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Earl

An Earl is a member of the British peerage ranking below a Marquess and above a Viscount. The Earl is the British equivalent of the continental Count. The wife of an Earl is a Countess[?]. The eldest son of an Earl generally has the courtesy title of Viscount or Lord, younger sons are known as the Honourable [Firstname] [Lastname] and daughters are known as Lady [Firstname] [Lastname] (the most obvious example being Lady Diana Spencer).

The word derives from Middle English "erl" meaning warrior, nobleman, equivalent to the jarl in Old Norse. It's unclear whether there exists connection by ethymology to the Anglo-Saxon term "Ealdorman" which translates literally as "Elder", "Senior", and refers to a chief counselor of the realm. That term survives in modern English as "Alderman[?]", a councilman or representative in local government or a local church governing body.

An Earl presides over an Earldom.

See: Earls of Chesterfield, Earls of Cork, Earls of Derby, Earls of Norfolk, Earls of Pembroke, Earls of Shrewsbury[?], Earls of Warwick[?], Earl of Holland



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