Life Peerages

The Life Peerage Act of 1958 allowed the government to create life peerages.(40) This was the result of much disgust with the way hereditary peerages had been passed out in the previous forty years. A life peerage grants all of the privileges of an hereditary peerage to the recipient, including a seat in the House of Lords -- except that it cannot be passed on to the recipient's children, although they are granted the courtesy form of address (for the duration of their own lives) as if their parent's peerage was hereditary. Most life peerages granted under the Act have been baronies. (Prior to the 1956 act, the only life peerage granted to a man was in 1856, when Lord Wensleydale was created a life Peer. However, the Privileges Committee of the House of Lords decided that this life peerage did not entitle Lord Wensleydale to sit in the House.(41))

Mrs. Thatcher was granted a life peerage only as a baroness,(42) so she is now properly known as Baroness Thatcher and addressed as Lady Thatcher. But her children will not inherit the title, although they are properly addressed as "The Hon." and will continue to do so after their mother dies.(43)

However, life peerages have been granted for centuries. Usually they were granted to women, for example, the many ennobled mistresses of Charles II.(44) Of course, a life peerage granted to a woman carried with it no seat in the House of Lords. (See Peeresses.)
On to Courtesy Titles

If you dispute a fact from these pages, please contact me, and if you can, provide a contradicting source. These pages are a work in progress and I expect them to change in the future, although what I present today is as accurate as I can make it.

Laura A. Wallace
15 December 1997

Table of Contents

Peerage Basics
Hereditary Peerages, including Royal Titles
Life Peerages
Courtesy Titles
Rights and Privileges of Peers
A Peeress "in her own right"
Dowager Peeresses
Entails, Marriage Settlements, and Dower
Almack's (coming soon!)
Biographical Details of Real Regency People (coming soon!)

Correct Forms of Address
The 1st Duke of Marlborough
Links to other Sites