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Posted by Lewis on June 27, 2003

In Reply to: Squirely posted by James Briggs on June 27, 2003

: : : Does anyone know what the term "squirely" really means and where it came from? Thanks!

: : Are you thinking of "squirrelly," meaning like a squirrel? It describes someone who's ditzy, scatterbrained, flaky. Squirrels run around a lot and often change direction.That's my guess about where it came from.

: It could mean 'acting like a squire'. Squires were local dignitaries in 18th century England, usually the most prosperous and influential person below the nobility.

The title of "Squire" goes back to mediaeval times - it was the rank of trainee knight. The "squire" was responsible for the knight's horse in particular and helped the knight dress for battle, which was a difficult task with so many straps on the armour etc. If a young man completed their training period of a squire, then they were eligible to be made a knight, so a son with ambitions as a fighting man would be sent by his family to be the squire for another lord, which broadened their horizons and gave some objectivity as to whether the person had the aptitude to become a knight. I think that the Orders of Knights, such as the Templars or the Knights of St John, also used the position of squire as part of their structure.

As posted above - the position of "country squire" came to mean the authority figure for an area and the squire would usually call their home a "hall".
I think that "Manor" later came into use as a title for squires' homes, as although there is the expression "Lord of the Manor", the Lord would usaully expect to live in a castle, rather than a manor house or hall. A "manor" came to mean an area with a similar meaning to "parish" although the latter was an area of land based upon the church.

"Squire" also has a colloquial use as a deferential or mock-deferential form of address for any man.