In tracing a pair of my mother's ancestral lines back to the 16th century, the records show numerous "titles of nobility." I know some people hope to find this sort of thing in their background when they undertake family research, but I don't think this possibility figured at all into my motivation, not even in a very small way.
My mother's family came to the US because of the impoverishment of Sicily. They either brought or undertook humble occupations in this country. The men were shoemakers and barbers, while the women worked as seamstresses. U.S. Customs' records show arrivals with amounts of money ranging from $5 - $25 and plans to move in with friends or other relatives already here, which is exactly what they did. The early 20th century Brooklyn neighborhood around Hicks and Amity Streets was heavily populated by my family and immigrants from their community.
So I was not expecting to find a couple of hundred years of titles of nobility in my maternal line.
Now just what the specific titles actually meant is another question. I couldn't figure it out by Googling for clues. All it might mean is that they owned scraps of heritable land and had allied themselves with powerful patrons who awarded titles based on vows of loyalty. At most, I imagine, they may have been big shots in the their local community.
I know that some of the "nobles"in Sicily were Normans of lesser standing--it was Sicily, after all--but my DNA results don't indicate even traces of that background, so I'm left to ponder other possible explanations.