The Associated Press reports that 68-year-old Memphis attorney D. Jack Smith, a former legislator and (according to his website) the nation’s senior multilevel-marketing attorney, has also been the Lord of Great Horwood, a village outside London, since 1997. Apparently, this has not been well-publicized, and Smith does not mention his lordship in his list of qualifications and achievements.
That may be because he bought it.
According to the report, Smith assembled a team of British lawyers to negotiate the sale of the title, which he bought from the New College at Oxford University. Oxford had held the title for over 500 years before D. Jack Smith, America’s senior multilevel-marketing attorney, bought it. "It’s awe-inspiring to think I have something that Oxford held alone for twice as long as the United States of America has existed," Smith said. I have a piece of pottery that I found in Greece. If it’s real (and I guess I hope it isn’t, since I think that would make it illegal to have taken it out of the country), I have something that Greece had for five times that long, and I didn’t have to pay millions of dollars for it, either. Now that’s awe-inspiring, at least to the easily awed.
Actually, Smith would not disclose how much he had to spend to become Lord of Great Horwood, a title that is an "honorarium" with no privileges or responsibilities. He has contributed to the restoration of an 11th-century church in the town and various other local causes, so at least he is doing his duty, or would be, if he had any duties.
Smith was well-known in the 1960s, when as a Tennessee legislator he sponsored the 1967 bill that finally repealed the law under which John Scopes had been prosecuted for teaching evolution in that state. He was honored in 2005 for those efforts, which by themselves probably do entitle him to a lordship, though maybe Tiny or Lesser Horwood would be more like it. Smith has been criticized more recently for opposing efforts to change the name of "Forrest Park," a park in Memphis that is named after Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest. Smith draws a distinction between his opposition to the Scopes law and his support for honoring Forrest, saying the latter is based only on the same love of history that led him to become Lord of Great Horwood.
"I wanted to try and live history and not just read about it," said Smith, asked about his quasi-noble status. "These lordships have so much tradition."