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1. (in the British Isles) a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscount
2. (in Anglo-Saxon England) a royal governor of any of the large divisions of the kingdom, such as Wessex



in early medieval England, a member of the hereditary nobility, as distinguished from an ordinary freeman, or ceorl. The average size of an earl’s holding was 40 hides. As Anglo-Saxon society became feudalized, the earls, in the late seventh century, became part of the general landed aristocracy required to render state service, the thanes. Since the 11th century the term “earl” has designated a noble rank corresponding to that of count.

References in periodicals archive ?
Ironically, the Earldom of Harewood, which Dow claimed as his eventual inheritance, was also a product of reinvention.
He had to react quickly to avoid injury when Earldom battled to escape from the stalls before being withdrawn from the maiden, but came back a race later to partner Izzet Muzzy to a wide-margin win in the six-furlong handicap.
Camden noted that Montgomery was granted more lands than any of the others and built castles at Montgomery, Ludlow, and Shrewsbury, [11] and that Hugh Lupus was given the county palatine and earldom of Chester to rule as freely by his sword as the Conqueror by his crown (Hh 4v).
While the greeting to Harold is readily explained by the annexation of Herefordshire to his earldom of Wessex after 1057, the identity of bishop 'Begard' is a puzzle.
Wriothesley succeeded to his father's earldom in 1581.
In The American Claimant, one of his less satisfying novels, Twain showed Sellers aspiring to an English earldom.
Both her children do not hold royal titles because they are descendants of the female line and because Mark Phillips declined the offer of an earldom when he married Princess Anne.
Bingham has described his court bid as "closure" and said he wanted to be able to pass the earldom to a future son.
When he received the earldom which was then the customary reward for former PMs he took the title Earl of Stockton.
In a ceremony with many historic echoes, which was directed largely by the Constable of the Castle, Lord Snowdon, the Queen invested her son with the Insignia of his Principality and Earldom of Chester: a sword, coronet, mantle, gold ring and gold rod.
The prince has a veto over Bills affecting the Duchy of Cornwall, Earldom of Chester and Principality of Wales under ancient royal and parliamentary rules.