Barons in Scotland

In Scotland, a baron is the head of a feudal barony, also known as a prescriptive barony. This used to be attached to a particular piece of land on which was situated the caput (Latin for "head") or essence of the barony, normally a building, such as a castle or manor house. Accordingly, the owner of the piece of land containing the caput was called a baron (or baroness). According to Grant, there were around 350 identifiable local baronies in Scotland by the early fifteenth century and these could mostly be mapped against local parish boundaries. The term baron was in general use from the thirteenth century to describe what would have been known in England as a knight of the shire.[1]

Ayton Castle, Scottish Borders, caput of the feudal barony of Ayton. Built in 1851 in the Scottish Baronial style by William Mitchell-Innes, then feudal baron of Ayton, to the design of James Gillespie Graham

The Court of the Lord Lyon issued a ruling in April 2015 that recognises a person possessing the dignity of baron and other feudal titles (lordship/earl/marquis). The Lord Lyon King of Arms now prefers the approach of recognizing the particular feudal noble dignity as expressed in the Crown Charter that the petitioner presents.[2] These titles are recognised as the status of a minor baron but not a peer. Scottish feudal baronies may be passed to any person, of either sex, by inheritance or conveyance.[3]

Scotland has a distinct legal system within the United Kingdom. Historically, in the Kingdom of Scotland, the Lord Lyon King of Arms, as the Sovereign's minister in matters armorial, is at once herald and judge. The Scottish equivalent of an English baron is a Lord of Parliament.