Precedence

Here is The Table of Precedence for Women, according to the Stockdale 1818 Peerage:

The Queen

The Princess of Wales

Princesses, Daughters of the King

Princesses and Duchesses, Wives of the King's Sons

Wives of the King's Brothers Wives of the King's Uncles

Wives of the eldest Sons of Dukes of the Blood Royal

Daughters of Dukes of the Blood Royal

Wives of the King's Brothers' or Sisters' Sons

Duchesses

Marchionesses

Wives of the eldest Sons of Dukes

Daughters of Dukes

Countesses

Wives of the eldest Sons of Marquesses

Daughters of Marquesses

Wives of the youngest Sons of Dukes

Viscountesses

Wives of the eldest Sons of Earls

Daughters of Earls

Wives of the younger Sons of Marquesses

Baronesses

Wives of the eldest Sons of Viscounts

Daughters of Viscounts

Wives of the younger Sons of Earls

Wives of the eldest Sons of Barons

Daughters of Barons

Maids of Honour

Wives of the younger Sons of Viscounts

Wives of the younger Sons of Barons

Wives of Baronets Wives of the Knights of the Garter

Wives of Bannerets of each Kind

Wives of the Knights Grand Crosses of the Bath

Wives of the Knights Commanders of the Order of the Bath

Wives of Knights Bachelors

Wives of the Eldest Sons of the younger Sons of Peers

Wives of the Eldest Sons of Baronets

Daughters of Baronets

Wives of the Eldest Sons of the Knights of the Garter

Daughters of Knights of the Garter

Wives of the Eldest Sons of Bannerets

Daughters of Bannarets

Wives of the Eldest Sons of Knights Grand Crosses of the Bath

Daughters of Knights of the Bath

Wives of the Eldest Sons of Knights Bachelors

Wives of the younger Sons of Baronets

Daughters of Knights Wives of Companions of the Order of the Bath

Wives of Esquires of the King's Body

Wives of Esquires of the Knights of the Bath

Wives of Esquires by Creation Wives of Esquires by Office

Wives of the younger Sons of Knights of the Garter

Wives of the younger Sons of Bannerets

Wives of the younger Sons of Knights Grand Crosses of the Bath

Wives of the younger Sons of Knights Bachelors

Wives of Gentlemen entitled to bear arms

Daughters of Esquires entitled to bear Arms, who are Gentlewomen by birth

Daughters of Gentlemen entitled to bear Arms, who are Gentlewomen by birth

Wives of Clergymen, Barristers at Law, Officers in the Navy and Army

Wives of Citizens

Wives of Burgesses  

  This list does not include widows/dowagers.

Here is the Table of Precedence for Men, according to the Stockdale 1818 Peerage:

The King

The Prince of Wales

King's Sons

King's Brothers

King's Uncles

King's Grandsons

King's Brother's or Sister's Sons

Prince of Saxe Coburg Saalfeld

Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Primate of all England

Lord High Chancellor, or Lord Keeper

Archbishop of York, Primate of England

Lord High Treasurer

Lord President of the Privy Council

Lord Privy Seal

Lord High Constable

Earl Marshal

Lord High Admiral

Lord Steward of his Majesty's Household

Lord Chamberlain of his Majesty's Household

Dukes, according to their Patents

Marquesses

Dukes' eldest Sons

Daughters of Dukes

Earls, according to their Patents

Marquesses' eldest Sons

Daughters of Marquesses

Dukes' younger Sons

Viscounts, according to their Patents

Earls' Eldest Sons

Marquesses' younger Sons

Bishops of London, Durham, Winchester, and all other Bishops, according to their Seniority of Consecration

Barons, according to their Patents

Speaker of the House of Commons

Viscounts' Eldest Sons

Earls' younger Sons

Barons' Eldest Sons

Knights of the Garter

Privy Counsellors

Chancellor of the Exchequer

Chancellor of the Dutchy of Lancaster

Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench

Master of the Rolls

Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas

Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer

Judges and Barons of the Degree of the Coife of the said Court according to Seniority

