Esquire

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esquire

n. a form of address showing that someone is an attorney, usually written Albert Pettifog, Esquire, or simply Esq. Originally in England an Esquire was a rank above just "gentleman" and below "knight." It became a title for barristers, sheriffs, and judges.

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

ESQUIRE. A title applied by courtesy to officers of almost every description, to members of the bar, and others. No one is entitled to it by law, and, therefore, it confers, no distinction in law.
     2. In England, it is a title next above that of a gentleman, and below a knight. Camden reckons up four kinds of esquires, particularly regarded by the heralds: 1. The eldest sons of knights and their eldest sons, in perpetual succession. 2. The eldest sons of the younger sons of peers, and their eldest sons in like perpetual succession. 3. Esquires created by the king's letters patent, or other investiture, and their eldest sons. 4. Esquires by virtue of their office, as justices of the peace, and others who bear any office of trust under the crown.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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To my distaff brethren (or "sisterhood"), I say welcome; and you may use "Esq.," and need not feminize it to "Esquette" as one of our past female colleagues tried.
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