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How did a person become a Duke Earl Count or a Baron?

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If the title is hereditary and you are the heir then you inherit it upon the death of the previous holder. Otherwise you are "created" a lord, of whatever rank, by the sovereign in return for some great service to the nation. Michael Montagne
Supposedly by doing a great service to the nation, but more likely, doing a favour for whoever is in charge. Most nominees for peerage are nominated by themselves.  
In the past, you bought them, inherited them or were granted them by virtue of being a crony.
Nowadays a few hereditary ones remain, the rest you buy or are granted by the Prime Minister to retired MP's but are not hereditary.  
The order in which you described the titles is from highest (most privileged) down. A Duke is usually a close relative of the King/Queen, Earls are less close friends/family, etc.
The first 3 (Duke, Earl or its feminine term: Countess. A Count is a European term for nobility) are hereditary--that is, when the holder dies, the title is passed to his oldest son/heir. All holders of such titles had seats in the House of Lords (in Parliament) but were mostly kicked out in 1999. Life Peers (those with the title for life, not heredity) are Barons or just Lords (for men) and Baronesses (for women).
Wives of men with titles are "Ladies"- they are *not* female peers!  
A person can become a Duke, Earl, or Baron by Royal decree. These awards are bsetowed upon a person my the monarch and are either for the duration of that persons life, or can be passed on to offspring.
Margaret Thatcher is a Baroness because she helped to create her husband, Dennis, a Baron. This title will pass to her son, Mark.

Women can become nobles in their own right upon a relative dying if there are no male heirs. Although normally the title passes to the eldest male hier if possible in "Heriditary peerage". Margaret thatcher was made a "Life pier" with the title of Baroness after retiring as prime Minister. As a Life pier the title is bestowed upon her and only her. After the Life Perrages act in England all Hereditary Nobles had no immediate right to hold a seat in the house of Lords which was histrically the case. Life Peerages cannot be passed down to anyone. However her children are allowed to be known as "The Honorable x Thatcher". Wives of Male Earls/Counts are known as countess, Dukes wives Duchess, Barons are Baroness and Lords are Lady. One can only receive a noble title from the current monarchy and usually for service to the country and Queen/King.




Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminenece than members of most other classes in a socity, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary (e.g. precedence), and vary from country to country and era to era. Traditionally membership in the nobility has been regulated or acknowledged by the government. There is often a variety of ranks within the noble class. Legal recognition of nobility is more common in monarchies, but nobility also existed in such republics as the Dutch Provinces, Genoa and Venice, and remains part of the legal social structure of some non-hereditary regimes, e.g. San Marino and Vatican City in Europe. Hereditary titles often distinguish nobles from non-nobles, although in many nations most of the nobility have been un-titled, and a hereditary title need not indicate nobility.

HOW DO YOU BECOME A MEMBER OF NOBILITY ?
Well to day the easiest way is to join a Chivalric Order - The Knight Templar's (for example) There are an Supporter Organisation where you can join for free "The Friends and members" You find them here:
http://knightstemplars.ning.com
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