What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

About the forum, Captain W.E. Johns and Biggles. Including samples of WEJ writing

What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 31 Jan 2018, 16:40

I’ve been delving into the depths of Wikipedia, with the odd visit to BBC Bite Size to check dates and also taken a little look at Debrett’s. I shall start off with a quick over view of how the British class system developed, throw in some explanation of who’s what in the aristocracy and then say what I think it means for Algy and Bertie.

Evolving class structure in England

Most countries have had some sort of feudal system in their past. A king was in charge with no restriction on his power; he was supported by his barons to whom he granted land and power (and removed it if they fell out of favour); the barons had knights who fought for them for rewards and the knights had peasants who did all the work, had no rights and were made to swear fealty for this privilege. These positions were ordained by god, the king ruled by divine right and everyone was supposed to be grateful to hold the position they did.

It’s never that simple! Anglo Saxon England had an elite Witan who chose and advised kings. A new king had to deal with the Witan selected by his predecessor and couldn’t put his own people in place until death created a space amongst the hereditary thanes or the elected-for-life prelates and aldermen. I find it fascinating that nearly 2000 years ago there was a distinction between hereditary peers and life peers, as we have now. Also, the Christian Church, from its earliest beginnings, challenged the authority of the crown and at times claimed authority over it (famously Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, who was murdered by the King for his views). The Church had huge influence and was very rich in money and land.

William the Conqueror dispossessed the Anglo-Saxons and gave their lands to his own followers and to those of the Anglo-Saxon elite willing to swear service to him and established the concept that all land titles were owned by the crown and held by his subjects by Royal Grant. He was a more absolute monarch than England was used to, and the class system held very firm for a few generations.

King John lost his authority over his barons and in 1215 was forced to sign the Magna Carta, which limited the King’s power and led to the beginnings of Parliament, which was to allow the barons to influence the King, not to allow the general populace a say in things. The Charter was only concerned with freemen and so didn’t affect the majority of the population who were peasants. Early writings by peasants suggest that they didn’t like being peasants. Writings by people further up the social hierarchy support the status quo and talk about the chivalric ideals.

The fourteenth century saw the Black Death, which killed about half the population of Europe. This led to the breakdown of the Feudal system because there was a great shortage of workers. The Peasant’s Revolt in 1381, although crushed at the time, led to an improvement in their circumstances over the next few decades. They could work for increased wages, where they pleased (ie they were no longer tied to one place by law) and could even marry as they wished. A leader of the Peasant’s Revolt questioned the ‘natural’ order of the ranks with ‘When Adam delved and Eve span, who then was the gentleman?’

The Age of Exploration led to the beginnings of the Middle Classes, as there was a growing need for clerks and so on to keep records of the burgeoning trade. Their numbers expanded further as the British Empire did, administrators and their staff being needed to run it. There is more movement between the social classes now, with a wider variety of occupations.

So, by late Victorian times, the move from rank, with its emphasis on the significance of birth to a class system, which also considered wealth important, has taken place. The Victorians were fond of the concept of the self-made man, and how people could rise to prominence if they educated themselves and worked hard. Sometimes the lower classes listened to these exhortations: mostly they held firmly to the belief that they should be satisfied with their station in life. It ought to be stated at this point, that no two people in Britain will define class the same way, and the difference in definitions is even greater when historians, sociologists and others of that ilk write about class. Social class can be defined in terms of occupation, family, education and wealth, often a mixture of all of them.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 31 Jan 2018, 16:42

Attempts to define class

A popular social grade classification was developed by the National Readership Survey and used widely last century.

Grade Occupation

A Higher managerial, administrative
B Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
C1 Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional
C2 Skilled manual workers
D Semi and unskilled manual workers
E Casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners and others who depend on the state for their income

So, by profession during the Air Police days, I’d say that Raymond would fall into category A, Biggles would be in B, Bertie, Algy, Ginger and Smyth C1.

If people are asked to stereotypically define class, then, from bottom to top, I think many people would be in general agreement with the following categories:

Underclass
Long term unemployed lacking many of the skills need to successfully hold down jobs in the modern era.

