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This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

Richard Walker Esq, Esteemed DP (C&S)

Nov 07 2003 14:50
Prince Albert
It's always sad when Union hacks go insane with self-importance
Always read the small print

Somewhere amidst all the emails from System Administrator, IC Library and companies soliciting to increase the length of my penis, I have just received a piece of rather entertaining correspondence.

James Read, a most erudite member of the Medical School, recently received a bulk mail-out from Richard Walker, one of the current Sabbatical officers. Richard Walker would appear to sign his emails as follows:

Richard Walker Esq, Esteemed Deputy President Clubs & Socieities

I hope you enjoy James' reply to Richard Walker:

"Firstly please accept my apologies for contacting you out of the blue. Could possibly I trouble you to ask:

1. That you might want to check the way societies is being spelt on your outgoing messages.

2. Nowhere on the union website could I find the post of Esteemed Deputy President of Clubs & Societies. Is your job title really prefixed with "Esteemed" or are you really so insecure that you have just sneaked it in there to tell people you should command respect?

3. Are you really an Esquire or are you just being incredibly pretentious and using the title erroneously? (In Britain the title of Esquire is presently allowed to: the heir male of the younger son of a nobleman, the heir male of a knight, those who by long prescription can show their lineal ancestors were styled as Esquires, sheriff of a county, a Justice of the Peace or those styled in the Sovereign’s commission (who cease to hold the title when the office ceases), certain of the Sovereign's servants by reason of the office they bear, such as officers of arms, sergeants at arms, Companions, Commanders, Officers and Members of Orders of Knighthood and Chivalry, Sergeants at law, Queen's Counsel, Deputy Lieutenants and Commissioners of Lieutenancy, Commissioners of the Court of Bankruptcy, Masters of the Supreme Court, Royal Academicians; also persons to whom the Sovereign grants arms with the title of Esquire, persons who are styled Esquires by the Sovereign in their patents, commissions or appointments, and officers of and above the rank of Lieutenant RN, Captain in the Army and Flight Lieutenant.)

If you really do hold the title and your job description does indeed contain the word "Esteemed" then I am very sorry for contacting you in this manner (but could I just point out that the suffix as an abbreviation should always have a full stop after it). However, if you don't hold the title and the job title given to you does not contain the prefix "Esteemed" then please bear in mind you are representing a huge body of students here at Imperial College and having this attached to the bottom of emails sent on our behalf is frankly embarrassing.

Mr James Wilson Read"

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Discussion about “Richard Walker Esq, Esteemed DP (C&S)”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Nia   
Nov 07 2003 15:09

Hmmm, well I think that Richard's effervescent personality and neverending sense of humour are part of what makes him good at his job and what will help him build good personal relations with people on behalf of icu members. But I suppose these things are a matter of personal taste...

Nov 07 2003 15:28

My dear James,

Please accept my most grateful thanks for your informative email and for highlighting your concerns in such a, lets say, direct manner.

Societies is indeed spelt incorrectly, a mistake which had previously eluded me. I would presume that had your thoughtful, yet perhaps pedantic, observation not been made I could have been looking a fool for a great deal longer.

Esteemed is an adjective and as such is subjective; your opinion is noted. Its inclusion was lighthearted and I'm sorry you misread its purpose. The post title "deputy president clubs & societies", in itself, is not out of date.

Esq. is the abbreviation for the term "Esquire" as you so rightly said. It was not a title that a person earned. I believe it was a formal term of literary communication used in the British Isles during the 19th and 20th centuries, but not so common today. It was usually used when addressing envelopes to men. For example, nowadays we would begin the first line of an address " Mr James Read." The more formal way in an earlier era would have been, "Jim Read Esq."

Yes, I am pretentious, invariably you have to be in this job.

However, despite all this I do have a responsibility to represent the views of the student body. Your opinion is valuable to me. I guess I'll probably change it one of these days.



Nov 07 2003 16:07

Who is more of a fool?

The fool, or the fool who tries to tell the fool that he is a fool.

4. Sam   
Nov 07 2003 17:02

Frankly, you're all incorrect.

The thing about being a pedant is that you must always ensure you are correct, and to help you in this quest i will explain it all for you.

