Frederick Hogarth
George, Esq., Maryland and Berwick
Sat Aug 6, 2016 7:27pm

Hello again, Audrey,

I had thought there may be a faint chance that your George might have left Maryland at the date of his death, and that someone later confused the facts. Our George definitely "settled" in America and died in Berwick.

In 18th and 19th century society (as also at other times but with perhaps less discipline) class distinctions were upheld fairly rigidly. The term 'gentleman' was used to describe all in the upper class but, confusingly, it described also the lowest rank of the upper class. The next rank upwards was esquire and this denoted a gentleman who was slightly superior in lineage or property. His armorial achievement, commonly but loosely called his 'coat of arms', would feature a helmet garnished in gold to distinguish him from a mere gentleman with a plain helmet. An officer of the lowest rank in the Royal Navy and in the Army would rank as a Gentleman, but would rise to Esquire on promotion respectively up to First Lieutenant or Captain (and in the RAF today to Flight Lieutenant). Note that a Captain in the Royal Navy is equivalent to an Army Colonel. In the USA today, I am told, on the eastern side of the country the term Esquire is added as a post-nominal to the surnames of lawyers, but I doubt this was true ca 1820. Although it would not be said that in the UK a child inherited the rank "by blood", it is nevertheless true that a child would inherit the standing of 'gentle' from the parents, and that this would not be so if one of the parents had married out of his/her class. (Many Victorian novels relied on this for their plots.)

    • George, ESQ (MD)audrey19106, Sun Aug 7 1:57pm
      Thank you! This has been very helpful.