Un-skilled and semi-skilled working class
Those who leave school as soon as possible to work as manual labourers eg in car factories and in coal mines. De-industrialisation has removed many of their traditional jobs.

Skilled working class
Those who have completed apprenticeships in industry or a trade. They have skilled jobs and may be contractors.

Lower Middle class
Office workers, retail workers, small business owners.

Middle middle class
Teachers, doctors, accountants. People with degrees.

Upper middle class
Those educated at public schools, that don’t speak with a local accent and have upper class relatives. Can be thought of as posh.

Upper class
Very small in number. Those with a hereditary peerage, gentry and other hereditary landowners. Nanny, public school, commission in a prestigious Army regiment where every forebear for generations has reached at least the rank of general.

Some might argue that the Upper Middle class and the Upper class are the same thing.

By these broad definitions, I think Algy and Bertie would be counted as Upper Class, Biggles and Raymond as Upper Middle Class, Ginger and Smyth as Skilled Working Class.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 31 Jan 2018, 16:44

The English Aristocracy

Having established that Algy and Bertie can be described as Upper Class, it’s time to take a look at the British aristocracy.
The peerage, the aristocracy, the nobility, the gentry, the upper class, the elite, high society, the ruling class, the establishment and so on are basically synonyms.

The ranks within the English (it’s different in Scotland and Ireland) peerage are, from highest to lowest: duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron. These can be hereditary or life peerages. The creation of new hereditary peerages is very rare now but life peerages, created at the rank of baron, are quite common (twenty to thirty created most years). Until fairly recently, prime ministers were rewarded with an Earldom when they retired. Life peers can be created to reward someone who has held high office, to enable a politician to work in the House of Lords, or to reward other achievements in the various honours lists. There are over 800 peers who hold titles which may be inherited, but not all inheritable titles are peerage titles .

Baronets, who are addressed as Sir First Name have hereditary titles but are not part of the peerage.

Knights are created by either being members of certain orders of chivalry (eg the Order of the Garter) or for their services via the British Honours system. They are known as Sir First Name or Dame First Name if they are female. This is not a hereditary title. Wives of knights have the honorific Lady Surname but husbands of Dames don’t get a title. Knights are also not part of the peerage

The Peerage
Where I’ve given numbers, it excludes courtesy titles but I’m not sure if it includes secondary titles.

Duke/ Duchess
The highest rank below monarch, although some states are ruled by a Duke or Grand Duke. Dukes and Duchesses are addressed as Your Grace. William the Conqueror was Duke of Normandy before he attained the English throne. Queen Elizabeth is the Duke of Lancaster rather than the Duchess. The eldest son is given a subsidiary title of the father’s. This is a courtesy title. Younger sons are styled The Lord name / surname in writing. Daughters are styled The Lady name / surname. There are 24 non-royal dukes.

Marquess / Marchioness
There are currently 34 marquesses. Many are subsidiary titles held by Dukes. In speech, they are addressed as Lord Surname and Lady Surname. The only woman to be a Marquess in her own right was Anne Boleyn, who was made Marchioness of Pembroke before her marriage to Henry viii. The eldest son takes a subsidiary title of his father’s. Younger sons are styled The Lord name / surname in writing. Daughters are styled The Lady name / surname.

Earl/ Countess
An old title, Anglo Saxon in origin, the original Earls were provincial governors for the king. An Earl is addressed as Lord... and his wife as Lady... Eldest sons take a courtesy title, younger sons are The Honourable. This title is only used in reference, not in addressing the person. Daughters are The Lady.... There are 191 Earls.


Viscount / Viscountess
There are about 115 viscountcies in Britain, excluding courtesy titles. They are addressed as Lord ... and Lady.... Children, both sons and daughters, get the prefix The Honourable.

Baron / Baroness
William the Conqueror introduced this ranking to describe all who held land directly from the king by military service. They are referred to and addressed as Lord... and Lady ... Children of both hereditary and life barons and baronesses are referred to as The Honourable. There are 435 barons and Lords of Parliament (the Scottish equivalent).

