Because sometimes it helps to know your place.
During Jane Austen's time, English society revolved around a social hierarchy that managed much of what one did or spoke. This then reflected much on your particular position within the British Empire (and other establishments just like it). One's rank (title, or lack thereof) greatly determined one's social class and inherent benefits of "the good life". Royalty was always held in the highest position by default though, even among royals, there proved a pecking order of sorts, an order that - in some form - still exists even today. Below is a basic listing of various ranks and their respective orders which can prove useful in piecing together a perspective from which Jane Austen approached her very writings.
Royalty (called “your Majesty” or "your Highness"):
Nobility (called “Lord/Lady”):
Commoners (called "Sir/Lady" or "Mister/Mrs."):
Landed gentry (land-owners)
*To distinguish between a noble Lady (i.e. daughter of an earl) and a non-noble Lady (i.e. wife of a knight), the first name of a noblewoman was used with her title. For example: Lady Catherine de Bourgh is of noble lineage while Lady Lucas is not.
Other Gentlemen (called "Mister" or rank title "Captain, Colonel, etc..."):
Navy and Army officers
• Jane Austen Basics
• Life Timeline
• Books / Works
• Regency Period
• Regency Period Glossary
• Regency Period Fashions
• Rank and Class in the Regency Period
• Royal Genealogy
• British Military Ranks
• Researching Jane Austen