The MacGill Society USA

Chief of the Name

Sir Ian Arthur Alexander Makgill, Bt.

The 14th Viscount (of) Oxfuird, Lord Makgill of Cousland, Baronet of Nova Scotia and Chief of Makgill

Peerage Information

The Ranks of the Peerage and Baronetage [From Debretts on-line.]

The Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom:
Duke, Marquess, Earl, Viscount, Baron (including Life Baron)

Ranked below Peers are:
Baronet, Lord Spiritual, Knight, Esquire, Gentleman


Viscount's Coronet

Viscount's Coronet

"This title had its origin in the office of the deputy or the lieutenant (Vice-Comes) of a Count, which had become hereditary in the Empire by the beginning of the tenth century. It was also used for the Sheriff of a county.

In 1440, Henry VI created John Lord Beaumont, Viscount Beaumont in England and Viscount Beaumont in France in order to integrate the titles of the two countries. The peerage title received precedence above all Barons, but it did not become popular until the seventeenth century.

A Viscount's style is Right Honourable. He is addressed by the King or Queen as Our right trusty and well-beloved cousin (and Counsellor when of the Privy Council)."


The Baronets form the sixth division of Nobiles Majores, following the five degrees of the Peerage.

The term baronet was first applied to the nobility who lost the right of individual summons to Parliament, and was used in this sense in a statute of Richard II.

The revival of the Order can be dated to Sir Robert Cotton's discovery in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century of William de la Pole's patent (issued in the 13th year of Edward III's reign), conferring upon him the dignity of a Baronet in return for a sum of money.

Baronetcies subsequently fall under one of the following five creations:

The Official Roll of Baronets was first gazetted on 23 February 1914. The Roll is a list of every Baronetcy (excluding those that have become extinct), listed in chronological order of creation. Seniority within the Baronetage falls relative to the date of creation, i.e. Bacon of Redgrave (created Baronet of England in 1611) is senior to Thatcher of Scotney (created Baronet of the UK in 1992).

The Roll is kept at the Home Office by the Registrar of the Baronetage. Anyone who considers he is entitled to be enrolled therein (i.e. is entitled to succeed to a title) is at liberty to petition the Crown through the Home Secretary. Every person succeeding to a Baronetcy must exhibit his proofs of succession to the Secretary of State. Should the Secretary of State find any difficulty in advising the Crown as to any claim, he refers the matter to the Law Officers for their opinion, and further, may, on consideration of that opinion, direct that the matter be referred to the specially appointed Committee of the Privy Council for examination and advice to the Crown.

The line of succession to a baronetcy is defined at the title's creation. In most cases the heir is the eldest living son of the holder. In the absence of a son, a baronetcy can pass to another of the male line of the first baronet. There are a few exceptions (in Scotland) in which, in the absence of a male heir, the title can pass to or through the female line.

A baronet is entitled to the prefix 'Sir' and the letters 'Bt' or 'Bart' following his name. A baronet's wife is entitled to the prefix of either 'Dame' (followed by christian name) or 'Lady' (without christian name), but the former style is now only used in legal and formal documents.

Badge of Ulster

Badge of Ulster

Baronets were granted the Arms of Ulster as a canton or inescutcheon in armorial bearings, argent a sinister hand couped at the wrist and erect gules, known as the Badge of Ulster.

Definitions of heraldic terminology

Badge of Baronets of Nova Scotia

Baronets of Scotland or Nova Scotia were granted the Arms of Nova Scotia in their armorial bearings and the right to wear about the neck the badge of Nova Scotia, suspended by an orange-tawny ribbon.

This consists of an escutcheon argent with a saltire azure thereon, an inescutcheon of the arms of Scotland, with an Imperial Crown above the escutcheon, and encircled with the motto Fax mentis Honestae Gloria. This Badge may be shown suspended by the ribbon below the shield of arms.

Definitions of heraldic terminology

Badge of Baronets in the UK

Baronets of England and Ireland applied to Charles I for permission to wear a badge. Although a badge was worn in the 17th century, it was not until 1929 that King George V granted permission to all baronets other than those of Scotland to wear a Badge round their neck.

