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The personal dignities of a baron is e uniquely Scottish title which has survived feudal abolition, despite being completely disconnected from the land to which they were originally attached. The Feudal system survived in Scotland until 2004.

Historical background
Until feudal abolition on 28 November 2004 a barony, and the superior titles of Feudal lordship and Feudal Earldom, were estates of land held directly from the Crown. Historically in the Middle Ages, creation of baronial status secured the allegiance of the baron to the Crown, and was granted in return for military service.

Baronies were constituted by a Crown Charter which was recorded in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland and until 1874 every new Baron was confirmed by the Crown in a Charter of Confirmation.

Some barons had the right of “pit and gallows” and were able to impose the death sentence for cases of theft and manslaughter! Barons were also entitled to sit in the Scottish Parliament up to 1707.

The powers enjoyed by the barons were significantly reduced after the 1745 Jacobite. Theoretically they retained a right of civil and criminal jurisdiction, until these too were abolished by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000.

Over time baronies lost their economic as well as their legal significance as estates were sold off, or broken up, often to pay death duties in the years following the two World Wars. Thus many have fallen through cracks in the floorboards of lax conveyancing, making proof of good title often torturous and sometimes impossible.” (Hugh Peskett, Burkes Peerage, 107th Edition). Stripped of their legal and economic benefits baronies were of little value to their holders.

Dignities and feudal abolition
Interest in baronies revived after the Second World War. As a result of this renewed interest they were not forgotten in the 2000 Act. Barony titles were converted into personal titles, with no powers or responsibilities or link to any piece of land. The feudal abolition resulting from the Act has not affected the ability of the holder of a Barony to sell, gift or bequeath the title.

Prior to feudal abolition the right to adopt the title of baron was attached to the ownership of the caput or head place of the barony. The caput was often the castle or mansion house. Although the dignity of Baron has now been separated from the land, a purchaser should consider using a Scottish solicitor to assist with the examination of the title deeds and the to carry out certain conveyancing formalities. After conclusion of a contract, and due diligence, the dignity will be transferred or assigned to the new owner, title then passing to the new owner. It is recommended that the Assignation is then registered in the Scottish Barony Register.This is not compulsory, but it is recommended, and useful if a grant of Arms is sought.

Heraldry
The grant of Arms is a matter for the Lord Lyon, who is the Crown’s representative in all heraldic matters in Scotland. The holder of a Scottish barony can petition the Lord Lyon for a grant of Arms appropriate to a Baron as long as the holder falls within Lord Lyon’s jurisdiction. Since 2009 this includes Foreign applicants who hold a Scottish barony.