I am find the use of the honorific "Esq." in newspaper articles in 19th century England. I know that people were not lawyers or solicitors and they were not noble. Here is an example:
"On the 13th inst., at St. Barnabas, Homerton, by the Rev. Josiah Ballance, vicar of Horsford and perpetual curate of St. Faith's, Norfolk, uncle of the bridegroom and brother-in-law of to bride, John Descarriers, son of Thomas Ballance, Esq., of Sydney House, Homerton, to Rosa, youngest daughter of James Edmeston, Esq., of Homerton."
(Rosa Edmeston Marriage Announcement; ''The Morning Advertiser'' (London, England); Friday, 16 Sept 1864, page 8. Accessed 22 May 2016 at FindMyPast.com (http://search.findmypast.com/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0001427%2f18640916%2f076))
What does it signify? Where do these people fall in the hierarchy of titles?