The Barony was created by writ in 1264; no other English title predates it. The only older peerage titles in the British Isles are: Baron Kerry and Lixnaw (1181), Baron Offaly (1199) and Earl of Sutherland (1230). The first two are in the Peerage of Ireland, while the last is in the Peerage of Scotland.
The Barony may pass to heirs-general rather than just heirs-male, unlike most British titles. The barony may pass to daughters only if there are no sons. Under inheritance law, sisters have an equal right to inherit; there is no special inheritance right due for an eldest sister, as there is for an eldest son. Thus, it is possible that two or more sisters (and their heirs after their deaths) have an equally valid claim to the title; in such a case, the title goes into abeyance. The abeyance is ends either when there is only one remaining claimant due to deaths of the other claimants, or when the Sovereign "terminates" the abeyance in favour of one of the heirs.
Whenever a man holds the title, he is styled the Premier Baron of England. However, whenever a woman holds the title, the holder of the next-highest barony held by a man is known as the Premier Baron. For instance, when Georgiana Maxwell, the most recent female to hold the title, was Baroness, the Lord Mowbray, Segrave, and Stourton was considered the Premier Baron.
The title was originally held by the de Ros family until the death of the eleventh Baron in 1508, when it was inherited by his nephew, Sir George Manners. Manners' son, Thomas, inherited the barony and was later created Earl of Rutland. The barony and earldom remained united until the death of the third Earl, Edward Manners. The barony was then inherited by his only daughter, Elizabeth, while the earldom passed to a male heir. Upon the death of Elizabeth's only son, William Cecil, the title returned to the Manners family, being inherited by the sixth Earl of Rutland.
Again, upon the sixth Earl's death, the barony and earldom were separated, as the barony was inherited by the Earl's daughter Katherine, who would later marry George Villiers, 1st Duke of Gloucester. Katherine's son George inherited both the barony and the dukedom, but upon his death the dukedom became extinct and the barony went into abeyance.
The barony had been in abeyance for over a century when Charlotte Boyle, wife of Henry Fitzgerald, petitioned King George III to terminate the abeyance in her favour in 1790. The King referred the matter to the House of Lords, which recommended that the barony remain in abeyance. However, in 1806, George IV terminated the abeyance in her favour on the recommendation of his Prime Minister. Charlotte Fitzgerald and her heirs then took the additional surname of "de Ros" after "Fitzgerald".
The title eventually went into abeyance again upon the death of Mary Frances Dawson (née Fitzgerald-de-Ros), the twenty-fifth Baroness, in 1939. The abeyance was terminated in favour of her eldest daughter, Una Mary Ross (née Dawson) in 1943, and again went into abeyance upon her death in 1956. Two years later, the barony was called out of abeyance again for Una Mary Ross' granddaughter, Georgiana Angela Maxwell (née Ross). Upon Georgiana Maxwell's death, it was inherited by Peter Maxwell, the first man to hold the title in over three-quarters of a century.
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2 Barons de Ros and Earls of Rutland (1525)
3 Barons de Ros
4 Barons de Ros and Earls of Rutland
5 Barons de Ros
6 Barons de Ros and Dukes of Buckingham
7 Barons de Ros
Barons de Ros (1264)
Barons de Ros and Earls of Rutland (1525)
Barons de Ros
Barons de Ros and Earls of Rutland
Barons de Ros
Barons de Ros and Dukes of Buckingham
Barons de Ros