In England, Wales and Ireland a county palatine or palatinatewas an area ruled by a hereditary nobleman enjoying special authority and autonomy from the rest of a kingdom or empire. The name derives from the Latin adjective palātīnus, "relating to the palace", from the noun palātium, "palace". It thus implies the exercise of a quasi-royal prerogative within a county, that is to say a jurisdiction ruled by an earl, the English equivalent of a count. A duchy palatine is similar but is ruled over by a duke, a nobleman of higher precedence than an earl or count.
The nobleman swore allegiance to the king yet had the power to rule the county largely independently of the king. It should therefore be distinguished from the feudal barony, held from the king, which possessed no such independent authority. Rulers of counties palatine created their own feudal baronies, to be held directly from them in capite , such as the Barony of Halton.County palatine jurisdictions were created in England under the rule of the Norman dynasty. In continental Europe, they have an earlier date.
In general, when a palatine-type autonomy was granted to a lord by the sovereign, it was in a district on the periphery of the kingdom, at a time when the district was at risk from disloyal armed insurgents who could retreat beyond the borders and re-enter. For the English sovereign in Norman times this applied to northern England, Wales and Ireland. As the authority granted was hereditary, some counties palatine legally survived well past the end of the feudal period.
Palatinates emerged in England in the decades following the Norman conquest, as various earls or bishops were granted palatine ("from the palace") powers, i.e. powers of a sort elsewhere exercised by the king. In some places this may have been in part a defensive measure, enabling local authorities to organise the defence of vulnerable frontier areas at their own discretion, avoiding the delays involved in seeking decisions from court and removing obstructions to the coordinated direction of local resources at the discretion of a single official. However, palatine powers were also granted over areas such as the Isle of Ely which were not near any frontier.
Palatine powers over Cheshire were acquired by the Earls of Chester, a title which has since 1254 been reserved for the heir apparent to the throne (apart from a brief tenure in 1264–1265 by Simon de Montfort, who had seized control of government from Henry III). Chester had its own parliament, consisting of barons of the county, and was not represented in Parliament until 1543, while it retained some of its special privileges until 1830.
Exceptional powers were also granted to the Bishops of Durham, who during the aftermath of the Norman conquest had been put in charge of secular administration in what became County Durham. The autonomous power exercised by these ‘prince-bishops’ over the County Palatine of Durham was particularly enduring: Durham did not gain parliamentary representation until 1654, while the bishops of Durham retained their temporal jurisdiction until 1836. The bishop's mitre which crowns the bishop of Durham's coat of arms is encircled with a gold coronet which is otherwise used only by dukes, reflecting his historic dignity as a palatine earl.
Palatine powers over Lancashire were conferred on the first Duke of Lancaster in 1351, at the same time as his promotion from the status of earl. This was only the second dukedom created in England, following that of Cornwall in 1337, which also became associated with palatine powers. The dukedom was united with the Crown on the accession of Henry IV in 1399, but the vast estates of the Duchy of Lancaster were never assimilated into the Crown Estate, continuing even today to be separately administered for the monarch as Duke of Lancaster. The rights exercised through the Duchy, rather than the Crown, included its palatine powers over Lancashire, the last of which were revoked only in 1873. In the county palatine of Lancaster, the loyal toast is to "the Queen, Duke of Lancaster".
The king's writs did not run in these three palatine counties until the nineteenth centuryand, until the 1970s, Lancashire and Durham had their own courts of chancery. (See Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster and Court of Chancery of the County Palatine of Durham and Sadberge)
The appeal against a decision of the county court of a county palatine had, in the first instance, to be to the court of common of that county palatine.
There are two kings in England, namely, the lord king of England wearing a crown and the lord bishop of Durham wearing a mitre in place of a crown ...
At various times in history the following areas had palatinate status: Shropshire, Kent, the Isle of Ely, Hexhamshire in Northumberland, and, in Wales, the Earldom of Pembroke(until the passing of the Laws in Wales Act 1535).
Although not formally categorised as a palatinate, in Cornwall many of the rights associated with palatinates were conferred on the Duke of Cornwall, a title created in 1337 and always held by the heir apparent to the throne.
In the history of Wales in the Norman era, the term most often used is Marcher Lord, which is similar to, but not strictly the same as, a Palatine Lord. Nevertheless, a number of strictly Palatine jurisdictions were created in Wales.
There were several palatine districts in Ireland of which the most notable were those of the Earls of Desmond and the Earls of Ormond in County Tipperary. The latter continued in existence until it was abolished by the County Palatine of Tipperary Act 1715.
In Scotland, the earldom of Strathearn was identified as a county palatine in the fourteenth century, although the title of Earl of Strathearn has usually been merged with the crown in subsequent centuries and there is little indication that the status of Strathearn differed in practice from other Scottish earldoms.
In the colonies, the historic Province of Avalon in Newfoundland was granted palatine status, as was Maryland under Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore.
The trusted source on British social skills, etiquette, and style-Debrett's
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Earl is a rank of the nobility in Britain. The title originates in the Old English word eorl, meaning "a man of noble birth or rank". The word is cognate with the Scandinavian form jarl, and meant "chieftain", particularly a chieftain set to rule a territory in a king's stead. In Scandinavia, it became obsolete in the Middle Ages and was replaced by duke (hertig/hertug/hertog). After the Norman Conquest, it became the equivalent of the continental count. However, earlier in Scandinavia, jarl could also mean a sovereign prince. For example, the rulers of several of the petty kingdoms of Norway had the title of jarl and in many cases they had no less power than their neighbours who had the title of king. Alternative names for the rank equivalent to "earl" or "count" in the nobility structure are used in other countries, such as the hakushaku (伯爵) of the post-restoration Japanese Imperial era.
