… The Right To Wear About His Neck an Orange Tawney Ribbon

King James I of England
King James I of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest gifts in the history of the world was made by King James I of England in 1621.  He gave William Alexander territory now known as Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, and part of Quebec!

Alexander was tutor to King James’ son, Prince Henry, and had some reputation as a poet.  One of his works was Doomes-Day, eleven thousand lines which were very dull.  King James, who authorized the revision of the Bible used by most Protestant churches today, wanted to rewrite the Psalms himself, in metric form.  Alexander helped him, for the poetry tutor had an unusually good eye for business.  The continent of America already contained a New England, New France, and New Spain; so he persuaded King James to give him territory that could be developed as New Scotland, or Nova Scotia.

Alexander became “Sir William” and was authorized to offer grants of land 3 X 6 miles along the sea coasts “to all such principal knights and esquires as will be pleased to be undertakers of the said plantation and who will promise to set forth six men, artificers or labourers, sufficiently armed, apparelled and victualled for two years.  Alexander was to “erect cities, appoint fairs, hold courts, grant lands and coin money.”  (He certainly would “coin money” if he owned that territory today!)

The knights and esquires were slow to take up the grants of land, however, so King James provided an added incentive on October 18, 1624, by creating an order called “Knights Baronet of Nova Scotia.”  Any man could be a “Baronet of Nova Scotia” if he went to live on his grant of land, or paid a sum to £150.  He would have the right to wear about his neck “an orange tawney ribbon from which shall hang pendants in an escutcheon agent a saltire azure with the arms of Scotland.”

The scheme never developed to any great extent, but there are descendants of the Baronets of Nova Scotia still alive today.  Headquarters of the order is in the castle of Clackmannanshire in Scotland.

To read more about today’s post, I suggest visiting the Electric Scotland, and the Fortescue, and the Roots Web, and finally the History of Nova Scotia.


  1. My cats have names with Scottish ties, a nod to my largely Scottish heritage. So, Andy is named in honor of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland; Dougy is named after, erm, me…well, it is a great Scottish name, and I just couldn’t bring myself to name him something like Archibald!

    There is one thing they and a predecessor cat all have/had in common, though: They all have/had the middle name James, as in James VI of Scotland, AKA King James I of England. (But don’t tell my cats that. They are true to their Scottish heritage, so far as Persian cats can be! Ha!)


    • Rufus doesn’t know about his Persian identity — at least, I don’t think he does 🙂 I think that’s pretty interesting about your cats named in honour of your Scottish heritage! So, technically, I can call them James and James? LOL


  2. They wanted to rewrite the Psalms??? Everyone’s a critic!
    So if I wear an orange tawney ribbon (I’m trying to picture that) around my neck, I can call myself a baroness?


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