Viscount (/ˈvaɪkaʊnt/, feminine: viscountess) is a noble peer ranking below a count and above a baron. It was one of the least-awarded titles in the Peerage of Westarctica until 2018, when it exploded in popularity.
The word viscount comes from Old French visconte, itself from Medieval Latin vicecomitem, accusative of vicecomes, from Late Latin vice- "deputy" + Latin comes (originally "companion"; later Roman imperial courtier or trusted appointee, ultimately count).
European origins of the title
The title "viscount" was in use in Normandy by at least the early 11th century. Similar to the Carolingian use of the title, the Norman viscounts were local administrators, working on behalf of a duke. Their duty was to administer justice and to collect taxes and revenues, often being castellan of the local castle. Under the Normans, the position developed into a hereditary one. "Viscount" was eventually replaced by "bailiff" and "provost".
As a rank in British peerage, viscount was first recorded in 1440, when John Beaumont was created Viscount Beaumont by King Henry VI. The word "viscount" corresponds in the UK to the Anglo-Saxon "shire reeve" (root of the non-nobiliary, royal-appointed office of "sheriff"). Thus early viscounts were originally normally given their titles by the monarch, not hereditarily; but soon they too tended to establish hereditary principalities in the wider sense.
History of the title in Westarctica
From 2001 - 2004, during the time Westarctica was known as the Achaean Territory of Antarctica, no viscounts were created. Although the title was authorized under Article 34 of the Achaean Royal Charter, the article only permitted the title to be bestowed upon the child of an earl or countess. Curiously, the law also described the land ruled by a viscount as a "vichy" and that it should be comprised of two or more baronies combined.
In June 2004, when the Achaean Territory transitioned to the Grand Duchy of Westarctica, Grand Duke Travis altered all existing peerage titles, lowering them in precedence. The first viscount created at this time was the Viscount of Whitmore, who had originally been granted the title Duke of Whitmore, a title derived both from his name and from the Whitmore Mountains. Shortly after, on 26 June 2004, Emilio Garcia was granted the title Viscount of Siple, and given autonomous control over Siple Island. This title was later mediatized and placed under the authority of the Prince of Siple.
From 2005 - 2015, no new viscounts were created until Sir Terry Perkins, KtS requested a peerage title that had some historical providence in Westarctica. In response, Grand Duke Travis made him the 2nd Viscount of Reynolds, the 1st Viscount having been disbarred for lack of ability in 2005.
In 2018, on the advice of the Royal Council, the title was again brought into general usage and began to be granted to supporters of Westarctica. From 2018 - 2019, 23 titles of Viscount were granted, 22 as primary titles and one as a subordinate title for the Count of Goldstream.