Every schoolboy knows that the two most delightful breeds of dog are the Working Clumber Spaniel and the Newfoundland. Any author who dedicates a book to ‘Wellesley, a New- foundland dog’ is therefore by defin- ition a man of discernment. Sadly, the dedication is the best thing about the book, which is a perfectly readable, if unoriginal, canter through the English peerage since 1066, with excursions into Scotland and Ireland.For one thing, it teems with distracting howlers which undermine confidence in the author’s broader judgment. Diana Mosley was not Lord Curzon’s daughter. She was Lord Redesdale’s. This Lord Cobbold is an hereditary, not a life, peer. Lord John Manners, the 19th-century politician, was not the Duke of Rutland’s eldest son.