"Esq." in 1870's

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Wed Dec 20 16:02:33 UTC 2000

>   Both my great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather are referred to
>   in the Panama newspapers of the 1870s with an "Esq." after their names.
>   I don't believe that either of them was a lawyer. What does this mean?

I don't know the situation in Panama, but "Esq." has a long history of use
as a courtesy title to men regarded as "gentlemen"; this is separate from
various more specific uses (referring e.g. to specific orders of the
English gentry). In the U.S. currently the title is used exclusively of
lawyers and I think some public officials, but that probably wasn't the
case in 1870s Panama.

Jesse Sheidlower

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