Construction Worker Not Interested In Taking Title
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ An American man who has inherited the title of Britain’s Earl of Wharncliffe says he prefers the title of construction foreman in Cumberland, Maine.
″I like it here in Maine,″ says Richard Wortley, 34. ″I enjoy my job and I’m not sure I would want to give it all up to move.″
A reporter in Yorkshire, in northern England, informed Wortley by telephone Monday that he had inherited the title after the death last week of the fourth earl, Alan Wortley MacKenzie, 52, who had no sons.
Wortley’s late father was the earl’s cousin, and Wortley is the closest living male relative of the late earl.
″I’m happy to be the earl,″ but as for moving, ″I had other plans for the summer,″ Wortley said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
There has been no official notification, but Wortley said he has been aware since his childhood in New Haven, Conn., that he was in line to inherit the title. His parents had discussed it with him.
″Family history has always been a source of interest″ because of the family’s blue blood, he said. But becoming the earl was not someting he anxiously awaited.
When the telephone call came from England, ″I had my stock answer that I had prepared when I was 12 years old: ‘I’m an American and I’m going to stay that way.’ But now I’ve gotten all these phone calls, and it’s more interesting.″
″Maybe it’s worth a trip,″ he said. ″It certainly would be a nice way to visit, as something special, rather than as a regular tourist.″
The earldom dates from 1826, and the family seat at Wortley near Sheffield, in Yorkshire in northern England, includes an estate of 4,800 acres that is run by a trust, from which the late earl received an annual allowance.
Wortley said he was not sure whether a recent change in Britain’s inheritance laws would affect what he would receive as part of the title.
His parents visited the family seat and he had seen photos of it, but he has been to England only twice, and neither time did he get a chance to visit Wortley. He said he would contact the countess of Wharncliffe to learn more about the title.
Charles Kidd, editor of the authoritative book on Britain’s peerage, ″Debrett’s Peerage,″ said Wortley didn’t have a choice on accepting the title.
″He is already the earl, whether he likes it or not. If he wants to disclaim it he must do so in writing to the Lord Chancellor within a year of succeeding to the title,″ Kidd said. The Lord Chancellor is Britain’s highest legal officer.
Wortley has a younger brother in Rochester, N.H., but the older man is heir to the title. Wortley has two boys, ages 3 and 7, and the next in line is the 7-year-old, who becomes the Viscount Carlton.