This was composed of the Arms of Ulster, on a silver field, a left hand gules, surmounted by an Imperial Crown, enamelled in proper colours, the whole enclosed by an oval border embossed with scroll work of (4) roses for baronets of England, (2) shamrocks for baronets of Ireland, (3) roses and thistles for baronets of Great Britain, and (4) roses, thistles and shamrocks combined for baronets of UK. The badge to be suspended from an orange riband with a narrow edge of dark blue on both sides, the total breadth to be 1 and three-quarter inches, and the breadth of each to be a quarter inch. The Badge may be shown suspended by its riband below the shield of arms.

Definitions of heraldic terminology

Definitions of heraldic terminology:

Argent silver
Azure blue
Canton small square or oblong on a shield, usually in the top left corner
Gules red
Inescutcheon shield-shaped in the middle of a shield
Saltire a diagonal cross on a shield
Sinister starting left to right from the point of view of the bearer, right to left from the spectator's point of view

The Viscount (of) Oxfuird, Lord Makgill of Cousland, Baronet of Nova Scotia

Baronet is a British hereditary rank below a Baron and above a Knight. Viscount is the hereditary rank below a Count or Earl and above a Baron. In Britain, a peer is a nobleman holding the rank of Marquis, Earl or Count, Viscount or Baron, and is a member of the House of Lords (prior to 1999, see "The House of Lords Act," below).

The Makgill family is an old one, with roots going back to the earliest days of Scots history. It was in the earlier part of the 16th century that a leaning towards the law saw Makgills as Provosts of Edinburgh.

The title Baronet of Nova Scotia was created in 1627. The family's involvement in the patterns of history saw Sir James Makgill of Cranston Makgill, a Lord of Session in Edinburgh, created the first Viscount of Oxfuird in 1651 by King Charles II.

In Scotland, the Lordship of Makgill of Cousland (19 April 1651) belongs to and is held by Viscount Oxfuird.

The Right Honourable Sir (John) Donald (Alexander Arthur) Makgill, 12th Viscount of Oxfuird (peerage of Scotland 1651), 12th Lord Macgill of Cousland (Scotland 1651) and 12th Baronet (of Scotland and Nova Scotia 1627), was born 1899, the eldest son of Sir George Makgill, Bt (de jure 11th Viscount). He was for some years a resident in New Zealand.

For over 230 years the title had remained dormant and it was not until 1977 that the Committee for Privileges confirmed the descendancy on the 12th Viscount. He died in 1986.

Confirmed by the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords in 1986, Lord Oxfuird was an active participant in the House of Lords until his death on 3 January 2003 He was a deputy speaker and deputy chair of committees in the upper house.

The House of Lords Act

For generations in the 700-year-old House of Lords, hereditary peers were simply replaced by their heirs. But that was before Prime Minister Tony Blair began a chaotic and unfinished process of reforming the tradition-bound upper chamber. In a concession to the opposition, the government agreed that if it had not moved on to the second stage of Lords reform a year after the subsequent general election, any of the remaining 92 who died would be replaced in a by-election.

Lord Oxfuird was one of 92 peers with inherited titles (hereditary peers) who were elected in 1999 to continue as members of the Lords, after the passing of the House of Lords Act, when most of the hereditary peers lost their seats. More than 600 dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons were thrown out in what was intended to be an interum step.

Previous deaths among the 92 were replaced by the candidate of the same party with the next highest number of votes in the 1999 election. However in this case, under the House of Lords Act there was an election from candidates who are currently non-parliamentary peers and who were voted on by all serving members of the Lords. (The electors are 423 of 700 Lords, most of them commoners. The "new" House of Lords is dominated by several hundered appointed members, known as Life Peers. Other members include senior appeal judges, known as Law Lords, and 26 Church of England bishops.) His seat was won by Viscount Ullswater.

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Revision: 1 March 2005