Starting in the Middle Ages, a squire was the shield- or armour-bearer of a knight. At times, a squire acted as a knight's errand runner.Use of the term evolved over time. Initially, a squire was a knight's apprentice. Later, a village leader or a lord of the manor might be called a squire, and still later, the term applied to key public figures, such as justices of the peace or members of parliament. In contemporary American usage, squire is the title given to justices of the peace or similar local dignitaries. Squire is a shortened version of the word esquire, from the Old French escuier (modern French écuyer), itself derived from the Late Latin scutarius ("shield bearer"), in medieval or Old English a scutifer. The Classical Latin equivalent was armiger ("arms bearer").

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