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How do I Become a Laird?

Margo Upson
Updated May 23, 2024
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A laird is a person, male or female, who is the owner of an estate, usually with a significant amount of land, in Scotland. A lairdship was usually passed down through the generations, from the father to the oldest son. While it was possible for women to become lairds in their own right, it was not common.

The title of "laird" implies that the person was a member of the gentry, or upper class. They were not necessarily nobility, however. Dukes, counts, and similar titles were handed out by the king of a country. The status of "laird" was based on the amount of land a family owned. Lairds would then rent that land to tenants to use for farming and setting up small businesses. They would also provide protection for their people if it became necessary. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the title of "laird" was usually used for the chief of a highland clan.

In historic times, there were very few ways to become a laird. Most lairdships were inherited. Unlike dukeships, they could only be transferred with the land. If the land was overrun, the new owner would become the laird of the estate. If the laird died with no heirs, the land, and title, could be handed to another member of gentry in the estate, or to a neighboring laird.

In modern times, it is much easier to claim the title of laird, albeit unofficially. As part of a land conservation movement, some organizations sell small plots of land from old estates. These plots of land, usually about one square foot in size, come with lairdship titles. This movement is helping to preserve historic areas in Scotland from modernization; however, it's important to note that the lairdships offered are not official, and have been deemed meaningless by the law court that oversees heraldry in Scotland.

Although this titled lairdship is not the same as what it meant several hundred years ago, it is a unique idea for gifts. The purchase of the plot of land and title is often accompanied by pictures of the plot of land, a map showing where the land is located, and a titled deed stating that the lot, and title of "laird," is yours.

In the past, it was incredibly unlikely that anyone outside of the titled family would become a laird. To become a laird back then, most people would have had to organize a large group of men, and take over the estate. Now, however, all it takes is the interest in helping to preserve old Scottish estates from modern development.

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Margo Upson
By Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education, Margo Upson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as a Historical Index writer. Her wide-ranging interests and skill at diving into new topics make her articles informative, engaging, and valuable to readers seeking to expand their knowledge.
Discussion Comments
By starrynight — On Dec 19, 2011

This reminds me of a book I really like, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The book is set in the 1800s and one of the main characters is a laird. In the book, being a laird comes with a lot of responsibilities and creates tons of problems for the main character.

This is quite the contrast from buying a one square foot plot of land and being a laird in title only!

By Azuza — On Dec 18, 2011

@ceilingcat - I don't see the harm in buying a plot of land and becoming a laird. After all, it does help preserve historic areas in Scotland. If someone wants to get something in exchange for making a donation, I don't see anything wrong with it.

Plus, I think it might be fun to become a laird or lady. Obviously you'd only be a laird in name, but so what?

By ceilingcat — On Dec 17, 2011

I think buying a one foot plot of land in order to become a laird is just pure vanity. I mean, what's the point? In the past, being a laird meant you had a large plot of land and some kind of authority. What's the point of becoming a laird if all you get is one foot of land and no authority?

I suppose a certain type of person might like to say they've become a lord, but I don't think I would like to be friends with such a person.

By LisaLou — On Dec 17, 2011

@golf07 - This is actually something I have looked into before, and it is quite affordable.

You would want to do your research and make sure you are working with a reputable company, but it is perfectly legal.

I saw some of the smallest plots, which were one square foot, selling for around $50 US dollars.

My understanding is once all the paperwork is completed and returned this is a legal title you can add to your name. This would be perfect for my son who would love to become a Scottish laird.

Another advantage to giving a gift like this is there are no land taxes on Scotland. There would be nothing they have to continue to pay in order to keep the title.

You can also buy bigger plots of land, up to 1000 square feet, depending on how much you want to spend.

By golf07 — On Dec 16, 2011

I have never heard of anything like this before and am quite fascinated about it.

I think something like this would make a unique gift for the right person. There are some friends and family on my list who are very hard to buy for, and this is a very clever idea.

If I could buy them a gift telling them they could become a laird or lady, that would just make their day. Maybe I could buy them plots all next to each other and they could have their own small piece of Scottish land.

Is something like this very affordable for the average person?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson
With a vast academic background that has ranged from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education,...
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