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"Squire" was not an official title, but a term of regard for the foremost landowner of a town or borough. Falling into the category of "landed gentry," (prosperous people who have high social standing but are not titled), a squire typically had strong historical ties to the community. He would serve in a non-agricultural capacity, such as a justice of the peace, and would rent out his land to tenant farmers.

From Wives and Daughters, Part One, Chapter IV

...Perhaps the man of all others to whom Mr Gibson took the most kindly - at least, until Lord Hollingford came into the neighbourhood - was a certain Squire Hamley. He and his ancestors had been called squire as long back as local tradition extended. But there was many a greater landowner in the county, for Squire Hamley's estate was not more than eight hundred acres or so. But his family had been in possession of it long before the Earls of Cumnor had been heard of; before the Hely-Harrisons had bought Coldstone Park; no one in Hollingford knew the time when the Hamleys had not lived at Hamley. 'Ever since the Heptarchy,' said the vicar. 'Nay,' said Miss Browning, 'I have heard that there were Hamleys of Hamley before the Romans.' The vicar was preparing a polite assent, when Mrs Goodenough came in with a still more startling assertion. 'I have always heerd,' said she, with all the slow authority of an oldest inhabitant, 'that there was Hamleys of Hamley afore the time of the pagans.' Mr Ashton could only bow, and say, 'Possibly, very possibly, madam.' But he said it in so courteous a manner that Mrs Goodenough looked round in a gratified manner, as much as to say, 'The Church confirms my words; who now will dare dispute them?' At any rate, the Hamleys were a very old family, if not aborigines...

Part One, Chapter VIII

...In his father's eyes, Osborne was the representative of the ancient house of Hamley of Hamley, the future owner of the land which had been theirs for a thousand years...

English Society Illustrated:
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Land Agent | Governess | Servants

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