The Duke of Lancaster is the titular owner of the estates of the Duchy of Lancaster and head of the County Palatine of Lancaster. It is also an ancient title that is informally used within Lancaster to describe Elizabeth II, the monarch of the United Kingdom. The Duchy of Lancaster exists as a separate entity from the Crown Estate and currently provides income for the British monarch. The title merged with the crown as a result of the House of Lancaster's participation in the Wars of the Roses.
A Marcher Lord was a noble appointed by the King of England to guard the border between England and Wales.
Earl of Derby is a title in the Peerage of England. The title was first adopted by Robert de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Derby, under a creation of 1139. It continued with the Ferrers family until the 6th Earl forfeited his property toward the end of the reign of Henry III and died in 1279. Most of the Ferrers property and the Derby title were then held by the family of Henry III. The title merged in the Crown upon Henry IV's accession to the throne in 1399.
The Earldom of Chester was one of the most powerful earldoms in medieval England, extending principally over the counties of Cheshire and Flintshire. Since 1301 the title has generally been granted to heirs apparent to the English throne, and from the late 14th century it has been given only in conjunction with that of Prince of Wales.
The hereditary peers form part of the peerage in the United Kingdom. As of 2021 there are 810 hereditary peers: 30 dukes, 34 marquesses, 191 earls, 112 viscounts, and 443 barons.
The now-extinct title of Earl of Richmond was created many times in the Peerage of England. The earldom of Richmond was initially held by various Breton nobles associated with the Ducal crown of Brittany; sometimes the holder was the Breton Duke himself, including one member of the cadet branch of the French Capetian dynasty. The historical ties between the Ducal crown of Brittany and this English Earldom were maintained ceremonially by the Breton dukes even after England ceased to recognize the Breton Dukes as Earls of England and those dukes rendered homage to the King of France, rather than the English crown. It was then held either by members of the English royal families of Plantagenet and Tudor, or English nobles closely associated with the English crown. It was eventually merged into the English crown during the reign of Henry VII and has been recreated as a Dukedom.
The title of Earl of Lancaster was created in the Peerage of England in 1267. It was succeeded by the title Duke of Lancaster in 1351, which expired in 1361.
Lancashire is a county of England, in the northwest of the country. The county did not exist in 1086, for the Domesday Book, and was apparently first created in 1182, making it one of the youngest of the traditional counties.
The constitutional status of Cornwall has been a matter of debate and dispute. In modern times, Cornwall is an administrative county of England.
A high sheriff is a ceremonial officer for each shrieval county of England and Wales and Northern Ireland or the chief sheriff of a number of paid sheriffs in U.S. states who outranks and commands the others in their court-related functions. In Canada, the High Sheriff provides administrative services to the supreme and provincial courts.
Unowned property refers to tangible, physical things which are capable of being reduced to being property owned by an individual but are not owned by anyone. Bona vacantia is a legal concept associated with the unowned property, which exists in various jurisdictions, with a consequently varying application, but with origins mostly in English law.
A feudal baron is a vassal holding a heritable fief called a barony, comprising a specific portion of land, granted by an overlord in return for allegiance and service. Following the end of European feudalism, feudal baronies have largely been superseded by baronies held as a rank of nobility, without any attachment to a fief. However, in Scotland, the feudal dignity of baron remains in existence, and may be bought and sold independently of the land to which it was formerly attached.
The Diocese of Durham is a Church of England diocese, based in Durham, and covering the historic County Durham. It was created in AD 635 as the Diocese of Lindisfarne. The cathedral is Durham Cathedral and the bishop is the Bishop of Durham who used to live at Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, and still has his office there. The diocese's administrative centre, the Diocesan Office, is located at Cuthbert House, Stonebridge just outside Durham City. This was opened in 2015.
The County Palatine of Durham was an area in the North of England that was controlled by the Bishop of Durham.
The barony of Halton, in Cheshire, England, comprised a succession of 15 barons who held under the overlordship of the County Palatine of Chester ruled by the Earl of Chester. It was not therefore an English feudal barony which was under full royal jurisdiction, which is the usual sense of the term, but a separate class of barony within a palatinate. After the Norman conquest, William the Conqueror created three earldoms to protect his border with Wales, namely Shrewsbury, Hereford and Chester. Hugh Lupus was appointed Earl of Chester and he appointed his cousin, Nigel of Cotentin, as the first baron of Halton. Halton was a village in Cheshire which is now part of the town of Runcorn. At its centre is a rocky prominence on which was built Halton Castle, the seat of the barons of Halton; the castle is now a ruin.
The Honour of Richmond in north-west Yorkshire, England was granted to Count Alan Rufus by King William the Conqueror sometime during 1069 to 1071, although the date is uncertain. It was gifted as thanks for his services at the Conquest. The extensive district was previously held by Edwin, Earl of Mercia who died in 1071. The district is probably mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 but its limits are uncertain.
In the kingdom of England, a feudal barony or barony by tenure was the highest degree of feudal land tenure, namely per baroniam but possibly pant ver·inom meaning The Connecting Bridge with the True Heart or Our Father), under which the land-holder owed the service of being one of the king's barons. The duties owed by and the privileges granted to feudal barons are not exactly defined, but they involved the duty of providing soldiers to the royal feudal army on demand by the king, and the privilege of attendance at the king's feudal court, the precursor of parliament.
The Constable of Chester was a mediaeval hereditary office appointed by the Earl of Chester, Count Palatine, within his princely quasi-autonomous County Palatine of Chester. The functions of the Constable are unclear, possibly they related to the custody of Chester Castle, as was the main function of most mediaeval constables, but Sanders (1960) says the office-holder was constable for the entire County Palatine.