Baronetknighthood known as a baronetcy. The title was introduced by James I of England in 1611 to raise funds. It is an hereditary honour, but it does not amount to a peerage.
Baronets use the title "Sir" before their name, but whereas all other knighthoods apply to an individual only, a baronetcy is hereditary. The eldest son of a baronet who is born in wedlock is entitled to accede to the baronetcy upon the death of his father. With a few exceptions, baronetcies can only be inherited by, or inherited through, males.
Originally Baronets also had other rights, including the right to have their eldest son knighted on his 21st birthday. However, beginning in the reign of George IV these rights have been gradually revoked, on the grounds that sovereigns should not be bound by acts made by their predecessors.
It is now rare for new baronetcies (like all hereditary titles) to be created, but one notable recent example is that of the late Sir Denis Thatcher, the husband of former Prime Minister (and now baroness) Margaret Thatcher. Upon his death in 2003, their eldest son became the 2nd Baronet, Sir Mark Thatcher.
Baronet is not a peerage title and does not disqualify the holder from standing for election to the British House of Commons. However since 1999 neither do hereditary peerages, so the distinction has become historical. A full list of British Baronets can be found in Burke's Peerage and Baronetage.
Some notable baronets:
- Sir George Cayley (Aviation pioneer)
- Sir Humphry Davy (Chemist)
- Sir John Parnell (Politician)
- Sir Robert Peel (Politician)
- Sir Edward Elgar (Composer)
- Sir Oswald Mosley (Fascist)