GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2010-08 > 1281002330
From: Matt Tompkins <>
Subject: Re: Age limit of a squire
Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2010 02:58:50 -0700 (PDT)
References: <email@example.com><B68A82216B9A4B92BCCB2C35F2F8E801@DadPC> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
On 4 Aug, 04:53, "Peter A. Kincaid" <> wrote:
> Is it safe to say that a person in the 1440s who is
> referred to as the grantor's squire was a male
> between the age of 14 and 21? Is there a situation
> where they could be still referred to as a squire after
> the age of 21 instead of a Knight or 'Arma Patrina'?
> On Wed, 4 Aug 2010 01:28:54 -0300, "Peter A. Kincaid"
> >The King is confirming a lease of land granted in 1444
> >in which the grantee of the lease is called 'my luvid
> >sqwyer' by the grantor (not the King). I am wondering
> >if this is proof that the grantee must been 21 or under
> >as he would not have been called a squire after 21.
> >Hence my question, could a person be called their squire
> >after the age of 21?
On 5 Aug, 02:08, "Peter A. Kincaid" <> wrote:
> Thank you for your reply! I had not thought
> this myself but recently came across definitions
> for 'Arma Patrina' which one states they are squires
> who have grown too old to qualify for knighthood.
> There are chivarly sites which say squires were
> between the age of 14 and 21. This has thrown me
> for a loop. I don't know where this might have come
> It would be nice if this were so as one could have a
> good idea when the person was born. However, I locate
> one reference today which notes that Patrick Crichton
> of Cranstonriddel was referred to an esquire throughout
> his career.
Squire, or esquire, was a term whose meaning changed during the later
middle ages. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it generally
meant a superior knight's servant. Some of these servants, generally
those of gentle birth, would themselves go on to become knights in due
course, but others would have remained mere servants throughout their
life. However even for the gentle-born knights--to-be it was never
the case that squirehood always lasted exactly 7 years and always
ended with promotion to knighthood at the exact age of 21 - the ages
at which individuals became squires and were knighted varied
tremendously (and anyway many individuals became knights without ever
having served as squire to another knight at all) - so it is never
possible to say that someone referred as a squire must have been aged
between 14 and 21.
However by the end of the fourteenth century squire/esquire had
acquired a new meaning, and instead of a job description had begun to
describe a social class - esquires were now a rank of gentry below the
knights (at this time knighthood was less commonly taken up, and many
men who in previous centuries would have been knights were now content
to remain mere esquires). Initially esquire pretty much meant all
gentry who were not knights, but during the fifteenth century esquire
began to be used only of the upper echelon of that group, leaving the
residue to be described by the new term 'gentleman'.
The old meaning of superior servant remained in use for some time,
though, and it seems likely that your 1444 lease is using the term in
that way. One would have to know a bit more about the parties to be
sure, though - if the lessor were a magnate then he might well be
referring to one of his retainers who happened to be an esquire by
status (in the same way he might refer to 'my yeoman' or 'my knight').
PS the term 'arma patrina' is completely unknown in English history,
and also in Scotland, so far as I'm aware. I've just done a google
search against it and found a number of websites which assert that
"Squires who had either grown too old to qualify for knighthood or who
were unable to afford the expense of knighthood were called 'Arma
Patrina, but were allowed to carry a lance and shield even though
these were generally restricted by the customs of war to the
chivalry". Nothing in that sentence is correct, so far as medieval
England is concerned, and I'm pretty sure it is equally wrong of