Posted by Laura W on March 13, 1998 at 17:33:38:
In response to Can someone please help me out?, written by Isabella Rose on March 13, 1998 at 00:28:16
] Colonel Fitzwilliam is the son of an Earl. His father is frequently called the Earl of Matlock. Is this a place? A town . . . somewhere? He is frequently called Lord _______ (Lord Wallingford, on a few occasions). Yet his name is Fitzwilliam. Somebody help me out here, I'm confused . . .
I searched the online e-texts here at Pemberley on Henry's JA info pages for Matlock and Wallingford. The latter was not there at all; but "Matlock" appears in P&P during Lizzy's visit with her aunt and uncle to Derbyshire, as the name of a place, listed with Chatsworth and Dovedale as places to visit. But nowhere does it say "Earl of Matlock." The only reference to any "earl" in P&P is in a conversation between Lizzy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, where she says that he is the younger son of an earl. When Colonel Fitzwilliam is first introduced, it is this way: "Mr. Darcy had brought with him a Colonel Fitzwilliam, the younger son of his uncle, Lord ----". (This is the only place in P&P where the "Lord ----" term is used.) If he had been the Earl of Matlock, Austen would have said "Lord Matlock" there. But she doesn't name his father's title.
As for the names, Fitzwilliam is the Colonel's family surname. It was the maiden name of Lady Catherine and of Lady Anne, Mr. Darcy's mother; Mr. Darcy's given name is Fitzwilliam, after his mother. It was/is common to name a son by the mother's maiden name.
Earls do not absolutely always take their titles from a placename, although it is usual. A famous contrary example is Earl Spencer, whose family name is Spencer and who takes his title from the family name rather than a place.
For more than anyone ever wanted to know about titles, including when peers take their titles from places, names, or whatnot, visit my agonizingly comprehensive Titles site at:
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