I've picked your brains on this subject before (here, to be precise) and my story has made some changes thanks to your amazing help. I'm currently reading What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, and I have two more books on the way, Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain and Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England.
Some details on the story: The main character, Alice, is 17 and I intend to have her debut/presented in January. Her older sister Eliza (24) will be presenting her and will serve as her chaperone; Eliza was widowed in December of 73, so her mourning period is ending and she'll be returning to society. Her son George II (named for his father) is approaching his second birthday. They are being assisted financially by their Uncle, who is a baron, because their own parents (their father is their uncle's younger twin brother) squandered away the money they had. Their mother has been ill with consumption for about 10 years.
I'm sorry for the absolute ton of questions! I just like to get things right when I can.
1. Am I correct that a baron is the bottom of the peerage totem pole? Also, I'd like to double check a few things- that they would be more likely to be referred to by their last name than their geography, and that their eldest son would also be called Lord even though he does not technically hold the title yet. How would the two younger sons be referred to in polite society?
2. Could the family have the baron title and also a baronet "title"? (I know baronet is not peerage, but it is inherited.) Could said baronet be passed to the younger brother instead of the elder baron, who I'm assuming probably wouldn't want it? If not, what would be an appropriate job for the younger brother of a baron? Would he have to have one, if he'd married wealthy and they'd acquired land? Would his daughters be precluded from being presented to the Sovereign if he wasn't at least a baronet?
3. The late husband: I could use some help on what to do with him. I wanted him to be in Society, and I wanted there to be some kind of fuss about his son's inheritance. The son was born three months after the father died. If I make him a baronet, say, what would happen for the son if Eliza remarried, especially someone of a wildly different rank?
4. All this being said: because of her small dowry and her father's status as a non-peer, her aunt is not expecting to make a great marriage. I'm planning to do a bit of Elizabeth and Darcy here, with a gentleman being drawn to her despite her (wildly) inferior rank. What would be a good rank for him to cause some gossip and turned heads, but not have them be total social outcasts if they did end up married?
Thank you so much for all your help!
Edited to fix some code I screwed up.