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Barons & Burkes Celebrate with a Bang and a Crack

Scottish Barons Celebrate a 'Bad' Day with their Dignity Intact

One of the final Declarators of the Barons' Courts of Prestoungrange & Dolphinstoun in 2004, before they lost their legal authority across their feudal lands, was to declare November 28th as Barons' Day in perpetuity. So it was with some curiosity that some 60+ celebrant Barons and their families gathered at The Caput of the Baronies, The Prestoungrange Gothenburg, for afternoon tea with the Burke's Peerage & Gentry editors followed by a Baronial Banquet + fireworks. What, they wondered, had the "ebullient Barons" [pace East Lothian Courier] in store for them?

Click on all images to enlarge

It certainly had not been the end of the Scottish Baronial traditions [characterised by a churlish minority as a miasma] after 1000 years in feudal authority last November 28th. No more stocks maybe, or 40/- amerciamentis... but the Act of the Scottish Parliament quite specifically preserved the Dignity of Baron and all its heraldic additaments - whatever that might mean to the layman, or even the Lord Lyon or Court of Session. But since the Prestoungrange Barony has over the past four centuries and more been held by no fewer than three Lords of Session and a Lord Advocate, there seemed every reason why it should give a lead with its own pragmatic meanings. After all, the final Session of any Scottish Baronial Court had issued the Declarator that celebrations were to be held in perpetuity. And furthermore in a series of judgements had set down how it interpreted the meanings of the Act.

Burke's Peerage Talking 20th Edition of its Landed Gentry: The Kingdom in Scotland 2007/2008

Anne Christie, Editorial Director, and John Hancock, Managing Editor, of Burke's both took advantage of the Baronial Gathering for the banquet to present their plans for the 20th Edition of the Landed Gentry: The Kingdom in Scotland, due for publication in 2007/ 2008. And to seek new articles for inclusion from those present, and potential sponsorship.

The 1999/ 2001 19th Edition had been published without the support of the Convention of the Baronage, which was reluctant to circulate proforma to its members. As such, this gathering had the opportunity to consider the possibility of joining a Burke's Scottish Barons Club to advance that cause. This suggestion was well received bearing in mind that Burke's had already made proper place for both Scottish Chiefs and feudal Barons in its 107th Edition of The Peerage and Baronetage in 2003/ 2004. Burke's had also declared its 100% support for the new Barony Register established under the direction of Andrew Rennie in addition to recognition by Lord Lyon through Grant of Arms with baronial additaments as accorded by the Act preserving the dignity.

Banquet well attended and well enjoyed by all!

After Burke's talking, the Barons, their Ladies, Youngers and guests were ready to sample the hospitality of the Caput, with a generous accompaniment of pipes from Prestonpans and District Pipes and Drums led by Jimmy King. The full programme for the day was elegantly set down and all attending were invited to sign the souvenir edition. Camilo, Baron of Fulwood and of Dirleton, had graciously struck a commemorative coin, and the Head Brewer Craig Allen had created a special Barons' Porter for the evening.

The tables were beautifully laid in the Thomas Nelson Suite under the direction of Steven Cross, Events Manager, who in the absence of Prestoungrange personally through illness, worked unstintingly all evening with Dolphinstoun to ensure the greatest possible enjoyment. Toasts, speeches, votes of thanks and of course fireworks at 10 pm across the Firth of Forth lit up the evening. Pictures were taken for the scrap book. Barons' Recommended Wines from New Zealand, Magaret River, South Africa, Spain, Suffolk and Ontario were quaffed. The guests donated generously and with good grace to the Barons' Courts Charity’s work.

And of course Prestoungrange Poet Laureate John Lindsay sought to have the last word with his Awful Tautology

Apologies and Reflections

The fullest attendance the Caput could comfortably accommodate, together with the heartfelt apologies of those unable to attend, ensured a magical evening. It was 'baronial party time' and a delight to be able to entertain and share the whole occasion required by the Declarator with so many fellow Barons; and the concluding fireworks on a perfect winter's evening were also shared with a good many Panners as well! Baroness Lag proposed to acclaim a Vote of Thanks to Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun, and all at their Caput, for their initiative and the manner in which the entire event had been organised.

All vowed it should happen again. Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun vowed it certainly would on their lands, every year to come at November 28th. More felt that Her Majesty's 80th Birthday should be especially honoured by a Baronial Banquet. But the abiding opinion was that it was greatly to be hoped that such events can in future also become an integral element of the activities of the re-forming Convention of the Baronage, whose 'new' Constitution for 2006 is awaited - as well as personal initiatives from Barons themselves.

P.S. ...but the final word in 2005 will perhaps go to Dr Stephen Clackson, indweller of Sanday in Orkney, who satirised both Scottish Barons' per se and our beloved Poet Laureate, in a scurrilous letter to the East Lothian Courier December 15th 2005. If the stocks has still been in use, he would of course never dared to make such defamatory comment!

Published Date: November 28th 2005

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