HEAR ye, hear ye. The opportunity to become a baron is nigh, but it

will cost the layman more than a few pieces of silver. It could be the

passport to a seat in any future Scottish parliament and an opportunity

for elevation to a Judge in one's own court.

The Scottish Barony of Ruchlaw, East Lothian, is to be sold at auction

in London on Monday and is expected to fetch more than #100,000 with

interest coming from as far afield as Australia and Hong Kong.

The barony with approximately half an acre of land (the caput of this

barony) is unique in the titles that have been offered. As far as can be

ascertained, it is the first auction of a Scottish barony.

All Scottish barons formerly sat in the Edinburgh Parliament until the

1590s when, in return for giving up their seats in the councils of the

northern realm, their baronies -- based on land -- were recognised as

noble fiefs.

The successful purchaser of Ruchlaw will have to apply to the Lord

Lyon in Edinburgh for a ''matriculation'' of baronial arms and Crown


According to the auctioneers, Manorial Property Ltd, there are

approximately 50 Scottish barons currently having grants of baronial

arms and Crown recognition from the Lyon Court in Edinburgh.

There are also more than 100 members of the Convention of the Baronage

of Scotland, including those with and without formal grants of baronial

arms. Many of these ancient titles have remained in the same family for

900 years.

Mr Robert Smith, chairman of the Manorial Society of Great Britain,

said yesterday: ''I would certainly expect the barony to go for well

over #100,000. It is only by the purchase of a Scottish feudal barony

that one can acquire a hereditary title of nobility in the United

Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland other than by inheritance

or by being so created by the Queen.

''The sale of the Barony of Ruchlaw is of profound importance and an

extremely rare event in the modern history of heraldry and nobility. The

purchaser of the barony will become a member of a hereditary and feudal

aristocracy that has a history of more than 1000 years and will possess

a title of named nobility.''

A previous owner of Ruchlaw, Ronald Macduff Urquhart of Ruchlaw, Baron

of Ruchlaw, matriculated Arms with the Chapeau of a Feudal Baron of

Scotland at the Lyon Court in Edinburgh on September 17, 1976.

Mr Smith said: ''In the modern United Kingdom Parliament, only the

Lords of Parliament take a seat in the House of Lords. However, Scottish

feudal barons were members of the Scottish Parliament and may once again

take their place in such a parliament if a future Government

re-establishes that body as a regional assembly.

''The title of baron normally descends to the eldest son, but lacking

sons to the eldest daughter. The feudal nature of the barony allows its

title to be sold to a new owner and a new set of heirs. A baroness in

her own right legally communicates her title to her husband. He acquires

the title of baron, by the 'Courtesy of Scotland,' while she remains a


The caput is the legal headquarters and the principal messuage of the

barony. It is the place where the baron holds his barony court.

The Scottish feudal baron has a legal jurisdiction under Scottish law

and is a Judge of his own Court of Public Justice within his barony.

Before 1747 this included the ''powers of pit and gallows''. That was

the right to impose sentences of imprisonment for up to life in his pit

(dungeon or prison) and the power to execute someone by hanging from the

baronial gallows.

Mr Smith said: ''After the passing of the Heritable Jurisdictions Act

of 1747, the baronial jurisdiction was limited to imposing fines in

criminal law for batteries, assaults, and other lesser crimes and to

judgment not exceeding 40 shillings for debt or damages under civil law.

''While this legal jurisdiction still remains, it is largely

considered an unused right in modern day Scotland.''