Courtesy titles

One person can hold several titles. For example: The Duke of Arundel is also the Earl of Arundel and Baron Maltravers. His eldest son has no title of his own but borrows one of his father’s and is so styled Earl of Arundel (no ‘the’) If he had a son, the Duke’s grandson, he would receive the courtesy title Lord Maltravers.

Only the direct heir (usually eldest son) gets a courtesy title. It does not make him a peer as the title belongs to his father. (A grandson is a direct heir).

Wives get courtesy titles. The wife of the Earl of Arundel would be styled Countess of Arundel (no ‘the’).

Titles which could be confused with those of the father are not used as courtesy titles. The Duke of Westminster also holds the titles the Marquess of Westminster and The Earl Grosvenor. His son is styled Earl Grosvenor as it could cause confusion if he were to be called Marquess of Westminster, although the higher title usually takes precedence.

If a peer of the rank of Earl and above doesn’t hold a subsidiary title in a different name, then a non-peerage title of The Lord surname is used.

Younger sons of Earls and all children of viscounts, barons and lords of parliament have the written title The Honourable before their name.

In speech, holders of the appropriate titles are addressed as Lord... or Lady... regardless of whether it is a substantive or courtesy title.

Many people hold titles by courtesy rather than substantive titles of their own.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 31 Jan 2018, 16:45

Bertie and Algy

So, thinking about our boys. I’m going to ignore the possibility that they hold / are sons of Scottish / Irish titles because I think it remote, although possible.

‘Lord Lissie, Chedcombe Manor, Occupation gentleman’ (Looks Back)

A combe is a steep sided narrow valley through which a water course doesn’t run. Its mainly found in place names in southern and south western England . This suggests that Chedcombe Manor is in the south / south west.

‘My father and his father before him were well known stock breeders. Having plenty of land they did it as a sort of hobby.’ ‘He (Lord Dubray) often came to speak about it with my father’ Scores a Bull.

Lord Dubray of Framling Towers, Norfolk must live reasonably close to often pop in, although he could always be visiting in the area, but I see it as another reason to think that Bertie lives in the South of England. Additionally, Bertie says he knows Cornwall pretty well in Dark Intruder, and to be quite honest, I can think of no reason for Bertie to know Cornwall well if he doesn’t come from there. It’s not on the way to anywhere and Wikipedia tells me that cattle breeding was important in the interior of Cornwall and North Devon.

I deduce that Bertie cannot be a Duke because his father is dead so he holds a title which causes him to be addressed as ‘Lord’ in his own right: It is not a courtesy title. He could be a Marquess, an Earl, a Viscount, or a Baron. Marquesses aren’t particularly common so I’d go for an Earl or a Baron or possibly a Viscount. Thinking entirely stylistically, I think WEJ would have mentioned it if he thought of Bertie as being as far up the social scale as an Earl, so I’m going to plump for Baron, possibly Viscount.

Algy could be the younger son of an Earl, the son of a Viscount or the son of a Baron. As far as I’m aware, there is no positive evidence anywhere to suggest one of these options over another. Looking at what’s missing rather than what’s there, I can’t recall any suggestion that Algy is at all important in his own right: he’s never targeted because he has important relatives, von Stalhein doesn’t taunt him about his family, his address, in Flies Again, is Merioneth Towers, Merioneth, Merionethshire.

Merionethshire is an old coastal county in the northwest of Wales where they grow sheep, slate and mountains. It’s sparsely populated and one of the strongest Welsh speaking areas. The reach of the Marcher Lords only extended as far as its boundaries. It wasn’t a place where one of the great Marcher Earls would have installed a knight in feudal service, and it wasn’t part of the Welsh Marches although de Lacey is a common name in the history of the North West of England.

Harlech Castle is in Merionethshire, built by Edward 1 between 1282 and 1289, during his invasion of Wales. It was involved in several Welsh revolts, the War of the Roses and the English Civil War, after which it was encouraged to fall into disrepair. There’s an outside chance that Algy’s family settled in the area after involvement in one of these events.

