For whatever it's worth, this is from the Long Branch (NJ) Record, 21

September 1900, pg. 5, col. 5:


To Only Certain Classes Should "Esq." Be Applied.

The word "esquire," or, as it is generally abbreviated, "esq." is

becoming more and more obsolete in America. And it is well that this is so,

for it never had any place here. Even in England, where it belongs, it is

woefully misused, and always has been, for not one person out of a great many

can tell who are legally esquires. They are all sons of peers, baronets and

knights; the elder sons of the younger sons of peers, and their eldest sons

in perpetuity; the eldest son of the eldest son of a knight, and the eldest

son in perpetuity; king of arms, heralds of arms, officers of the army and

navy ranking as captains and upwards, sheriffs of counties for life, J. P.'s

of counties while in commission, sergeants-at-law and Queen's counsel,

companions of the orders of knighthood, the principal officers of the Queen's

household, deputy lieutenants, commissioners of the court of bankruptcy,

masters of the Supreme Court and those whom the Queen may see proper to style

"esquire." All others have no right to anything beyond the simple prefix

"Mr."--Louisville Courier-Journal.