I just wanted to send a note out amongst us on the use of titles. I know that a number of people in the shire are either new or new to the Middle Kingdom, and there are a lot of things that get done commonly that are incorrect. My purpose is to give you information that you need to use them appropriately.
First, no titles may be used that are not earned. If you don't have an award that grants the use of arms, you don't have a title.
Second, despite what you will hear in use, there are a very limited number of titles used in the SCA. They are:
The use of titles not on this list is considered presumptuous and in bad taste within the SCA. Note that Sergeant, Forester, Sheriff, and Constable are _not_ on the list. That's because they are not titles in SCA use. They are stylings. Stylings are used _after_ the person's name. Thus, the appropriate use, if you want to show that someone is a member of a particular order is,
Lord Uthyr, Sergeant
Lord Byrd, Sergeant
Lady Merouda, Companion of the Willow, Companion of the Silver Oak
All Middle Kingdom ORDERS allow you to style yourself "Companion of the (xxxxx)" The Red Company allows those who are not members of the Chivalry to use the alternate styling "Sergeant of the Red Company" and the Greenwood Company allows any member of the order to use either "Companion" OR "Forester of the Greenwood Company." I am totally puzzled why all the Middle Kingdom seems to understand that "Companion" isn't a title but just can't grasp that "Sergeant" and "Forester" are not titles, either. Maybe it's willful ignorance; of course, if that's so, it doesn't say much for those people who participate in the practice. I'd like to believe it's just confusion.
That's why I'm writing this, of course, so you won't be confused. :-)
Sometimes you will find someone using "Herr Johan" or, as in our own shire, "Pani Ewa." These are _alternative titles_, which is, in these instances, "Lord" in German or "Lady" in Polish. There is a whole list of alternative titles online, although I don't have the URL to hand. You can follow the links from the sca.org under the heraldry section to find it.
The awards that grant permanent titles are:
The titles for the reigning Royals are transitory and pretty self-explanatory, so we won't talk about them here. Note that _any_ award that comes with an AoA grants _only_ the title "Lord/Lady." The only exception to this rule is Court Baron.
Those of you who have been in the SCA for a while are probably noting that the GOA level "title" is absent. That's because it isn't written into SCA law. Technically, the GoA doesn't grant you anything in terms of titles. This is one of those areas where custom has created a usage that works--it may not be in the law, but it doesn't really break any rules, either, rather like the color-coded belts for dependants. The custom, when one has a GoA, is to append the word "Honorable" to your title if you don't have a title higher than Lord or Lady. Thus, "The Honorable Lady."
Well, that's a quick run down on SCA titles. I thought about adding forms of address, common mistakes, the difference between orders and awards, et cetera, but that's for another day. I'm a protocol geek, though, so if you have any questions, just ask. I'm happy to help.
Ever your servant, Merouda