1

A supposed ancestor of mine, one 'Sir' Henry Kymbold (born 1280 in Hitcham, Suffolk) appears in a list of direct ancestors. Would 'sir' have even been in use in this period, or does this reflect wishful thinking on the part of some earlier genealogist. If it was in use, what would it have indicated? If a man were addressed as 'sir' would his male offspring necessarily have had some elevated standing? Would a 'sir' be considered nobility?

Thanks, Ted. Yes I saw the Wikipedia reference yesterday, but since he would've been 17 years old in 1297, thought it was worth a stab in the dark. Hitcham is in the agricultural hinterlands, and I believe subsequent generations were farmers, somewhere in the range of free or bond peasants most likely, hence the question of inheritance of privilege.

7
  • 3
    Hello & Welcome! Here you go: "The form 'Sir' is first documented in English in 1297, as title of honour of a knight, and latterly a baronet, being a variant of sire, which was already used in English since at least c.1205 as a title placed before a name and denoting knighthood..."
    – gktscrk
    Dec 16 '20 at 16:11
  • 1
    ...so since WP says the first documented use of that title is 1297, either whoever dug that up needs to publicize their source so we can move that date back 17 years, or more likely it was something else that they are translating to "Sir" (likely either "Sire" or Latin "Senior")
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 16 '20 at 16:13
  • 1
    To answer part of your question: Knights and Baronets have never been English nobility, that designation (and consequent recognition as a peer of the realm) being wholly reserved for the assorted (non-royal) Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons. The acronym "Do Men Ever Visit Boston" is useful in remembering the (descending) priority of these five English noble titles. Dec 16 '20 at 21:06
  • 1
    @PieterGeerkens - That mnemonic must have been really confusing back in 1297. ;-)
    – T.E.D.
    Dec 17 '20 at 17:19
  • 2
    @T.E.D.: The mnemonic of course refers to Boston, Lincolnshire, founded by 654 AD, and not Boston, Massachusetts. Dec 17 '20 at 17:28

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.