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Originally an apprentice knight in medieval Europe. Usually young men, they served as the personal attendants of fully fledged knights. The title was then one of function rather than birth: it derives from the Latin “scutarius”, referring to the shield-bearing role of the squire. In later medieval England the term came to be applied to all gentlemen entitled to bear arms. By the 17th century, “squire” had become synonymous with a district's leading landowner, perhaps even the lord of the manor. The considerable local influence, both political and ecclesiastical, of the “squirearchy” has since diminished.

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