I've looked at the answers for the question "How did cadet branches start?", and based off the information in that forum, I would like to know what rank equivalent to peerage the cadet branch could hold. Could they be given the ranks, powers, and titles equivalent to that of a duke or earl, or did cadets have something separate?

  • Which country? It will vary by country. I believe in British peerage precedence depends on the title you hold, not whether you are a cadet branch. If the Duke of Foo has two sons and grants the first son the courtesy title Viscount of foo and the second son the title of "Baron of Bar", the first son has precedence because a Viscount outranks a Baron. But if for some reason he grants his third son the title "Marquis of Qaz" then the third son has precedence because Marquis outranks a Viscount. (NOTE: The Duke of Foo must have all these titles to grant them.)
    – MCW
    Mar 29, 2016 at 18:22
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    Thanks, Mister Wallace. That actually pretty much answers the question. It didn't really matter which country. I just wanted to know something about how the cadets fit into the system. And from what you've said, the 'cadet' labelling doesn't matter, at least not for Britain. Thanks again.
    – Elfstone12
    Mar 29, 2016 at 18:56
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    I just wanted to know something about how the cadets fit into the system Different countries had different systems. In the British system, a peerage belongs only to the peer themselves. Any other member of a peer's family, from a cadet branch or otherwise, holds no rank except by their own right.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 29, 2016 at 19:45
  • @MarkC.Wallace Are you sure that courtesy titles count towards precedence? Especially, against real titles? Mar 30, 2016 at 11:03
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    Courtesy titles, I believe, do not grant precedence; the wives (but not husbands) and children of peers gain positions on the order of precedence by virtue of their relationship to the peer. (When I said no ranks earlier, I meant no ranks in the peerage hierarchy). For example, the Duke of St Albans' eldest son is styled Earl of Burford. He is located below the real Marquesses in the order of precedence, but above the Marquess of Blandford (eldest son of the Duke of Marlborough). @MarkC.Wallace That seems rather daunting to write...! I think CGCampbell has a good answer for OP here.
    – Semaphore
    Mar 30, 2016 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


In England, as I understand it, a cadet branch of a house is simply descendants of sons after the first. They can be, and sometimes were, given peerages themselves. Let's take a look at one notable cadet branch.

If we start with Edward III Plantagenet, the King of England from 25th January 1327 until his death in 1377 there is a very good example of a Cadet Branch. Edward III had as a first born son, Edward, the Black Prince. He would have been King of England, had he not died a year before his father. Upon Edward III's death, his grandson, Richard II became King. Let's leave that line for now.

Edward III had lots of children. His third surviving son, John of Gaunt (so named because he was born in Ghent, Flanders, but that's another story) married Blanche of Lancaster, creating the (2nd) House of Lancaster (a Cadet Branch of the Plantagenet line). Their son Henry usurped the throne on one side of the War of the Roses. John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster ended up providing Henry IV, Henry V and Henry VI, Kings of England.

In answer of your question, Edward the III's third surviving son was John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, with the title, lands and moneys they had. That is just one example of a Cadet Branch.

Peerage was not a guaranteed right to those later sons, however, but something that had to be gained by marriage, or granted. John gained his peerage by marriage to the heiress of the House of Lancaster. Without the marriage, he was just John of Gaunt, a son of the King.

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    It's John of Gaunt I believe, according to History of the English Speaking Peoples. Mar 30, 2016 at 12:12
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    @PieterGeerkens yikes, I'm usually better at that, fixed.
    – CGCampbell
    Mar 30, 2016 at 17:37

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