ONCE they had the power of life and death over serfs and the title may still open doors to exclusive establishments.
A rare feudal earldom is about to come up for sale in Scotland and it might be the last time. Whoever buys the title will be able to call themselves earl, but they may have to pay 500,000 for the privilege.
The title is understood to be one of just six outstanding Scottish feudal earldoms left over from the medieval era. Along with less-prestigious feudal baronies, they are the only titles that can be legally bought or sold rather than inherited.
The seller is Dumfriesshire-based entrepreneur Brian Hamilton, dubbed the Raider of the Lost Titles, who last night said he believed the earldom would be the last to go on the open market, such is its rarity.
Hamilton refused to say which earldom he will be offering or what it would cost. But the Earldom of Arran recently changed hands for more than 200,000, while the Barony of Macdonald in Skye was reputedly sold for 1 million.
Baronies and earldoms were rediscovered – and first traded with land – in the second half of the 20th century. Since 2004, and the abolition of feudalism in Scotland, the titles have been separated from the land.
The title is not the same as a peerage earldom, an inherited rank that can earn a seat in the House of Lords. Titleholders can, however, be able to petition the Lord Lyon for a coat of arms.