IN TUDOR ENGLAND
We in England divide our people commonly into four sorts, as gentlemen, citizens or burgesses, yeomen, and artificers or laborers. Of gentlemen the first and chief (next the King) be the prince, dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, and barons, and these are called gentlemen of the greater sort, or (as our common usage of speech is) lords and noblemen; and next unto them be knights, esquires, and, last of all, they that are simply called gentlemen...
Prince from L. princeps, principal next to the king.
Duke from L. dux, leader.
Marquis from a marching (border) province upon the enemy’s country.
Earl from the Saxon word for nobleman.
Count from L. comes, associate to the state.
Baron, who served the king in baronia, i.e., in wars.
Description Of England
by William Harrison, 1587.
Dover Publications, 1994, p. 96