A principle of the French nobiliary system was that nobility could be forfeited if a family’s economic decline, or its occupation of certain types of jobs or activities was considered incompatible with nobiliary status. There are also many cases where families – often junior lines that lost their property – descended the social scale and ceased to live in what could be recognised by their contemporaries as a noble or gentle life style. One such, the branch of thevColley family that settled in the United States, in Maine, is one such. William Colley, whose brother Sir Henry Colley was the father of the first Lord Mornngton (direct ancestor of the Dukes of Wellington) was obviously a gentleman as the word was nderstood in the 17th century. His grandson was an employee of a shipyard and subsequent descendants stonemasons, carpenters and firemen at a time when their cousin was serving as a Field Marshal, created a British, Spanish and Portuguese Duke and a Netherlandish Prince and later Prime Minister of Great Britain.
Modern research resources have enabled some to discover long forgotten noble roots; should this enable the modern day descendant who has benefited from this research to enter the Order in Honour and Devotion? Should they be allowed Grace and Devotion as a concession? Or should any nobiliary rank be rejected altogether?