A Misused Title
(Transcribed from the Birmingham Iron Age April 16, 1874)
The title of Esquire (with us frequently abbreviated to Squire) originated in chivalric times, when sons of gentlemen, from the age of seven years, were brought up in the castles of superior lords—which was an inestimable advantage to the poorer nobility, who could not otherwise have given their children the accomplishments of their station. From seven to fourteen, these boys were called pages, or valets; at fourteen, they bore the name of esquire. They were instructed in the management of arms, in the art of horsemanship, in exercises of strength and activity, so as to fit them for tournament and battle, and the milder glories of chivalrous gallantry.
Long after the decline of chivalry the word was only used in a limited sense, for the sons and peers of knights, or such as obtained the title by creation or some other legal means. Blackstone defines esquire to be all who bear office of trust under the crown, and who are styled esquires by the king in their commissions and appointment; and bring once honored by the king with the title of esquire, they, and only they, have a right to that distinction for life.
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