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Forms of Address
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A good number of the characters being played at Age of Intrigue are members of the peerage and gentry and so this guide has been put up to illustrate how these people would be addressed by others in society. Players will not be penalized if they make a mistake in address, however, we do encourage players to refer to this guide if needed. To help you your official title will be indicated below your avatar.
Only close intimates of a person would be given the permission to address that person by first name alone. Intimates include childhood friends, siblings, lovers, parents towards their children, and spouses. However, people in the 17th century were far more formal than people are today and so it was not unusual for intimates to continue addressing each other by full titles or an abbreviated form of the title. For instance, friends might refer to the Duke of Buckingham as "Bucky". First names should thus not be used arbitrarily and never before the honor is granted to one's character.
Social vs. Formal Correspondence
Social correspondence includes such sundry items as letters between friends, invitations to social events, and thank-you notes. Formal correspondence, then, are those letters that a person may receive in his or her official capacity as an MP, a member of the government, a patron(ess), or any other formal position that the person may hold. Additionally, though invitations to a royal function might be considered "social", they were actually formal things and would have used formal forms of address since anything issued from the monarch's court under his capacity as King would have been formalized. That is not to say that the king could not write social letters to his friends and mistresses, though. I'm sure he did. See charts for examples of usage.
The eldest son of a peer is entitled to the use of one of his father's secondary titles during his father's lifetime. Usually, the son will take the next highest title in his father's list unless that title is too easily confused with the father's title. For instance: The Duke of Buckingham's next highest title is the Marquess of Buckingham. Rather than take this title, his eldest son would take a further subsidiary title, Earl of Coventry, so that there could be no confusion whatsoever between father and son. See Courtesy Titles for more detailed information, if interested.
Use of Mistress, Master, and Mrs With and Without Christian Names
When "Mistress" is used alone with a surname, it refers to the eldest unmarried daughter. Other daughters must be distinguished by using their Christian names. For example, Mistress Doolittle, Mistress Ophelia, and Mistress Natalie. Or, collectively, the Mistresses Doolittle. In conversation, where none of her sisters are present, a younger sister may be addressed as Mistress Doolittle. If Ellen and Ophelia are standing together, however, they are addressed as Mistress Doolittle and Mistress Ophelia.
When "Master" is used alone with a surname, it refers to the eldest son (of a Viscount, baron, or commoner). His younger brothers are distinguished from him in speech by using their Christian names, similarly to the use of "Mistress." Their wives adopt precisely the same usage, only with "Mrs." instead of "Master." Master. Plowden is the eldest son, and Mrs. Plowden is his wife; Mr. Thomas Plowden is a younger son, and Mrs. Thomas Plowden is his wife.
Titles in Speech
In speech, with a few rare exceptions for extremely formal occasions, all ranks below duke are called "Lord" and "Lady" (Title) and never their full titles, i.e. "Lord and Lady Somerset" as opposed to "The Earl and Countess of Somerset". The titles would never be used in intimate speech, even when referring to them.
Introductions at Age of Intrigue
Given the limitations of an rp setting, there are certain forms that we encourage players to follow when introducing characters to one another. So as to leave no doubt as to a person's specific rank, all characters should include their full title in the introduction, along with their given name.
The exception is the royal Stuart family, who only are introduced using their first name after the title... as if they need any introduction. Be aware that speaking of Charles Stuart makes you in fact a very conservative Whig or Puritan, as it denies the royal status. It was how Cromwell referred to our current King while he was still uncrowned and on the run. The King might refer to himself as Charles Rex or CR for short. Even his mistresses only call him Charles in private, and even then only after long standing. York, CR and Buckingham call each other by their first names when in private too.
Remember to introduce other people to the person of highest rank, whether it is a peer or a courtesy title. So a Viscount is introduced to the Countess, not vice versa.
Technically you can't introduce yourself, but always go through somebody else and the person doing the introducing more or less promises the other party is of good standing. That is not always practical (though a lady can keep a man at arm's length by insisting they have not been properly introduced). It is one of the things you can fudge a little when the situation warrants it, or which you can play up. Your choice.
|Duke||Firstname Lastname, Title||George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham|
|Marquess||Firstname Lastname, Title||Edward Hare, Marquess of Weldon|
|Earl||Firstname Lastname, Title||John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester|
|Viscount||Firstname Lastname, Title||Henry Grey, Viscount Fownhope|
|Baron||Firstname Lastname, Lord Title||William Tolle, Lord Easton|
|Baronet||Sir Firstname Lastname||Sir Cedric Doolittle|
|Elder Sons with Courtesy Titles||Firstname Lastname, Title||Charles Wilmot, Viscount Wilmot|
|Younger Sons of Dukes and Marquesses||Lord Firstname Lastname||Lord Edward Somerset|
|Elder Sons of Earls (with no courtesy title), Viscounts, Barons, Baronets, and Commoners||Firstname, Master Lastname||Geoffrey, Master Barrons|
|Younger Sons of Earls, Viscounts, Barons, Baronets, and Commoners||Master Firstname Lastname||Master Francis de Courtenay|
The subtle difference between the formula Firstname, Master Lastname and Master Firstname Lastname denotes order of birth. Barons are never referred to as "Baron Title" as it is considered vulgar.
|Duchess||Firstname Lastname, Title||Barbara Palmer, the Duchess of Clevelend|
|Marchioness||Firstname Lastname, Title||Sarah Hare, Marchioness of Weldon|
|Countess||Firstname Lastname, Title||Catriona MacGregor, Countess of Alyth|
|Viscountess||Firstname Lastname, Title||Anne Steward, Viscountess Taverstock|
|Baroness||Firstname Lastname, Lady Title||Isabeau de Vere, Lady Lismore|
|Baronet's Wife||Firstname, Lady Lastname||Jane, Lady Doyle|
|Daughters of Dukes, Marquesses, and Earls||Lady Firstname Lastname||Lady Elizabeth Somerset|
|Eldest Daughters of Viscounts, Barons, Baronets, and Commoners||Firstname, Mistress Lastname||Frances, Mistress Liddell|
|Younger Daughters of Viscounts, Barons, Baronets, and Commoners||Mistress Firstname Lastname||Mistress Ophelia Doolittle|
The subtle difference between the formula Firstname, Mistress Lastname and Mistress Firstname Lastname denotes order of birth. Baronesses are never referred to as "Baroness Title" as it is considered vulgar.