Titles of nobility, or peerages, are granted by the king or queen of Great Britain upon the recommendation of the prime minister. In most hereditary peerages, the title passes on to a peer's oldest son, or to his closest male heir if the peer has no son (the other children are considered commoners). The title becomes extinct if there is no male heir. There are some ancient peerages that allow the title to be passed to a daughter if the holder leaves no male descendant. The last hereditary peerage was granted in 1964.
Life peerages are created each year by the British monarch for several distinguished persons. Life peers hold the rank for their own lives only; the titles do not pass on to their children. Both men and women may be granted life peerages, and the titles given to them are baron and baroness.
Below are the five grades of peers ranked from the highest to the lowest and the dates they were created (Duke is the highest hereditary rank below that of prince.) and there are additional resources outlining spoken and written forms of address in this section as well.
|2. marquess, marquis||
countess (c. 800-1000)
baroness (c. 1066)