Squire

From Academic Kids

In medieval times a squire was a man-at-arms in the service of a knight, often as his apprentice.

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Squire in various European languages

The English squire comes from the Old French escuier, itself derived from the Late Latin scutarius - "shield bearer." The classical usage is armiger.


Language Title
Dutch schildknapp, jonker
French écuyer
German Knappe, Junker
Greek πυργοδεσπώτης
Latin scutarius, armiger

Present status (England)

In an English village in 19th century, 20th century, and possibly 21st century the squire is a man who through example leads a village rather like the head-boy at a public school. The squire more often than not lives at the village manor house, and owns an estate in the village. If the squire was patron of the parish church—and he often was—he would choose the vicar.

The position of squire is today totally dependant on good manners and breeding (wealth, while helpful, is not a requisite of the job). The position cannot be bought, but is given by the community. Today it is anachronistic, but in some communities it remains in use.

The term Esquire comes from squire, and can be used in place of 'Mr.' when addressing an English landowner, e.g Frederick Bloggs Esq. rather than Mr. F Bloggs. To use the term when referring to oneself is an affectation.

In the 21st century the whole idea of squire and esquire is rather confused and the term and position will probably not survive the century.

Squires in English literature

Perhaps the most famous squire among English-speaking peoples is Squire Trelawney. Trelawney, one of the many literary creations of Robert Louis Stevenson, is a Scots squire who protects young Jim Hawkins from the murderous pirates who are seeking his treasure-map, and helps him engage a crew to sail to Treasure Island.

See also

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