Mark Sharman in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald,
and quoted by Crikey, described Sydney as being named after “Lord
Thomas Townshend Sydney.” Now I realise schools no longer teach people
about the British aristocracy, but they had enough influence on our
history that we really should try to get the basics right, and this
one’s a real howler.

The man’s name was Thomas Townshend (read more about him here).
He was created Lord Sydney (first a baron, later a viscount). So
possible ways of referring to him are “Lord Sydney,” “Thomas, Lord
Sydney,” or “Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney.” But you can’t put anything
except “Sydney” after the “Lord”, because they’re not part of his title.

It’s
not really that difficult, but the mistake is common. The anniversary
of Trafalgar, for example, has been commemorated with frequent
references to “Lord Horatio Nelson” – which implies, quite wrongly,
that he wasn’t a peer at all but had a courtesy title as the younger
son of a duke.

Peter Fray

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