"Esquires" is a group of people (the members of which James explained correctly) however that is not their title (most members will have other courtesy titles). Esquire is not actually a title at all, although it may be used after a gentleman's surname; as, Sam Sharpe, Esquire.

In reality to be correct in the pedantry, you should have questioned whether Richard was a Gentleman, or perhaps of more simian ancestry.

For anyone who actually gives a flying f**k can i suggest this.

Nov 07 2003 17:28

Thank you for your reply Richard.

My problem was and still is that anyone should ascribe such an adjective as esteemed to themselves. I obviously missed the humour but perhaps such a self deprecating joke is best kept out of official emails. Well done on your classification of the word esteemed to an adjective though - you obviously did listen in at least one English class although the spelling class including societies past you by.

In fact: in the past Esquire (Latin, scutarius, shield-bearer) was a personal attendant of a knight, which evolved into an apprentice knight, and later into a lord of a manor. The numbers were swelled by those of the knightly class who did not take up knighthood. By the 14th century an esquire (armiger) practically attained equality with a knight, both in function and privileges. With the rise of the use of the term gentleman as a rank, it became increasingly difficult to know where the lower limit should be drawn. The email I first sent you details extensively who can presently use the title - I hope this clarifies things for you. I humbly ask again does it apply to you?

If you admit you are pretentious I will admit I am pedantic.

As for Mr/Mrs "thought for the day". I don't know if you meant to infer your friend Richard was a fool (albeit perhaps a lesser one than me) and I doubt he'd thank you for it. Perhaps a thought for you... Anonymity is the hiding place for the weak. What is your real name if I might ask - and i suppose if I'm dealing with the union might I also ask for your title?

For me the crowning glory of this whole ?string? is that Richard appears to simply be signing things now just with his first initial ? now if this could just extend to his emails?..


Nov 07 2003 17:36

It is a title Sam - unfortunately it has become so abused (by people who seek to appear somewhat more than they are) that you might be forgiven for thinking it can be used after any gentleman's name.

7. Sam   
Nov 07 2003 17:50

I actually disagree, and have looked this up in real books in the past (that Debretts book i linked to) because my Father has business cards which are just as pretentious as Richard.

Esquire as a suffix is applied to all gentlemen by definition. However it is the definition of "Gentleman" which has been extended and misused to cover a huge swathe of the populous.

If Richard is a gentleman, of which the heraldic definition is "one who bears Arms but no Title" then he is entitled to style himself as Esquire. It is a fault of all these "your surname and coat of arms on a useless trinket" that many people do have Arms (both arms of my family have a legitimate one related to the surname, whether i am entitle to use it is open to debate.)

So to reiterate, you must prove Richard is not a gentleman, probably by contacting the College of Arms to prove that he is not entitled to the styling.

However i would however agree with you on the Esteem. No Deputy President in recent memory has been held in esteem by anyone significant. Most DPs are reviled, maligned and abused. Perhaps it's the grace with which they bear it that marks them as Gentlemen.

8. Nia   
Nov 07 2003 18:27

Ha! The irony that one who bears arms is known as a Gentle Man.

Unless they meant the appendages most of us are born with, evolved mainly for the purpose of cuddling.

9. Sam   
Nov 07 2003 19:55

Arms! as in Coat of Arms...

10. Nia   
Nov 07 2003 20:03

But a Coat of Arms was the thing (like a coat) that went on your arms (e.g. shield and s**t) wasn't it?

11. Jimmy   
Nov 07 2003 20:14

Can you all stop being such a bunch of dog turds

Thanks for your time and patience

Sergei B

12. tom t   
Nov 07 2003 20:46

errrrr right.

'you obviously did listen in at least one English class although the spelling class including societies past you by.'

Mr Read, it is a fine thing to poke fun at anyone who has been to an English class, and yet can not grasp the simplicity of a past participle, not a noun. I refer, of course, to 'past'.

Yours endearingly,

Thomas Tibbits Esq.

13. Seb   
Nov 07 2003 22:32

Blimey Guvner, slow news day or wot?

14. Editor   
Nov 07 2003 23:37

Actually Prince Albert is an opinion column, not a news article...

