The man I've been researching, William Henry (1729-1786) of Lancaster, PA, was a craftsman (gunsmith) who served as a justice of the peace as early as the 1750s.
Welcome to H-SHEAR!
H-SHEAR is dedicated to enhancing scholarly communication on the history of the early American republic, during the period 1775 to 1860. The network is sponsored by SHEAR, the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic, and is owned by H-Net, Humanities & Social Sciences Online, currently centered at Michigan State University. Click here to learn more...
The latest from H-SHEAR...
By this time in Virginia, the use of "Esq." indicated, more often than not, that the individual was an office-holder at the local level (or higher) or was a member of a fraternal organization - I say this from research experience and without any good/definitive references to suggest. You've piqued my interest...I will check with some of our more senior historians to see if they have anything to add.
John Metz - Library of Virginia
A follow-up from my previous reply. I spoke to a learned colleague of mine, Brent Tarter, who offered the following: