The title of Viscount had its origin in the office of the deputy or the lieutenant (Vice-Comes) of a Count, which had become hereditary in the Empire by the beginning of the tenth century. It was also used as the Sheriff if a county. Henry VI, crowned King of England and France, created John Lord Beaumont in 1440 Viscount Beaumont in England and Viscount Beaumont in France (a title forfeited by the Duke of Alencon in 1415, and vacant on the death of the Duke of Bedford in 1435), in order to integrate the titles of the two countries. The peerage title received precedence above all Barons, but it did not become popular until the seventeenth century. Viscounts were always created by patent.
A Viscount's style is Right Honourable. He is addressed by the King or Queen as Our right trusty and well-beloved cousin (and counselor when of the Privy Council).