Women & the Title “Esquire”

7 April 1901— Denver Post

“Learned Judges Puzzled Over the Title Esquire;
In Doubt as to Whether it is Proper to Place it After the Name of a Woman Lawyer”

+++++“The three justices of the supreme court, the clerk, the deputy clerk, the stenographers and the bailiff have all been wrestling for two days with a legal problem and have not yet reached a solution. The question is whether the title ‘esquire’ can be properly applied to a young lady, even though that young lady be a law graduate, and the recipient of a certificate at the hands of the highest court in the state.
+++++Miss Flora E. Sillimen has successfully passed the examination before the great tribunal, and is entitled to a certificate. The clerk was filling out the certificate, and had gotten as far as the blank left for the name of the fair lawyer. He filled in the name ‘Flora E. Silliman,’ then looked at the word next following in the printed form, and scratched his head. Then he called Judge Gabbert.
+++++‘Judge, shall I leave in this word “esquire” after the young lady’s name?’
+++++‘Why, yes — no — really — I haven’t considered such a thing. Let me see. I’ll have to take the case under advisement. Go call Judge Campbell.’
+++++The chief justice hemmed and hawed, and said the question had never been raised before. He sent for Judge Steele.
+++++He, too, said that the question was one the like of which man had never yet been called upon to decide. The four argued the case, and then sent for the other court attaches to give opinions. There being but two sides to the question, there is of necessity some uniformity of opinion on each side; but no two have the same reason for their respective opinions.
+++++Webster says that ‘esquire’ comes from the French word ‘ecuyer,’ a shield bearer; which in turn comes from the Latin ‘scutum,’ a shield. But he says nothing about the title ever being bestowed upon or refused to a maiden. So that Webster doesn’t help out at all.
+++++As a consequence of this legal point the young lady’s certificate has been temporarily withheld. The learned gentlemen never seem to have thought of asking her whether she prefers to be called by the disputed title. She would settle the case in ten seconds.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s