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  The Convention of  

 The Baronage of Scotland 


Table of Precedence

Scottish feudal Barons are members of the nobility but not members of the peerage. Statutes of 1592 and the Baronetcy Warrants of Charles I show the non-peerage Table of Precedence as:

   1. Baronets,  2. Knights,  3. Barons/Lairds,  4. Esquires,  5. Gentlemen.

Clan chiefs are considered to be esquires unless they hold a barony (which most of them did in former times), and this is indicated by the style of helmet, "befitting his degree", granted to a chief by Lyon Court. In Debrett’s Correct Form, the late Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Bt, in discussing the status of Scottish chiefs said:"Some are feudal barons, in addition, with precedence before esquires."

The earliest arms on record in Scotland are for barons/chiefs at the head of Lowland families, although the adoption of coats of arms spread rapidly to the Highlands, as it had done throughout Europe in the 12-13th centuries. The first chieftain on record is a Lowland title.

The title of chief of the name in the Lowlands or chief of the clan in the Highlands descended in the blood line, while barony titles were linked to the great estates, which could be bought and sold. Over the centuries, most of the chiefs became separated from their landholdings. Numerous baronies today can still trace their origins to Royal charters of the 13th and 14th centuries, but many chiefs, even of famous names (Macpherson, Mackintosh, MacMillan, MacNab, Mackinnon) have precedence only from the late 17th century, or even as late as the 19th century, when their arms were recorded by Lyon Court.