Brewer's: Peers of the Realm
The five orders of duke, marquis, earl, viscount, and baron. The word peer is the Latin pares (equals), and in feudal times all great vassals were held equal in rank. The following is well fitted to a dictionary of Phrase and Fable:
“It is well known that, although the English aristocracy recruits itself from the sons of barbers, as Lord Tenterden; merchant tailors, as Count Craven; mercers, as the Counts of Coventry, etc., it will never tolerate poverty within its ranks. The male representative of Simon de Montfort is now a saddler in Tooley Street; the great-grandson of Oliver Cromwell, a porter in Cork market; and Stephen James Penny, Verger of St. George's, Hanover Square, is a direct descendant of the fifth son of Edward III.” —The Gaulois.