So our latest addition has been renamed The Marquess. Formerly TwoFlower, this lovely boat has now been repainted in our blue livery and just awaiting her name to be painted on the side by our sign-writer.

All boats are considered female as is any vessel carrying life. Cars, ships, instruments. So when referring to our narrowboats the correct pronoun is she or her, even with the masculine peer titles. I wonder what the next boat will be named?

The Marquess of England

Peers are of five ranks, in descending order of hierarchy:

  • Duke comes from the Latin dux, meaning ‘leader’. The first duke in a peerage of the British Isles was created in 1337. The feminine form is Duchess.
  • Marquess comes from the French marquis, which is a derivative of marche or march. This is a reference to the borders (‘marches’) between England, Scotland, and Wales, a relationship more evident in the feminine form, Marchioness. The first marquess in a peerage of the British Isles was created in 1385.
  • Earl comes from the Old English or Anglo-Saxon eorl, meaning a military leader. The meaning may have been affected by the Old Norse jarl, meaning a free-born warrior or nobleman, during the Danelaw, thus giving rise to the modern sense. Since there was no feminine Old English or Old Norse equivalent for the term, ‘Countess’ is used (an Earl is analogous to the Continental ‘count’), from the Latin comes. The rank was created circa 800–1000.
  • Viscount comes from the Latin vicecomes, meaning ‘vice-count’. The rank was created in 1440. The feminine form is Viscountess.
  • Baron comes from the Old Germanic baro, meaning ‘freeman’. The rank was created in 1066. In the Peerage of Scotland alone, a holder of the fifth rank is not called a ‘Baron’ but rather a ‘Lord of Parliament’. Barons in Scotland were traditionally holders of feudal dignities, not peers, but they are considered minor barons and are recognised by the crown as noble. And then we could have the Baroness.

Perhaps the next one will be The Duke, The Baron or The Viscount. Have you any suggestions?