Bannerets made by the King himself in person under the royal standard displayed in an army royal in open war, for the term of their lives, and no longer

Viscounts' younger Sons

Barons' younger Sons

Baronets

Bannerets not made by the King himself

Knights Grand Crosses of the Bath

Knights Commanders of the Bath

Knights Bachelors

Eldest Sons of the younger Sons of Peers

Baronets' Eldest Sons

Knights of the Garters' Eldest Sons

Knights Grand Crosses of the Bath's Eldest Sons

Knights' Eldest Sons

Baronets' younger Sons

Companions of the Order of the Bath

Esquires of the King's Body

Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber

Esquires of the Knights of the Bath

Esquires by Creation

Esquires by Office    

Also, things are complicated by the fact that there are as many as five different peerages, depending upon what time you are talking about:

Before 1707:  Peers of England, Scotland, and Ireland
After 1707:  Peers of Great Britain and Ireland
After 1801:  Peers of the United Kingdom (and Ireland)

A peerage was considered to be "of England" or "of Ireland" depending upon the intentions of the granting monarch, and usually reflected in the location of the place from which the peer took his title.

Within each rank (e.g., dukes), Peers of England (created before 1707) precede peers of Scotland (created before 1707); together they precede peers of Great Britain (created between 1707 and 1801), who precede peers of Ireland (created before the Union of 1801), who precede peers of the United Kingdom (created after 1801), who precede peers of Ireland (created after the Union of 1801). The dates of creation further determine the order within each rank.(77)

So, for example, the barony of Castlemaine, created in 1812, was a peerage of Ireland, while Baron Colchester, created in 1817, was considered a peer of England. Lord Colchester would thus take precedence over Lord Castlemaine, even though the latter's title is older.

This order of precedence takes effect within each rank of the peerage; no marquess would ever precede a duke, for example, regardless of the peerages to which they belonged. The Irish Duke of Leinster ranks last on the list of dukes, but precedes the oldest English marquessate.

According to Debrett's Correct Form, "[a] dowager peeress, or widow of a baronet, takes precedence of the wife of the incumbent of the title only while remaining a widow." (So you have to hope your mother-in-law remarries someone of lower precedence if you want to sit above her at a formal dinner.)

Debrett's: "Precedence of ladies is always derived from the father or husband, except in the case of a peeress in her own right."(78) A wife bears a rank that is truly equal to her husband's in every respect except in actual comparison to him. She stands in the line of ladies in place of her husband. So the answer to the question is no: the baronesses are sorted out by date of creation, whether theirs or their husbands'.

It might help to think of it this way:  all of the barons and baronesses in their own right are standing in a line according to their dates of creation.  The barons are then joined by their wives, who join the line immediately behind their husbands and preceding the next baron (or baroness in her own right).  The husbands of the baronesses in their own right are left out in the cold.  Almost all of the baronesses in their own right are near the front of the line, since their baronies are among the most ancient, but they may be preceded by barons of older dignities and their wives.

Daughters of peers take the precedence, although not the equivalent title, of their eldest brother.(79) (See the explanation of parcener.) Since I haven't seen a "mixed" precedence table (only men or only women), I am guessing that only the eldest son of a peer actually took precedence over his sisters (and thus naturally his wife would too). He of course would take his father's next-highest title as a courtesy title. So it would make sense that a mere Lady Sarah would be outranked by her younger brother, the viscount. However, Lady's Sarah's other brothers do not outrank her; since she takes her eldest brother's precedence, she outranks all of her other brothers (and all of their wives). If she is the daughter of an earl, she even gets the courtesy title "Lady" while her other brothers are merely "The Honourable."

However, Winchester's bare statement that the daughters of peers "take the precedence, if not the equivalent title, of their eldest brother," leaves open an interesting (to my mind) question: is the daughter of the Duke of Richmond, whose eldest brother is a mere earl, subordinate to the daughter of the Duke of Marlborough, whose eldest brother is a marquess? Or does Richmond's daughter take precedence because Richmond's dignity is older?

