From Old French escuyer, escuier, properly, a shield-bearer (compare modern French écuyer (“shield-bearer, armor-bearer”)), by apheresis “squire of a knight, esquire, equerry, rider, horseman”, Late Latin scutarius (“shield-bearer”), from Latin scutum (“shield”); probably akin to English hide (“to cover”). Compare equerry, escutcheon.
esquire (plural esquires)
- (archaic) a squire; a youth who in the hopes of becoming a knight attended upon a knight
- a lawyer
- (obsolete) a shield-bearer, but also applied to other attendants.
- 1801: Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England - The office of the esquire consisted of several departments; the esquire for the body, the esquire of the chamber, the esquire of the stable, and the carving esquire; the latter stood in the hall at dinner, carved the different dishes, and distributed them to the guests.
- a male member of the gentry ranking below a knight
- c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2, III-ii - I am Robert Shallow, sir; a poor esquire of the county, and one of the king's justices of the peace.
- 1875 Herbert Broom and Edward Hadley, notes by William Wait, Commentaries on the laws of England, I-317 - Esquires and gentlemen are confounded together by Sir Edward Coke, who observes that every esquire is a gentleman, and a gentleman is defined to be one qui arma gerit, who bears coat-armour, the grant of which was thought to add gentility to a man's family. It is indeed a matter somewhat unsettled what constitutes the distinction, or who is a real esquire; for no estate, however large, per se confers this rank upon its owner.
- an honorific sometimes placed after a man's name
- A gentleman who attends or escorts a lady in public.
- In England this title is given to the eldest sons of knights, and the elder sons of the younger sons of peers and their eldest sons in succession, officers of the king's courts and of the household, barristers, justices of the peace while in commission, sheriffs, gentlemen who have held commissions in the army and navy, etc.: but opinions with regard to the correct usage vary. There are also esquires of knights of the Bath, each knight appointing three at his installation. The title now is usually conceded to all professional and literary men. In the United States the title is regarded as belonging especially to lawyers.
- In legal and other formal documents Esquire is usually written in full after the names of those considered entitled to the designation; in common usage it is abbreviated Esq. or Esqr., and appended to any man's name as a mere mark of respect, as in the addresses of letters (though this practice is becoming less prevalent than formerly). In the general sense, and as a title either alone or prefixed to a name, the form Squire has always been the more common in familiar use. - Century, 1914
- See also the Wikipedia article on "Esquire"
- Esquire bedel - See bedel
esquire (plural esquires)
- (heraldry) A bearing somewhat resembling a gyron, but extending across the field so that the point touches the opposite edge of the escutcheon.
- esquire in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
- The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1914