A de Lacy (Laci, Lacie, Lascy, Lacey) did fight at the Battle of Hastings with William the Conqueror in 1066, who later awarded land to two brothers.

Ilbert got my bit of the world (I was in de Lacy house at school) and became Lord of Pontefract, Bowland and Clitheroe before it passed by marriage 300 years later to the Duchy of Lancaster.

Walter got the Lordship of Weobley in Herefordshire and was a leading baron in the Marches. The fourth Baron de Lacey was given extensive Irish holdings. I’m not sure how long they held onto their Welsh Marches holdings, but the Wikipedia page tells me that Family information can be obtained from "The Role of the House of de Lacy" by Edward de Lacy-Bellingary published 1928. There’s always a possibility that WE Johns read this and it inspired Algy’s name.

If Algy is an eldest son, then at some point he should have become Lord Lacey, as his father couldn’t live forever. He would retain his Honourable even after the death of his father as a younger son, though.

Another possibility is that Algy could have been a remote relative of the de Laceys who came over with the Conqueror, but a more recent relative, his father or grandfather, being raised to the peerage, for industrial prowess or manufacturing or martial exploits or politics. This is my favourite theory, based solely on the information that his address was Merioneth Towers and I associate that sort of house name with a Victorian monstrosity, all turrets and draughts and inconvenience, the sort built with new money in the Victorian era. The Marcher Lord connection explains the family’s original presence in / near Wales, the new wealth explains the house name and its remote location.

I’m going to go for younger son of a Baron for Algy, a fairly recent creation, although the family itself goes back to the conquest. If he is a younger son it explains why his title doesn’t change, it helps to explain why he joined up so young and was allowed to choose the RFC, why he could gallivant all over the world with Biggles, why he needed to work for a living and I just have a feeling that Bertie outranks him from the way WEJ has written about them.

I look forward to your theories!
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Frecks » 31 Jan 2018, 16:58

Wow what a lot of in depth research - that is absolutely fascinating Kismet. I agree Bertie would out rank Algy. I wonder just how much thought WEJ gave to their titles when he wrote about them. When was the last time WEJ called Algy Honourable?
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby kylie_koyote » 31 Jan 2018, 17:20

Thank you for this, Kismet. A fascinating read.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Fairblue » 31 Jan 2018, 22:34

Excellent research, Kismet. You are very brave entering the minefield of the Peerage and British Nobility. Naturally, my first thoughts are of Bertie. :love:


There are indications in Plane That Disappeared that Bertie certainly owns fairly substantial property

“What do you do for a living?”
Bertie forced a sort of apologetic smile. “Matter of fact, I don’t have to do anything.”
“You mean, you’re independent?”
"I own some property in the country the rents of which produce enough petty cash to keep me out of the National Assistance queue.”


But then again, wealth doesn't necessarily mean a higher rank. There have been impoverished Dukes and rich Barons, but from what we can glean from the books I think we can conclude that Bertie is 'old money'.

Of Algy, I'm not so sure. I need to think about him a bit more.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 31 Jan 2018, 23:35

I think I'm very brave to tackle this, too, FB.

I agree that I think of Bertie as from an old family. I've realised that he has to be an eldest son, otherwise he wouldn't have inherited the title. An obvious point but one I should have made.

I've a feeling that I'm missing something obvious, that I'm looking at the detail and missing the elephant in front of me.

I don't think that WEJ paid much attention to the titles he was issuing, Frecks. I think he was writing at the start of his career in an age when heroes were supposed to be upper class and aristocratic and he automatically threw the odd title in to conform with the stereotype. Bertie had stopped using his title by the later books when it had become unfashionable to have aristocratic heroes and I can't recall Algy being The Honourable later than the second world war, although I am not sure of this.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Frecks » 01 Feb 2018, 09:06

The only other fictional aristocratic family I know is the Whimsy family. Lord Peter was a younger son, his older brother was the Duke of Devonshire whose son was Viscount St. George and Peter was a Lord. Peter Whimsy owned a lot of property and made his money from the rents. I do not think he had any inherited wealth as such. I do not know how much research Dorothy L. Sayers did when she invented Lord Peter but she did often make the point that Lord Peter was very concerned about Viscount St. George's health as he did not want to inherit the title himself.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Tracer » 01 Feb 2018, 11:24

