I'm reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and wonder what is a district squire, as Mr. Trelawney in the novel.

Squire, as wiki explains:

Beginning in the Middle Ages, a squire was the shield or armour bearer of a knight. At times squires acted as a knight's errand runner or servant. Use of the term evolved over time. Initially, squires were a knight's trainees/apprentices. Later a village leader or a Lord of the Manor might be called a squire, and still later the term applied to key public figures such as justice of the peace or Member of Parliament.

So, squire could be a "village leader", a "Lord of Manor", or "justice of the peace".

From the novel seems Mr. Trelawney possibly owned a manor, as Dr. Livesey went " to the Hall to dine and pass the evening with the squire".

However, it seems the "squire" title of Mr. Trelawney means not only possession of some real estate, as the wiki page says: "He is associated with civic authority and social power".

What kind of authority and power does a squire have? Mr. Trelawney seems to have the power to order his fellowmen to take a risky trip with him: John Hunter and Richard Joyce are his manservants, while Tom Redruth is his gamekeeper. All three joined the trip as Mr. Trelawney calls, though "old Tom Redruth ... could do nothing but grumble and lament". And, alas, all three died.

Is such authority and power due to Mr. Trelawney's personal charisma? or is it also due to some social hierarchy of then English society?

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    I'd hazard a guess that he can order them about because he's their boss; no additional civic authority or power is required. They could refuse, of course, but that would probably get them fired. (A less unfortunate outcome than the indicated, but still something that they probably wanted to avoid.) – Hellion Sep 29 '14 at 19:08
  • It means "generic, low-level aristocrat". It establishes him as the "social superior" of the other characters, but without elevating him to true nobility, allowing him his little foibles. – Dan Bron Sep 29 '14 at 19:09
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about social history, not the inherent meaning of English words. – FumbleFingers Sep 29 '14 at 19:11
  • @FumbleFingers Agreed; this would have been better asked on Literature, but it's now far too old to migrate. – Rand al'Thor Jul 27 '19 at 10:12

Trelawney is not a peer, holder of a formal patent of nobility, or he would be addressed by the appropriate title. And he is not a JP—that is Dr. Livesey, who is three times identified as a 'magistrate'. Note that it is to Dr. Livesey that Mr. Dance first thinks of reporting, with Trelawney as the alternative, and that Trelawney generally (if sometimes with a degree of bluster) defers to Livesey.

Squire here a 'courtesy' title, accorded Trelawney by people of his neighbourhood presumably in acknowledgment of his status as the most prominent landowner of the district (that, as you surmise, is the significance of his residence being called 'the Hall', capitalized and definite-articled). Note that he has sufficient wealth to purchsae and fit out a fully-manned schooner, a very substantial capital investment. In rural England well into the 19th century such men held very great social prestige and power locally. As a class, too, they held substantial political power, since the electorate was narrow: typically only a very small number of wealthy landowners.

Trelawney's authority over Hunter, Joyce and Redruth, however, does not derive from any of these, but from his status as their employer—as does, for that matter, his authority over his captain and crew.

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