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On the nature of titles: a letter to His Grace, Colonel (ret.) Sir Edward Pearse, 1st Duke of Argylle, 12th Earl of Primbroke

On the nature of titles: a letter to His Grace, Colonel (ret.) Sir Edward Pearse, 1st Duke of Argylle, 12th Earl of Primbroke, KWL, OWR

Your Grace,

Please forgive this unsolicited missive. I am writing you with a most urgent question on the nature of titles and, more importantly, the documentation one might require to rightfully claim such a title. My reason for the enquiry is as follows: I have recently determined that I have received a knighthood. Having recieved such an honour, I believe I have a legal claim to the title ‘Sir’.

Now while it is true I have no evidence for having received this knighthood (nor do I recall ever being knighted) I believe I actually am a knight. Since beliefs cannot be disproved (so long as one accepts that belief as a matter of faith) then there is, in fact, no proof I am not a knight.

Yet, as one steeped in the art of science, I acknowledge that this argument may not stand in the face of objective scrutiny. Further, I recognize the need for any theory to be rigorously tested. Therefore I set before you a mathematical proof following the course laid out so elegantly by Euclid in that most esteemed little manual: Elements of Geometry.

First we begin with an axiom, the truth of which is indisputable in that I know it to be true:

* Axiom #1: I have no recollection of my life before New Babbage.

Accepting this axiom I next offer the following propositions:

* Proposition 1: As I have no memory of a life before New Babbage, I therefore have no memory of not being knighted.

* Proposition 2: As I have no memory of not being knighted, it is therefore possible I was knighted.

* Proposition 3: We may thusly conclude there is a potential for two contradictory truths:

A) I was a knight and B) I was not a knight.

Here, Your Grace, we arrive at the crux of my argument. As the evidence clearly shows, I was as equally likely to have been a knight, as I was to have not been a knight in a previous life. Further, there is no basis upon which one might suppose I was not a knight. And if one were not to suppose I was not a knight then clearly I would be free to suppose I was a knight.

As you can see through this demonstration of mathematics and logic, while it may ‘feel right’ emotionally to believe I am a knight, it is more than just a subjective reality. It most clearly and indisputably is scientifically mandated. Therefore I salute you as –

Sir Emerson Lighthouse, NBE

PS: Note that I am not indicating I plan to use the title, merely that I reserve the right to use the title should the fancy strike me, EL

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  1. Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin September 13, 2011

    Reminds me of the old saying, “Once a king, always a king, but once a knight is enough for anybody!”

    Tepic Harlequin, FOX

    errrrr….. people always laugh when i say that, but… ummm… could anyone explain what’s so funny please?

    • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse September 14, 2011

      Ask Miss Ceejay Tepic. I’m sure she’ll be able to explain it

    • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 14, 2011

      /Emerson Lighthouse, alone in his clock tower study, repeats the words: ‘Tepic Harlequin, FOX’ several times before breaking down into fits of giggles.

  2. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse September 14, 2011

    The idea of “Schrödinger’s Knight” is not one I’ve encountered before. :-)

    • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 14, 2011

      “Schrödinger’s Knight”… imagine the chessboard possibilities.

  3. Christine McAllister Pearse Christine McAllister Pearse September 14, 2011

    *looks over Edward’s shoulder as he is reading the letter in his study, develops a headache from trying to follow it and goes and lays down on the sofa with a cool cloth on her forehead*

    • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 14, 2011

      That’s quite alright Mrs. Pearse, I was lying on the sofa with a cool cloth on my forehead when I composed it.

  4. Lauren Hallenbook Lauren Hallenbook September 14, 2011

    My dearest husband,

    Could you not perhaps also be a Marquis?

    You do not ever recall not being a Marquis, do you? 

    Your loving wife,

    Lady Lauren Lighthouse, Marchioness of Enfield 

    • Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg September 14, 2011

      Good point, Mrs. Lighthouse.

      If that’s also the case, then I don’t see how this logic couldn’t lead us down a path toward Emperor Emerson Lighthouse.

      He’ll have to start drinking more if that’s the case.

      — Juniper Ginsburg, Commoner

      • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse September 15, 2011

        I can easily refute that logic Miss Ginsburg.

        Mr. Lighthouse is sober: ergo he could not be Emperor :-)

  5. Jimmy Branagh Jimmy Branagh September 14, 2011

    Oy ‘ad thoughts just loike thet meself th’ other dye, Mr. Emerson.

  6. Dr. Cyberusfaustus Dr. Cyberusfaustus September 15, 2011

    The more telling question is not whether you may or may not have been a knight, but rather a knight of what order.

    The title of Knighthood is first and foremost a recognition of a life of service. The nature or ‘charism’ of the service is what draws the attention and ultimately recognition from the head of the order.

    For instance, a Knight of  the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George would have received this honor for his diplomatic service to the British Empire. A Catholic of who had dedicated his life to giving aid to the sick and poor and defending the Faith, might be a member of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta. The former is for service to ones country, the latter is for service to all people as children of God. Also, depending on the individual, the latter may also be a religious vocation similar to a monk.

    Then there are Orders which are simply further recognitions of existing knights, such as the Order of the Garter which is group of knights who have shown special heightened service to the British Empire – you have to be a knight of some other order before you can even be considered.

    To say you do not recall and cannot prove you are a knight (by showing the documentation of the assignment of the honor) is, until someone from the Order recognizes you and says – “You were knighted back in 18–“, almost the same as not having been knighted in the first place. A title is worthless without the recognition of the Sovereign who can bestow it.