I love Peter Wimsey's character! He is old money, and returned from WW1 with what we would now call PTSD. His sergeant/batman, a footman before the war so he knew his way around aristos and etiquette, turned up at the Wimsey mansion announcing he's come to look after his officer, and did so, becoming his valet and slowly bringing him out of his depression, albeit finding that it was one to which PW would return at the apex of his success with each detective story. The latter was sensitively handled by Dorothy Sayers, and well ahead of its time - I suspect personal knowledge.

Kismet, thank you for that superb research. Bertie IMO had all the born-to-it gentleman's sports and attitudes, and I suspect was put into the stories so that the Gingers reading them might understand there can be a lot more essential good, courage and loyalty in a character who appears at first glance to be lightweight. Algy IMO was a classic son of industry/money marrying title, hence the Merioneth property, and the result being excellent.

I think that after the Wars there was a lot more willing social tolerance as well as mobility, and so WEJ chose his characters to show that essential qualities of courage, grit and honesty could meld into a terrific team no matter how different their backgrounds.

It's important to remember that aristos and working class historically got on very well with each other, as the children from the Big 'Ouse would be in and out of kitchen, stables and gamekeeper's lodge as they grew up. It's the middle classes that have always had to work at fitting in.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby kylie_koyote » 01 Feb 2018, 12:42

Do you use Honourable for judges in England?

Not that I think this applies to Algy, mind you, just asking.

Also, Algy gets that postcard from EVS, addressed to A. Lacey, Esq. We use "Esq." for attorneys.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Frecks » 01 Feb 2018, 12:46

Esq. is an old fashioned way of addressing gentlemen in the UK. They do not have to be titled or have a certain job. It is not used now as far as I know. Judges are referred to as "Your Honour" - at least in the TV shows I have watched. I am not sure whether they are actually titled Honourables.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Fairblue » 01 Feb 2018, 12:57

kylie_koyote wrote:Do you use Honourable for judges in England?

Not that I think this applies to Algy, mind you, just asking.

Also, Algy gets that postcard from EVS, addressed to A. Lacey, Esq. We use "Esq." for attorneys.


Esquire is a courtesy title used for addressing gentlemen in correspondence, and on letterheads of men in professional capacity etc, but I believe it is not used as much these days.
We do call judges Honourable and Members of Parliament 'The Right Honourable', as a result of the office they hold, but only when referring to them in the third person. Algy, of course, had his by right of birth.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 01 Feb 2018, 13:01

Judges have different titles depending on what sort of judge they are.
'the judiciary website has a very useful list, which notes that while magistrates can be addressed as “Your Worship”, Crown Court judges as “Your Honour” and appeal court judges as “My Lord”/”My Lady”, most judges are plain old “Sir” or “Madam”.'

Esquire is used instead of Mr, but I'm not quite sure why. I would suggest that Von Stalhein didn't want to draw attention to his post card by addressing it the The Honourable A Lacey, couldn't bring himself to wrongly address it as Mr A Lacey and so compromised on A Lacey esquire. I think of esquire as being posher than mister. I might do some googling to find out more.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Fairblue » 01 Feb 2018, 14:06

Kismet wrote:Judges have different titles depending on what sort of judge they are.
'the judiciary website has a very useful list, which notes that while magistrates can be addressed as “Your Worship”, Crown Court judges as “Your Honour” and appeal court judges as “My Lord”/”My Lady”, most judges are plain old “Sir” or “Madam”.'


I see them as styles of address, not a title as such. Yet another minefield to head down, if we were so inclined.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 01 Feb 2018, 14:13

Fairblue wrote:
Kismet wrote:Judges have different titles depending on what sort of judge they are.
'the judiciary website has a very useful list, which notes that while magistrates can be addressed as “Your Worship”, Crown Court judges as “Your Honour” and appeal court judges as “My Lord”/”My Lady”, most judges are plain old “Sir” or “Madam”.'