There was a minor scandal when George III married. He had been enamoured of Lady Sarah Lennox, youngest daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond. He wanted to marry her, and it probably would have been a popular match (besides the fact he was besotted), because, among other things, she was descended from Charles II. In early Hanoverian politics this was a definite plus, as children of such a union could then claim some legitimacy through the Stuart line.  However, George's mother, the Dowager Princess of Wales, didn't see it that way; she and her minister, Lord Bute, decided it would be more to their liking to import a friendless German princess over whom they could exert control. Sarah's brother-in-law, Henry Fox (later 1st Lord Holland), had strenuously lobbied for the match with Sarah, and was therefore the reason for its failure -- Bute and the Dowager did not want Fox to have any influence at Court. Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg was duly imported.

But the rules of Precedence dictated that the Princess should be attended at her wedding by the highest-ranking unmarried lady in the land. Since there were no unmarried princesses, that meant the eldest unmarried daughter of the highest-ranking duke who had any unmarried daughters. That duke turned out to be the 2nd Duke of Richmond, and Lady Sarah was his only unmarried daughter. "Well, Sal," Fox wrote to Sarah, "you are the first vargin in England and you shall take your place in spite of them all as chief bridesmaid, and the King shall behold your pretty face and repent."(80)

So clearly, Richmond's daughters take precedence over Marlborough's, regardless of the rank of the secondary titles taken by their brothers.

Studying the Table again provides further logic supporting this answer. We have:

  Duchesses
Marchionesses
Wives of the eldest Sons of Dukes
Daughters of Dukes
Countesses
etc.  

I think that the reason "Wives of the eldest Sons of Dukes" is worded this way in the list helps to clarify this question. First, the wife of the eldest son of a duke whose courtesy title is Marquess is not, for purposes of precedence, a Marchioness. In other words, Marchionesses whose husbands are peers will always precede Marchionesses whose husbands hold their titles by courtesy. Secondly, the wife of the eldest son of a duke will precede all of the daughters of a duke, no matter what her husband's courtesy title is.

How mired can this get? Where is Sir Iain Montcrieffe of That Ilk when one needs him??

Notice that in the Table of Precedence the Princess of Wales, although she is only a consort, comes before the daughters of the monarch, who are "real" princesses by birth. Prince Philip's rank is above The Prince of Wales's, for the simple reason that the Queen proclaimed it so: "By Royal Warrant dated 18th September 1952, it was declared that H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh was henceforth to have precedence next to H.M. The Queen, thus having place before the Heir Apparent."(81) In the Table of Precedence for Women, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother has precedence next to the Queen and above the Princess of Wales.(82) It is unclear whether the Queen Mother precedes the Duke of Edinburgh, but if I had to guess I'd say she doesn't.

Another curious example of precedence getting mixed up by royal warrant is the case of the Viscountess Grandison. The 4th Viscount Grandison, George Villiers (uncle of Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, Charles II's mistress), was predeceased by his son and heir apparent, Edward, who died in 1693.(83) Edward's widow, Catherine, received a royal warrant dated 6 January 1699/1700, of the title and precedence of the Viscountcy, as if her husband had survived his father and had become Viscount.(84) She thus became Viscountess Grandison. She remarried later.(85) Then Debrett's notes: "she appears to have been insane for some time previous to her death. She died 26 December 1725, aged 63, and was buried in great state, 12 January 1725/26, in Westminster Abbey."(86)

Debrett's also has a footnote about her warrant:

  On to A Peeress "in her own right"


Table of Contents

Titles of Nobility In Britan
Peerage Basics
Hereditary Peerages, including Royal Titles
Life Peerages
Courtesy Titles
Rights and Privileges of Peers
Precedence
A Peeress "in her own right"
Dowager Peeresses
Entails, Marriage Settlements, and Dower
Correct Forms of Address
The 1st Duke of Marlborough
Links to other Sites
Bibliography
Notes


er own right"
Dowager Peeresses
Entails, Marriage Settlements, and Dower
Correct Forms of Address
The 1st Duke of Marlborough
Links to other Sites
Bibliography
Notes