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A description of the habits and ensigns of the officers and knights will be found in the chapter on "COSTUME," while the investitures and installations are described in the general article on CEREMONIES."
ORDER OF THE GUELPHS OF HANOVER.
"Of all the proud steeds that ever bore
MOORE's Irish Melodies.
THIS, though no longer a British Order of Knighthood, was for nearly a quarter of a century destitute of any of the characters of a foreign distinction, and British subjects have more largely participated in its honours than any of the natives of Hanover. Its Sovereign was, till the accession of Queen Victoria, the King of England, and its name and foundation inseparably connect it with his race.
The Hanoverian troops having much distinguished themselves at the battle of Waterloo, George IV. (then prince regent) determined to found an order of merit, which might, with especial propriety, be conferred upon such of them as deserved the distinction, and the 12th of August, 1815, was fixed upon as the date of its foundation.
By the second statute, the Order is inseparably annexed to the possession of the Hanoverian crown, by vesting the grand-mastership in the sovereign of that country for the time being.
By the fourth statute, the Order is divided into three classes, viz. Grand Crosses, Commanders, and Knights; and the number of individuals upon whom
these distinctions may be conferred, is declared to be unlimited.
The seventh statute confers the privilege of reception at court, and precedence before all persons of otherwise equal rank *.
The eighth statute restricts the Grand Cross to those only who have distinguished themselves while enjoying an independent command, or otherwise acting on their own judgment and responsibility.
No person in the civil service can receive the cross of Commander, unless he be of such a station in life as that he would rank with a major-general; while the third class of the Order is not restricted to persons of any particular rank.
A chapter of the Order, consisting of seven members, and a Grand Cross as president, meet on the anniversary of the foundation, to investigate claims to the Order, but all final decisions on such claims rest with the Grand Master.
None can be admitted unless they are of "good descent and birth, entitled to coat-armour, and of irreproachable conduct."
By George IV. the Order was conferred very sparingly upon British subjects; but William IV. distributed its ensigns in considerable numbers amongst military and naval officers who were ineligible for the Order of the Bath, among the great officers of his majesty's household, and among many who had distinguished themselves in arts, in science, and in literature. To such an extent did William IV.
This applies only to Hanoverians in their own country; for in England, the knights of this order have no precedence or rank.
carry this, that by promotions from the lower classes to the higher, or by new creations, he made, within the short space of seven years, the number of 569 nominations among his British subjects; viz. 79 G.C.H., 148 K.C.H., and 342 K.H.
The officers of the order consist of six, viz. a Chancellor, a Vice-chancellor, a Secretary, a King of arms, a Genealogist, and a Registrar.
No one upon whom this Order has been conferred is entitled to the appellation of "Sir," or the privileges and precedence of a knight bachelor, whether he has been appointed by the present Sovereign of the Order, or by those who were likewise monarchs of this country. The accolade, or imposition of the sword by which knights bachelor are created, is always necessary to give them this prefix, unless they also happen to be knights of the Bath.
The style by which the order is described in the statutes is, the royal Order of the Guelphs of Hanover," and not the Guelphic Order, as it is familiarly designated in England.
"No man shall be received as an esquire who cannot bring a certificate that he has conquered some lady's obdurate heart; that he can lead up a country dance; or carry a message between her and her lover, with address, secrecy, and diligence. A squire is properly born for the service of the sex, and his credentials shall be signed by three toasts and one prude before his title shall be received in my office."
THAT Courtesy of British society which extends the title of Esquire to every person who has received the education, or conforms to the habits of a gentleman,
naturally requires that some account should be given of those who are entitled to the distinction, as contrasted with those who enjoy it by courtesy. The following is a list of all who, by right, possess this title, and whom it would be incorrect otherwise to describe in any ceremonial or legal proceedings.
The sons of peers, whether titular lords or titular honourables.
The eldest sons of peers' sons, and their eldest sons in perpetual succession.
The eldest sons of knights, and their eldest sons in perpetual succession.
The sons of baronets.
The esquires of the knights of the Bath (each of whom constitutes three at his installation). Esquires by prescription, as lords of manors, chiefs
of clans, &c.; and all others being tenants of the Crown in capite, and not being peers, baronets, or knights.
Esquires by patent, and their eldest sons in perpetual succession.
Esquires by office, as
Justices of the peace while on the roll,
Sheriffs of counties, who retain the title for life. All who in commissions signed by the Sovereign are ever styled esquire, retain that designation. for life, as for example, captains in the army; but the claim of captains in the navy is not founded on this, for though they are of higher relative rank, their commissions are only signed by the lords of the Admiralty.
Barristers at law.
Bachelors of divinity, of law, and of physic.
The above list does not profess to state the relative rank of these different esquires amongst themselves, but merely the elements which compose the class. For all particulars respecting rank, the reader is referred to the article on "PRECEDENCE."
The origin of the title esquire is of considerable antiquity, and its source is coeval with that of knighthood; the designations of armiger, scutifer, scutarius, écuyer, and esquire, are all derived from the carrying of knight's shields, and other portions of his arms. But it was not till the time of Richard II. that it came to be expressly conferred by patent or investiture; and this consists in the imposition of a collar of SS, or the putting on a pair of silver spurs, the knights having had golden spurs, and the squires silver.
The COLLAR OF SS. is a mode of creation frequently referred to, but not commonly understood.
By some authorities it is described as having been founded in memory of a Roman senator, Simplicius, who with Faustinus suffered martyrdom under Diocletian; and as consisting of a silver collar, between the links of which were twelve small pieces of silver engraved with the twelve Articles of the Creed, together with a single trefoil; the image of St. Simplicius (SS.) hung at the collar, and from it seven plates representing the seven gifts of the Holy Ghost.
By others, the title of SS. is derived from the shape of the links representing the double S in their outline.