15. Seb   
Nov 08 2003 00:29

Of this I am aware. I was just noting the the level of biterness creeping into an argument about titles.

Pedantic correction of otherwise obscure titles and the correct definition of a gentlemen?

It's looking like the letters column from the Times.

16. Seb   
Nov 08 2003 13:43

Which, of course, only get filled with the pedantic correspondents when it's a slow news day. :)

Nov 09 2003 05:16

More like the Telegraph, old chap, what what?

Nov 09 2003 14:12

On an unrelated note, whatever happenned to Prince Albert, the old IC publication?

It seems a shame that the name now only seems to be attached to drivel such as this.

19. Seb   
Nov 09 2003 14:33

I try not to read the Telegraph. All papers have Bias, but the Telegraphs doomed love affair with an obviously comatose Conservative party is just depressing.

Nov 10 2003 13:27

Following another whisper I heard, would a certain self appointed royal please explain the connection between a pint of beer and a rather special piano???

Nov 12 2003 15:47

I would like to make it clear that Richard Walker is held in great esteem by his collegues within BUSA London Division, and on the INter-Collegiate Sports Committee. He is, therefore, "esteemed" - his outstanding work as Divisional Press Officer has won him the love, respect, and indeed devotion of his fellow UL Officers.

Toby Boon BA (Hons) Lon.

Vice President Student Activities, King's College London.

Nov 14 2003 00:31

Hmm, there's a new suffix in town - BA (Hons). Since we don't have such things at IC, I've never been entirely clear - what's the Hons about, and who is entitled to it? Perhaps I can style myself MEng (Hons)? Probably not...

23. Sam   
Nov 14 2003 10:30

My Dear Etienne,

The vast majority of degrees at Imperial College are eligible for Honours. For example a hypothetical person who achieved an upper second class Masters degree in Information Systems Engineering from the University of London would be entitled to the appellation: MEng (Hons)

In fact as far as i know, even a third from Imperial is an honours degree - the only way you're not eligible for honours is if you don't acheive 40% in all phases of your degree, and yet by some miracle are allowed to get a pass degree. In fact a "pass" which actually means a "narrow failure to pass" is the only non-honours undergraduate degree, unless you're doing an MB BS, which is also not an honours award (although you do get the courtesy title of "Doctor" from that one, so medics shouldn't complain)

Nov 15 2003 00:56


This is getting a little pretentious... but it should be "Lond" (or "Lond.") not "Lon".

Mustafa Arif MEng(Hons)(Lond) ACGI MIEE MIEEE

Also, for undergraduate Masters' degrees (MEng, MSci, etc.) the "Hons" designation is rather redundant since only Bachelors degrees are available without honours.

Nov 15 2003 02:03

MBBS (Hons) does indeed exist Sam, and is granted to those candidates awarded an 'Honours' mark (the top few candidates) in any of their finals examinations.

Dec 19 2003 14:10

I have read through all of the messages and from a working class person with little academic achievement to crow about, my observation is that it is little wonder our country is in such a mess. Stop wasting your time on such rubbish and if you are a (A.) lecturer, esteemed or not, be thankful you don't have a real job and actually have to work for a living. (B) student, then I would focus your thoughts on something more important like not becoming a lecturer.

I would imagine that my message is full of typographical errors, don't waste time correcting them because I simply do not care.

From an outsider looking at your scarey world, goodbye and good luck.

Feb 21 2005 14:01

As a true esquire (and a bad speller) I would like to point out a few things. The list of things that make you an esquire is indeed correct (I am the great grandson of a KCVO). A gentleman is in-fact lower than an esquire (who in turn is lower than a knight etc.) though higher than a peasant (which is probably what most of you technically are). In the late 20th centaury it became customary to refer to all men of import (i.e. businessmen) as Joe Blogs, Esq. and I feel the term of peasant has become rather dated also! It is, however, very incorrect to refer to yourself as an esq. (as this is entirely presumptuous of your import-unless like me you actually are an esquire. More importantly, those who refer to themselves as esq. are invariably tosses - which is why I generally don't as everyone would assume I wasn?t really an esquire anyway. Though I think Richard was probably taking the p*** and the use of esq. in business is now very dated.

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