I see them as styles of address, not a title as such. Yet another minefield to head down, if we were so inclined.

You are quite correct. I've used the word 'title' when I should have used 'form of address'. There are some nice little tables here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_ ... _and_Wales laying out office, judicial title, form of address in court, form of address out of court, private title and private form of address for members of the judiciary.
I have had coffee now, so my accuracy should improve.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Tracer » 01 Feb 2018, 17:19

Coffee is essential to any research project :coffee:

Among my father's friends, "esquire" was used in correspondence between fellow ex-officers who had "hung up their rank with their uniform". It was considered rather de trop to be referred to by one's military rank once one had become a civilian. Nowadays of course that is not looked down upon at all.

I think it was a reverse form of snobbery, rather in the same way that hospital consultants are plain "Mr." rather than "Doctor", but I'm sure if I'm wrong, someone else will know better.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby HostileCacti » 02 Feb 2018, 10:52

I love this!! :love: :claphappy:

This is the sort of thing I really need and like and always think I should do but *never* do :shock: :oops:

It's sooooo great that there are so many people here who actually manages to do this sort of thing *and* share it!!! :okbiggles:


So :thanks: Kismet, and everyone else!!
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Tommy Smith » 02 Feb 2018, 12:05

Which Algy? I have just found
The Honourable Algernon Knox, Accidenital Detective by Edward Phillips Oppenheim - 1920 There seems to have been a fair few around at the time.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 02 Feb 2018, 14:40

Tommy Smith wrote:Which Algy? I have just found
The Honourable Algernon Knox, Accidenital Detective by Edward Phillips Oppenheim - 1920 There seems to have been a fair few around at the time.


Dash. Lots of his books are available on Project Gutenberg and Open Library, but not that one. Another prolific novelist of whom I was unaware.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Tommy Smith » 02 Feb 2018, 14:50

"Spare my days! Who wants to be true to life? Why read about what you can see going on around you any day of the week?"
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 02 Feb 2018, 17:21

Lovely, thank you.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Babanango » 02 Feb 2018, 23:07

Tracer wrote:Coffee is essential to any research project :coffee:

Among my father's friends, "esquire" was used in correspondence between fellow ex-officers who had "hung up their rank with their uniform". It was considered rather de trop to be referred to by one's military rank once one had become a civilian. Nowadays of course that is not looked down upon at all.

I think it was a reverse form of snobbery, rather in the same way that hospital consultants are plain "Mr." rather than "Doctor", but I'm sure if I'm wrong, someone else will know better.


In the US military, and I think this is the case in the UK as well, retired officers of senior rank (major and above) can officially use their rank in retirement. Few do here, though. Officers below that level can’t use their rank once out of service. I’ve wondered at this, since WEJ referred to himself as “captain”. I know it’s a higher rank than he actually held, but even then, only a Royal Navy “captain” would officially be allowed to use his rank in retirement. An army captain or air force flight lieutenant would not be able to use their rank “officially” once they are back in civilian life.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 02 Feb 2018, 23:18

I wonder if 'good practice' has changed over the last hundred years? The ex army officer I know socially never uses his rank, but the Chair of my school's governors was Colonel King-Wilkinson and always appeared as such in the Speech Day programme.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Fairblue » 02 Feb 2018, 23:20

Babanango wrote:
In the US military, and I think this is the case in the UK as well, retired officers of senior rank (major and above) can officially use their rank in retirement. Few do here, though. Officers below that level can’t use their rank once out of service. I’ve wondered at this, since WEJ referred to himself as “captain”. I know it’s a higher rank than he actually held, but even then, only a Royal Navy “captain” would officially be allowed to use his rank in retirement. An army captain or air force flight lieutenant would not be able to use their rank “officially” once they are back in civilian life.


