You may have seen the ads on Facebook or Instagram about becoming a land owner with a title in Scotland. But, does buying land in Scotland make you a Lord?
It has been a common occurrence that tourists visiting Scotland have been able to purchase small plots of land in the Highlands from various companies who then offer them the title of Lord or Lady in return for their purchase. Plots of land as little as one square foot are sold off for various sums of money, and the purchaser then gets an “official” document announcing their new title with their full name, for example, Lord Jonathan Smith. This tourist gimmick was typically reserved for visitors to the region with full understanding that the title is tongue in cheek. However, since this trend has exploded online, people have become confused about what the title actually means.
To be clear, according to the Court of Lord Lyon, anyone looking to claim their title in the courts through ownership of souvenir plots of land will not be approved for official titles and all the rights and reservations bestowed with them. So, the answer is no.
Most people know that buying small plots of land in Scotland does not give you an official title that gives you official standing in British Royal society, and if you are in Scotland, they typically tell you this when you make the purchase. Instead, the companies selling the plots inform you that the only right that comes with the title is the right to change your name in your home country so that you can have Lord or Lady written before your name on your credit cards, or driver’s license, or other documents. However, that has not stopped thousands of people from applying for their title at the heraldry office for Scotland. So, how did this misconception become so widespread?
Let us take a look at how the idea of receiving a title came with land ownership in Scotland, what companies are profiting from selling these tiny plots of land for profit, and how the internet further exacerbated the problem for the Lyon clerk and keeper of records at the heraldry office in the Court of Lord Lyon.
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How does one truly become a Lord or Lady in Scotland?
The idea of bequeathing the title of Lord, Lady, or Laird of Scotland is credited to William the Conqueror in 1066 when he started to give the titles to his most loyal subjects. With the title, William the Conqueror also granted a land gift to the individual being bestowed. This was when landowners in Scotland started to be referred to as Lord, Lady, or Laird. So, what is the difference between these three different titles?
Laird is simply Lord but with a Scottish twist. The title Laird means land owner. However, a Laird is not technically a Lord. The title of Lord must be given to you by the Royal Family, Prime Minister, through marriage, inheritance, or purchased for large sums of money. Much larger sums of money than the amounts used to buy those souvenir plots of land giving away the titles of Lord and Lady. We are talking about 100s of thousands of British Pounds.
However, if you somehow decide to become a land owner in Scotland and purchase a sizeable estate rather than a simple one square foot plot of land, then you may be able to apply for the title of Laird or Lady through the Court of Lord Lyon. Additionally, if you own land in Scotland, the term of Laird is given simply because you are a landowning member of the community.
What companies sell souvenir plots of land?
As mentioned before, there are a number of companies out there that sell plots of land in Scotland and give out honorary titles to the purchasers. Some of these companies are actually located there in the Scottish Highlands, and if you happen to visit, they will be there to sell you your souvenir land plot and title. However, some companies only operate online. Some do both. So, which companies are the largest sellers and promoters of this phenomenon?
By far the largest company that is pushing this concept of purchasing souvenir plots of land in exchange for a title is Highland Titles. For as little as $45.00, the website states that you can obtain the title of Lady, Lord, or Laird through the purchase of land.
Highland Titles is essentially a large nature reserve located at Duror, Scotland, plus four other nature reserves. These are particular areas of conservation that sell plots of land in an effort to raise money to preserve and maintain the land. With a purchase, the purchaser receives a plot of land, the title of either Laird, Lord, or Lady, and they are allowed to come and visit the plot of land anytime they would like. Also, the purchaser would like to, they can change their name legally in their home country to reflect their title.
Scottish Lands sells plots of land starting at $75 for a one-square foot plot. The Highland Titles Nature Reserve is located near Glenco, where the titles given are Laird, Lord, or Lady. There are also large 10 or 100-square-foot plots of land available for sale at Kilnaish for those who would like a larger stake. Any purchase at Kilnaish comes with a free one-square -oot plot at the Highland Titles Nature Reserve so that their title will reflect that they are a Laird, Lord, or Lady of Glencoe rather than Kilnaish.
How did these companies become so popular?
As mentioned previously, typically these plots of land were reserved to be purchased for those who visited the nature reserves in the Scottish Highlands in person. It started as a tourist gimmick and still is, however, it was not as far-reaching as before. Imagine you have Scottish heritage and you take a wonderful two-week vacation in the Highlands with your family and you visit these series of Nature Reserves, part of the conservation effort of these reserves was to raise money by selling these souvenir plots of land. Many people did and they did so knowing that the title only allowed them to change their name and that they were not an official Lord or Lady.
However, once these companies went online and started selling to foreigners overseas, everyone then had access to purchasing these plots and receiving their honorary titles. It was digital marketing and advertising that took these companies and their websites to a whole new level and it is estimated that well over 300,000 people have purchased their own plots and have received their titles. One of the biggest pushes that has dramatically increased the sales of these plots of land include purchases as gifts for Father’s Day, Birth Days, and Christmas gifts for family members with Scottish heritage.
Of those 300,000 people, most still understand that the entire operation is a touristy gimmick, however, through misinformation and simple misunderstanding, it has not stopped thousands of people from actually filling out their official applications with the Court of Lord Lyon. All applications sent in that are as a result of purchasing one of these souvenir plots of land are screened, denied, and tossed out.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down because of COVID-19. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling