Consensus on Dunbar 1100s, Succession Box

+4 votes
I am asking for confirmation about eliminating succession boxes on multiple descendats of Gospatric Dunbar-27. I have been involved as a trusted member of this profile Gospatric II Dunbar-157 for more than 3 years, and contributed several times for bio work and re-editing. Back in Feb 2017 I posted comments about the Title and Succession Box being inappropriate. A recent contributor asked for some more cleanup which I started and I would now like to have best input from the Projects (Scotish Clans, Euroaristo, pre-1500).

I Want to see the Earl of Dunbar Succession Box removed and only start with the Great Grandson [Dunbar-193|Patrick Dunbar]] , who called himself 4th Earl of Dunbar. Here are my comments from prior note: "Earl numbering is laughable if you read Cawley, straightforward analysis. Patrick Dunbar who is GGson of Dunbar-157 was the first to style himself as "4th Earl of Dunbar". specifically he says there is no record of Dunbar-157 being written as Earl of Dunbar, during his lifetime. So there are 4 high ranking ancestors of [Dunbar-193|Patrick Dunbar]] the 4th Earl, but predecessors were not using that title.. Take the numbers off of all of predecessors, leave the number 4 Earl to Patrick. Gospatric 2 & 3, and Waltheof can just be unnumbered. keep the succession. Check Cawley for info on Dunbar-157 "

Comments. Agreement?  Thanks in advance, Marty O
WikiTree profile: Gospatric of Dunbar
in The Tree House by Marty Ormond G2G6 Mach 5 (53.9k points)

3 Answers

+3 votes

The Complete Peerage, 2nd edition vol. 4, does number the earlier ancestors as Earls of Dunbar and Patrick as the 4th Earl.  It isn't clear that they were necessarily named as of Dunbar, but they were referred to as Comes which equates to being similar to Earl. 

Although The Complete Peerage can also have mistakes, I think overall it is the better source to follow than Cawley in this instance.  However I haven't checked the Vol 14 which has some corrections.

by John Atkinson G2G6 Pilot (379k points)
+3 votes
I would be cautious about this whole approach.

I do not think you should normally use Cawley as a source for this type of conclusion, especially if other better sources disagree. Indeed, the type of conclusion you are proposing is a very strong one which implies that all sources possible have been checked by Cawley before making his statements, which is certainly not how he works. He likes to propose new things as he works slowly through various sources, but he often has to change them later, and this often leads to misunderstandings here on Wikitree.

Furthermore, it is inevitable that to some extent the records for things like titles are incomplete, and so (1) to some extent we are forced to use conventional numbering to some extent, based on some authority, which might sometimes be questionable (2) in this particular case, the fact that a descendant said or implied that his ancestors used a title is a kind of source, in a "beggars can't be choosers" kind of way.
by Andrew Lancaster G2G6 Mach 8 (85.3k points)
+3 votes
Trouble is, the peerage as we know it wasn't consciously designed and instituted, it evolved over a long period.  The rules were still being made up in the 19th century.  Then the lawyers and genealogists had to figure out how to apply the rules retrospectively to earlier times and reconcile them with recorded events.

All very artificial.  But the point was not to know who was really an earl in the 12th century, whatever that meant, but to set out how living peers were "entitled" to their seats, and more importantly, to work out who might be able to claim a dormant title.  They needed to know who was "really" an earl in the universe of the legal-fiction peerage.

So to say somebody was 4th Earl of Dunbar is really to say this is the conclusion they arrived at by applying the rules and precedents as consistently as possible.  It doesn't have to be something you'd get from the records of the day.
by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (511k points)

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