If Mr., Ms. or Mrs. title no longer seems fashionable, why not try Lord?
Highland Titles Charitable Trust for Scotland, a registered charity that focuses on the conservation of Scottish wilderness, raises money for its efforts by selling souvenir plots of land that effectively bestow the Scottish title of lady or lord for as little as $45.
“The company was started by a father and daughter (Dr. Peter and Laura Bevis) back in 2007,” head of Highland Titles sales and marketing Stephen Rossiter said. “It was mainly a way of conserving their own land that they had in Scotland; they wanted to raise some money to plant some new trees and the daughter came up with the idea. She’d seen a couple of other companies doing it … selling these souvenir plots. They raised a bit of money; it creates a wonderful gift. They love Scotland, so they bought a 250 acre plot of land near Glencoe with a view to creating a nature reserve.”
Rossiter said Scotland doesn’t allow the registration of land that measures in at under a half acre. This makes it possible for landowners like the Bevis’ to sell rights to souvenir plots without losing ownership — the buyer receives a title that gives them a personal right to the land (from one square foot in Glencoe, Scotland to 1,000 square feet in nearby Lochaber). Highland Titles remains the registered owner and manages the land on behalf of the customers. For the charity, it allows them to create self-sustaining nature reserves. For the rights holder, it allows them to legally use the title Lady or Lord of Glencoe.
The term “landlord” is a linguistic remnant of that time period, and the title lord still survives as a marker of nobility or, in the case of Highland Titles, an indicator of land ownership.
Another great indicator of land ownership? A bumper sticker. Along with documents necessary to legally add the lordly moniker to any name, a base Highland Titles packet comes with a personalized membership card printed with the purchased plot’s coordinates, Scottish Landowner’s Handbook, informational packets that explain the organization’s conservation efforts, a Highland Titles sticker and a bumper sticker featuring the title of choice. Packets for larger plots can include incentives like a virtual tour DVD, lifetime camping access or a lambswool scarf.
More than 100,000 people have obtained estates at Glencoe Wood (also called Keil Hill or Highland Titles Nature Reserve) or Lochaber (also called Mountainview or Bumblebee Haven) through the charity. Highland Titles uses the money raised to build bird and bat boxes, remove non-native plant life and replace it with native trees and make the land a welcoming place for visitors. Rossiter said approximately 7,000 lords and ladies travel to Scotland from as far as New Zeland to visit plots every year, specifically in May.
“It brings so many different things to the party. It brings good tourism, it brings people together through a sense of land conservation,” Rossiter said. “Every year in May we have a gathering; between 60 and 100 people will meet up at the Isles of Glencoe Hotel and we put on a two-day event with a dinner, a trip to the land … and other lords and ladies can meet each other and share experiences.”
Once documents from Highland Titles are obtained, the Mr., Ms. or Mrs. before a name can legally be changed to Lady or Lord, but what can be done with such a title? Fifty five-year-old Duryea resident John Zaino’s inclinations are paternal.
“I’d definitely make all my kids call me Lord Dad,” Zaino said.
Diamond Holmes, 23, had a similar plan.
“I’d probably tell all my friends to call me Lady Diamond,” Holmes said. “It’d make me feel powerful.”
Reach Lord Eugene Edwin Axton Jr. at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts