on what to do rather than just the answer … so I wrote my book for those of us who want just the facts and fast.
#1) Can an Earl and Countess either be called Earl of Richland and Countess of Richland –or- Lord and Lady Richland?
An earl/countess is addressed in oral conversation as Lord (Name) / Lady (Name). Earl and countess are use only in written address, Someone might orally refer to the earl/countess by his or her title when speaking about the earl/countess to a third person such as in “the Earl of Richland will be here in 20 minutes.” In spoken address it is Lord (Name / Lady (Name)
#2) Can a father and eldest son both be a Lord (Surname) at the same time?
The (name) in the title may or may not be their surname … So don’t think of it as Lord (Surname) think of it as Lord (Name of Earldom). Only the titled person (the father) is addressed as Lord (name of title) … so a son would not be addressed as Lord based on that title until the title passes, when his father dies … but read the next note.
#3) Maybe the father is the Marquess and the son is a Viscount? I understand that the younger son can be called “lord” by courtesy, but please clarify about the eldest son for me.
Actually the father is both the Marquess and the Viscount. He is addressed by his highest title and the lower title is not used. So the eldest son (who will be inheriting the titles) can use ‘Viscount’ — one of his father’s unused titles — during his father’s lifetime.
There’s a different formula for younger sons … who are Honourable and Mr. (Surname) … and have no title to pass on. And yes — in this case (Surname) is their family name.
— Robert Hickey