False titles of nobility are claimed titles of social rank that have been fabricated or assumed by an individual or family without recognition by the authorities of a country in which titles of nobility exist or once existed. They have received an increasing amount of press attention, as more schemes that purport to confer or sell such honorifics are promoted on the internet. Concern about the use of titles which lack legal standing or a basis in tradition has prompted increased vigilance and denunciation, although under English common law a person may choose to be known by any name they see fit as long as it is not done to "commit fraud or evade an obligation."
Outside monarchies, a distinction is drawn between a legitimate historical title which may no longer be recognised by a successor state (such as a republic) but is borne or claimed by a hereditary heir, and an invented or falsely-attributed noble title that is claimed without any historical basis.
Self-assumption of a title is not necessarily illegal: it depends on the law of the place where the title is used. The bearers of some self-assumed titles do not claim that such titles have been recognised by any nation at any time. Where such titles have existed historically, the current bearer may make no claim that its use is pursuant to a hereditary grant to an ancestor by a fount of honor.
Some individuals, associations or corporations purport to grant or transmit a legal or official right to a title, honour, acknowledgement or membership in a self-styled order of chivalry simply in exchange for a payment.
The British peerage includes the titles of (in ascending order) baron, viscount, earl, marquess and duke. All of these titleholders, except dukes, are (if male) known by the honorific "Lord" (in Scotland the lowest rank in the peerage is "Lord (of Parliament)" rather than "Baron"). No peerage can be sold; such a transaction would be in breach of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925. The British embassy in the United States informs that "the sale of British titles is prohibited".
Baronetcies are hereditary titles granted by the Crown, but are not part of the peerage. Baronets are styled "Sir" with the suffix "Bt." or "Bart." after their surname. Baronetcies can no longer be purchased, and existing ones cannot be bought or sold.
Persons who have been enrolled in an order of chivalry or dubbed are knights or dames, and are thus entitled to the prefix of "Sir" or "Dame". These titles cannot be bought or sold either.
The holder of a peerage, baronetcy or knighthood may not lawfully transfer those titles or any title associated with them to another individual. If a peerage is renounced, it devolves automatically upon the heir-at-law, usually based upon primogeniture: the incumbent has no right to designate a successor to the title.
The title lord of the manor is a feudal title. The owner of a Lordship of the Manor is known as: personal name, Lord/Lady of the Manor of [place name].According to the style guide Debrett's a person owning a title of Lord of the Manor (or its Scottish equivalent - Laird) is properly titled "The Much Honoured" and simply referring to them as Mr and Miss is "incorrect".
There are three elements to a manor:
These three elements may exist separately or be combined; however the lordship of a manor may be held in moieties and may not be subdivided; this is prohibited by the Statute of Quia Emptores preventing subinfeudation. However the second and third elements can be subdivided.
In many cases the title lord of the manor may no longer have any land or rights. In such cases the title is known as an "incorporeal hereditament". Before the Land Registration Act 2002 it was possible to register lordship titles; most did not seek to register. Since 13 October 2003 one cannot apply for first registration of a title of a manor, however dealings in previously registered titles remain subject to compulsory registration with HM Land Registry. A frequent criticism of the lordships sold at auction is that statutory declarations are relied upon to substitute for missing historical deeds and transfer documents which would, in some cases, demonstrate that the manor in question either no longer exists, can no longer be identified definitively or is not available for sale.