Earls Law and Legal Definition
Earls are people who hold a title of nobility in between a Marquis and a Viscount. Earls in ancient times served to wait upon the king for counsel and advice. They were also called Shireman, because each Earl had the civil government of a shire. Their role was later assumed by sheriffs.
They are called Counts on the continent. The wife of an Earl is called a Countess. The eldest son of an Earl generally bears the courtesy title of Viscount or Lord.