You are right, Babs. It is the same here in the UK. I did read somewhere that WEJ styled himself Captain Johns when writing some books and not others, perhaps appealing to the fancy of his audience,. I also noticed, courtesy of DrB’s excellent archives, that WEJ’s agent addressed him as Captain Johns when writing to him. The question is, did WEJ style himself as Captain in his everyday life?
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Babanango » 03 Feb 2018, 00:03

I find the British use of marks of status to be fascinating: hereditary and granted titles, coats of arms, lengthy strings of post-nominal letters (awards, degrees, societies, etc.), and physical items such as school/regimental ties.

Here in the USA at our founding the common folk didn’t have much use for these things, and the US Constitution prohibits the granting of “titles of nobility” by Federal or State governments. The USA was meant to be a land of “fellow servants”, as a popular song from our revolution termed it.

What titles we have here are mainly professional or political, e.g., doctor, mayor, governor, senator. As KK pointed out, “esquire” is reserved for lawyers. Rarely, these titles are taken into retirement, but the only ones I can think of are governor, senator, president, etc., as applied to retired politicians, so Bill Clinton is still officially addressed as “President Clinton”.

A few US States do grant “titles”, such as “Colonel” in Kentucky, “Admiral” in Nebraska, or "Sagamore" in Indiana. These are generally awards for public service, and often purposely tongue-in-cheek (Nebraska is land-locked, so a Nebraska Admiral is purposely nonsensical). So we in the USA do have a tendency to laugh at the British use of titles.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Kismet » 03 Feb 2018, 01:05

I think our school ties are only really the equivalent of your letter jackets or the honour thing that I don't really understand at university, phi beta kappa etc, Babs. A same but different thing.

One of my daughter's friends had an American mother, and she always said she was amazed at how inclusive our school was: we didn't split off into jocks and geeks and all the other social groups we saw on American TV series which I thought must be much exaggerated but she said wasn't. I think people like to find ways to make it easy to recognise people with similar interests and achievements. We do it with school ties or rugby shirts announcing which team we support.

In my experience, with the development of a less formal society, people use the letters after their name much less these days. I tend to associate it with angry people writing to broadsheet newspapers announcing their qualifications to ram home that they have an informed opinion, but I'm an insider to British society, so there will be plenty of things that I am so used to I don't notice that you will when you visit us.

Keep on sharing the things that you notice! I think it's really interesting to see what you think of as different.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Babanango » 03 Feb 2018, 01:07

Kismet wrote:Bertie and Algy

I look forward to your theories!


I can’t provide any theory that’s better thought out than your own, Kismet. The only thing I might offer is that Bertie might NOT say he “knows Cornwall quite well” if he was from there. That sounds to my ear like someone not from an area but who has visited frequently. So I would go for an origin in Devon, Somerset, or Dorset (keeping with the southwest theory).

I did a search using the surname search tool at http://named.publicprofiler.org/, but got no hits for the name “Lissie”. I tried a number of variations, such as Lissey, Lissee, Lessey, etc. The only one that returned a result was “Lessey”, showing the name most prominently in Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire.

One thing that struck me though, is how phonetically close “Lissie” is to “Lacey”.
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Fairblue » 03 Feb 2018, 01:27

A quick search of Ancestry.co.uk shows that there were de Lissies in the Channel Islands in the 1800s. Also Lissies in Ireland, England and including , I am pleased to note, my own town of Arbroath, in Scotland. I can see none for the South-west of England. Some are listed in the Immigration & Travel records as going to Argentina and New York, from Liverpool and Tilbury so their home towns are not given.

https://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/s ... 1&uidh=ukj
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Re: What sort of an Honourable is Algy?

Postby Spitfire666 » 04 Feb 2018, 11:01

Babanango wrote:
I can’t provide any theory that’s better thought out than your own, Kismet. The only thing I might offer is that Bertie might NOT say he “knows Cornwall quite well” if he was from there. That sounds to my ear like someone not from an area but who has visited frequently. So I would go for an origin in Devon, Somerset, or Dorset (keeping with the southwest theory).

Or it could be just understatement. WEJ said he got in trouble for telling a Frenchman he played a little tennis, then demolishing him. The chap said he should have admitted he was first class. “Quite well” might mean “very well indeed”. :)
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