Does one address a Dowager as one would the nobleman’s wife? I am a minister and have a Dowager in my parish. Do you think Duchess (first name) or Dear Duchess of (Somewhere), more suitable? How to address a dowager?
British style guides suggest in oral conversation with a duchess you use: Your Grace
—-—-In a salutation: Dear Duchess:
The style guides further suggest in oral conversation with a marchioness, countess, viscountess or baroness you use: Lady (Name): where (Name) is the name of the marquessate, earldom, viscountcy, or barony.
—-—-In a salutation with a marchioness: My Madam: or Dear Lady:
—-—-With a countess, viscountess or baroness: Dear Lady:
But there is a difference is how one ‘describes’ the d0wager or addresses the dowager in writing. This is determined by how the individual dowager styles herself.
In writing – on an envelope or in full introduction – style books present two ways. These formulas works for duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess and baroness:
Formula #1 …. The Dowager (Full Title)
—-—-Example: The Dowager Duchess (of Place)
—-Formula #2 …. (Name), (Complete name of rank)
—-—-Example: Mary, Duchess (of Place)
—-—-—-Which is the form the dowager Duchess of Devonshire who died in 2014 used:
—-—-—-—-Deborah Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire
To be certain which formula this dowager prefers, see if she has a personal secretary who can advise which style the individual prefers.
— Robert Hickey How to address a dowager?