One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1British A polite title appended to a man's name when no other title is used, typically in the address of a letter or other documents.‘J. C. Pearson Esquire’
- ‘On Monday last, R. Burn Esq., and Mrs Burn, of Orton Hall, gave their annual treat to the children attending Sunday school, along with their teachers and other invited friends connected with the Church.’
- ‘Nearly a year passed before she had a reply to her letters, which she addressed simply but hopefully to ‘William Swain, Esq., Sutters Fort, on American River, California’.’
- ‘Croglin Hall was sold by William, son of Sir Charles Howard, to George Towry, Esq., who possessed it in 1688.’
- 1.1North American A title appended to the surname of a lawyer (of either sex).
- ‘On Octoberber 18, 2003, Martin James, Esq., a newly qualified attorney, went to the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, to visit a client.’
- ‘William M. Winter, Esq. and Valerie B. Simpson, Esq. are attorneys in the tax department of a Los Angeles-based law firm.’
2historical A young nobleman who, in training for knighthood, acted as an attendant to a knight.
- ‘Commoners therefore include knights as well as esquires, gentlemen, serfs, and so on.’
- ‘Oddly enough, that relationship, though it was known less than 100 years ago, is not as familiar and understandable to us today as that of a knight and his esquire.’
- 2.1 An officer in the service of a king or nobleman.
- ‘Recently, Simon Walker has highlighted the case of one John Kingsley, an esquire in the service of Henry IV's enemy, Thomas Mowbray, heir to the dukedom of Norfolk.’
- ‘He soon transferred to the young Henry VI's service, becoming an esquire of his household, and accompanied Henry to Paris for his coronation as King of France.’
- 2.2as title A landed proprietor or country squire.‘the lord of the manor, Richard Bethell Esquire’
- ‘The ideal-type justice was a local landowner of some substance: peer, esquire, or at least gentleman.’
- ‘This was William Mair, esquire, merchant, landowner, magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant for Middlesex.’
esquire of the (king's) body
historical An officer in charge of dressing and undressing the king.
- ‘The earliest reference to Francis was his appointment as esquire of the body to Henry VIII in 1516, an office his uncle Sir Thomas had held in 1485 under Henry VII.’
- ‘When Henry reached his majority in 1437, Hull was appointed one of the esquires of the body, and after the King's marriage in 1445 he became a carver to Queen Margaret.’
Late Middle English: from Old French esquier, from Latin scutarius ‘shield-bearer’, from scutum ‘shield’; compare with squire. esquire (sense 2 of the noun) was the original denotation, esquire (sense 1 of the noun) being at first a courtesy title given to such a person.
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