Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Four Great Ulster Marquessates

A marquess is the second-highest rank in the Peerage, after duke and above earl. A marquess's robe has four bars of ermine on the right and three on the left. Peers have two kinds of robe, a coronation robe of crimson velvet lined with miniver and a parliamentary robe (for those now-gone days when they all sat in the House of Lords) of scarlet lined with taffeta.

The 5th Earl of Lichfield - the late Patrick Lichfield, photographer - is pictured in his coronation robe, holding his coronet, below.

A marquess's coronet, pictured above, is a golden circlet with four strawberry leaves around it (pointing up from it), alternating with four silver balls (called pearls) on points. The coronet itself is chased as if in the form of jewels (like a royal crown) but is not actually jewelled. It has a purple cap (lined ermine) in real life and a crimson one in heraldic representation. It has a gold tassel on top. The alternation of strawberry leaves and pearls is what distinguishes a marquess's coronet from those of other ranks.

The four great marquessates in the Peerage associated with Ulster have been as follows:-

The Marquess of Downshire
- creation 1789. Heir: Earl of Hillsborough; heir's eldest son: Viscount Kilwarlin. County Down landowner. 115,000 acres.

The Marquess of Donegall - creation 1791. Heir: Earl of Belfast; heir's eldest son: Viscount Chichester. Landlord of Belfast. 250,000 acres, mostly in County Antrim.

The Marquess of Londonderry - creation 1816. Heir: Viscount Castlereagh; heir's eldest son: Lord Stewart. County Down landowner. 27,000 acres.

The Marquess of Dufferin and Ava
- creation 1888. Heir: Earl of Ava; heir's eldest son: Viscount Clandeboye. County Down landowner. Marquessate extinct 1988. 18,000 acres.

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