The Forbes "Viscountcy"
Still another example sanctioned by long usage is to be found in connection with the Earldom of Granard. Lord Granard is also Viscount and Baron Granard, styles which could not be used for the heir without causing confusion. But although he has the Barony of Clanehugh, the heir to the titles is always known by the imaginary style of Viscount Forbes (the family name), notwithstanding that there is a Lord Forbes who is a peer - premier Baron of Scotland and head of the House of Forbes.
I asked the late Lord Granard if he knew of any reason for this and he admitted quite frankly that he did not.
"I have looked up the family history", he told me, "and find that this courtesy title has been used ever since the then Viscount Granard was created Earl of Granard in 1684."
And he added sturdily: "Though I cam give you no reason why the Barony of Clanehugh is not used as the style of the eldest son, the use of the title Viscount Forbes has become a custom which will never be departed from as long as titles and this family exist."
As that custom has now obtained without challenge for more than 260 years I doubt if it will ever be called in question now.
Lord Granard, whose family seat is Castle Forbes, Newton Forbes, co. Longford, told me: "There has been some confusion of late owing to the fact that the place where Lord Forbes lives in Scotland is also called Castle Forbes, and several letters meant for my son went there. This has not happened much in the past, as my son is the first of the courtesy title to come of age in that title since my grandfather came of age in 1806. My father succeeded to the title at the age of four and I at fourteen." An unusual record, I imagine.
I have mentioned that the Scottish Lord Forbes is the head of the family. It is 500 years since the branch represented by Lord Granard was established by Patrick, third son of the second Lord Forbes, but, said Lord Granard, "we have kept up relations with the head of the family" - again a remarkable record.
The head of the House of Forbes may live in, and be premier Baron of, Scotland, but it is Ireland which is the home of the race. Lord Granard told me the tradition is that the Forbes are descended from Connor Dough, or O'Chonacre, whose son went from Ireland in the twelfth century with a body of men to enter the service of the King of Scotland. As reward for these services the King gave him the lands of Logie, on the River Don in Aberdeenshire. It appears from a charter bearing the date 1272 that Alexander III, King of Scotland, gave to Fergus, son of John Forbes, "terras et tenementa de Forbes".
It was Sir Arthur Forbes, first baronet, grandfather of the first Lord Granard, who resettled this branch of the family in Ireland in 1620.