The reason for my asking is that Lady Anne Churchill, second daughter of the original Duke of Marlborough, married Charles Spencer, the 3rd Earl of Sunderland. Since succession to dukedoms is in the male line only, and her father had no surviving son, Parliament had to pass a special act enabling her older sister (Lady Henrietta) to inherit their father's peerage in her own right; she counts as the second duchess of Marlborough. Thereafter, succession was to revert to the male line; and indeed, Henrietta's nephew Charles (Anne's second son) succeeded her as the 3rd duke, the reason being that Robert (the eldest, who had succeeded his father as the fourth earl of Sunderland) predeceased her, unmarried and without issue.
Does this mean that Charles also succeeded as the 4th earl of Sunderland? In the annals, there seems no mention of the earldom: only the duke of Marlborough. Did the earldom of Sunderland somehow become defunct? And BTW: had Anne survived her older sister, would she have first succeeded as a duchess of Marlborough in her own right (i.e. the third duchess)? Were the daughters of John Churchill equal agnates, as Grand Duke Guillaume IV of Luxembourg made his own six daughters later on, thereby abrogating or nullifying the Nassau Family Pact?
Fast forward to the late 19th century, and one has that Alexander Duff, the first duke of Fife, also had no surviving son by his wife, Louise, the Princess Royal (eldest daughter of King Edward VII). As such, parliamentary action was once again required to allow the inheritance to pass to and through females.
As it was, Maud predeceased her older sister, who in 1912 had become a duchess of Fife in her own right. Alexandra, who counts as the second duchess, was predeceased by her only child, Alastair, who got killed in action during World War II (1943) unmarried and without issue. Had Maud survived Alexandra, would she have become the third duchess of Fife?
As it was, Maud's only child, a son named James, succeeded his aunt Alexandra in 1959 as the third duke of Fife. But his father (Charles Carnegie, the 11th Earl of Southesk) was still very much alive and kicking at the time. He died in 1992, whereupon James would have been in a position to hold two peerages. Is this allowed under British law?
I'm confused, because it almost seems that he got bypassed in the succession to the earldom, with his son (David) inheriting Southesk. It seems that that this how he was styled from the death in 1992 of his grandfather to the death of his father in 2015, when he inherited the dukedom of Fife.
Or perhaps one is talking here of courtesy titles? If I understand correctly, the Earl of Macduff is the secondary title of the Duke of Fife; I don't know if there is a tertiary title.
The Earl of Southesk, however, does not appear to have a secondary title that his eldest son and heir might use as a courtesy title. If I understand correctly, Maud's husband was styled simply as the Honourable Charles Carnegie (as a son of an earl), until inheriting Southeask in 1941.
Has the courtesy title Earl of Macduff been used at all, in the course of this dual inheritance? It gets confusing, since Maud married the heir to a peerage, in addition to herself having a place in the succession to another one. I've been wondering how exactly her descendants have been styled, through all this ...
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