    At the same time, for a true knight, this would not pose a problem worth losing a moments sleep over since he could still render the services he would have received the title for with or without it.

    If you are particularly patriotic or supportive of the aristocracy, then continue to find ways to serve King, Queen and country. If you are more spiritually moved, serve your Creator by serving your fellow humans. At the least, if you were a knight of an Order for such service, you will more likely gain the attention of someone of that Order again by continuing the works – and then they would recognize you and bring you back into the fold.

    In other words if you want to be a knight, act knightly.

    On the other hand, every gentleman should behave at least courtly – id est with courtesy.



    • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 15, 2011

      Your response has given me much to contemplate sir, I thank you. Though my recollection is foggy at best, I want to say The Order of Ni… though clearly it remains only a partial memory. I will endeavour to determine what this might mean through logic and perseverance. Let me just conclude by saying it is always a pleasure to correspond with a fellow doctor, we should keep in touch.

      • Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg September 15, 2011

        *holds her ears and shouts “IT!”*

        • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 15, 2011

          If you say that word again I may have to come up to the Academy some night and dig up all of your shrubbery!

          • Junie Ginsburg Junie Ginsburg September 15, 2011

            Pffft.  Find your own shrubber, Sir Maybe Knight Who Perhaps ‘Til Recently Said…something.

            *counts on fingers*

            Now go away before I taunt you again!

  7. JohannVon Thesium JohannVon Thesium September 15, 2011

    (OOC: if he so wishes to acknowledge it)

    Perhaps I, Johann Von Thesium, Margrave of Thesium, and third son of HM the King of Normoor, hereby confirm the knighthood of Sir Emerson Lighthouse. He was knighted by my father on the 43rd year of his reign ( about 18xx :P ), and served under my elder brother Alexander Von Thesium.

    Hereby I present to thee thy full title. Sir Emerson Lighthouse, Kinght of the Normoorian Order of the Buzzard Excelsior (hence NBE)


    • Dr. Cyberusfaustus Dr. Cyberusfaustus September 16, 2011

      There you go Sir Lighthouse! It appears you ow allegiance and service to the Kingdom of Normoor! Should you wish to return to your sovereign’s land I would gladly accompany you to visit this interesting sounding place.

      • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse September 16, 2011

        Just a point of interest, the most common mistake in the use of titles is using the surname as a form of address. A knight (or a Baronet for that matter) may be referred or “addressed” as Sir [firstname] or Sir [firstname] [lastname]. Never as Sir [lastname].

        Yes I’m sure there are some people up the back rolling their eyes. Deal.

        • Dr. Cyberusfaustus Dr. Cyberusfaustus September 16, 2011

          Quite right… quite right… although some orders eschew using sir at all… opting more for the Order appropriate suffix.

          Now for extra credit, how do you incorporate academic titles into that alphabet soup.






          • Edward Pearse Edward Pearse September 16, 2011

            99% of the time you don’t.

            Most knighthoods are technically of a military nature and military and academic post nominals should not be mixed.

            Esquire is usually denoted as a courtesy title when the person is a landowner but doesn’t have any other title to go by. American lawyers have co-opted this now as signifier of a licence to practice law. No idea how they came to this though.

            • Tepic Harlequin Tepic Harlequin September 16, 2011

              if memory of reading the obituary columns is right, religious titles are used before others (God/s being considered a tad higher than kings?), so “The Right Reverend Sir …….” would be correct. Stuff you have earned through study works with religious titles too, but think “Sir” trumps them in some way…….. There are whole books on order of precedent and correct use of titles…. BIG books…!

    • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 16, 2011

      My Dear Lord Johann, how wonderful to hear from you after so long. As always your timing is impeccable. Please tell His Majesty, your dear father, that my donation to the royal coffers will be forthcoming.

      • JohannVon Thesium JohannVon Thesium September 16, 2011

        Thank you for your kind words, unfortunatelly I now must also be the carrier of unfortunate news. As I am aware your your memory loss, I fell it is my duty to inform you on the last events of the Normoorians, about two years ago, on the time my father abdicated on my elder brother, Ezequiel, behalf a coup was put into motion by the dreadfull Mr. Adoril Chorster. A civil war broke on the nation and my father sent my brothers and sisters to “safe houses”. You was put under the service of my brother Alexander on that very same day.

        Two years went by, and I had no news from home, but hoped everyday that my family was safe. But on the fourth month of this year I got three terrible news, as I left the Asrael ship of Mr. Tchailenov. The first was that my father had died during the civil war that devastated our homeland, the second was that my brother Alexander’s ship had been in battle and crashed. (Perhaps was then when you lost your memory?) the third was that my kin was missing and my realm lost under the hands of the unworth Usurper and his followers. ((OOC: Still need a name to him :P)) Struggle is still going on as the Resistance, loyal to the House of Thesium works and fight to undermine the Usurper power.

        Therefore I humbly asks, that your donation shall be sent to them.

        (( some background :P)

        • Emerson Lighthouse Emerson Lighthouse September 16, 2011

          I thank you for your fine edification on the history of the Normoorian kingdom. But, just between the two of us, I think there may be a case of mistaken identity here. However, since I clearly fit the description of the war hero you describe, I am happy to keep it our little secret and proudly carry the title… in the best interests of Normoor of course.

          • JohannVon Thesium JohannVon Thesium September 16, 2011

            of course… although I must say you are truly extremely similar to my brother’s Chief Scientist.

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