BACHELOR (Fr. bachelier, Lat. baccalaureus, or, as it is variously written in old docu ments, barcalarcus,•bacularius, and bacillarius). This word, which first makes its appear ance in middle-age Latin, is of very uncertain etymology, and its primary meaning is consequently involved in obscurity. The usual derivation, from barca laurea, a laurel berry, gives us little help; but the Spanish bachillir, which means at once a babbler and a master of arts, taken in conjunction with the Portuguese bacharel and bacillo, a shoot or twig of the vine (from the Latin baculus or baculum, a stick or shoot), and the French bachelette, a damsel, seem to point to its original and generic meaning, which probably was a person shooting, or protruding from one stage of his career into another more advanced. With this general signification, all the special meanings of the word given by Ducange seem to have some analogy. 1. It was used, he says, to indicate a person who cultivated certain portions of church-lands called baccalaria—which he supposes to have been a corruption of vasseleria—a feu belonging to an inferior vassal, or to one who had not attained to a full feudal recognition. 2. It indicated ecclesiastics of a lower dignity than the other members of a religious brotherhood—i.e., monks who were still in the first stages of monkhood. 3. It was used by later writers to indicate persons in the first or probationary stage of knighthood; i.e., not esquires simply, but knights who, from poverty and the insufficient number of their retainers—from their possessing, perhaps, only the baccalaria above referred to-or, from nonage, had not yet raised their banner in the field (la/ banniire). 4. It was adopted to indicate the first grade or step in the career of university life. As an academical title, it was first introduced by pope Gregory IX. in the 13th c., into the university of Paris, to denote a candidate who had under gone his first academical trials; and was authorized to give lectures, but was not yet 'admitted to the rank of an independent master or doctor. At a later period it was introduced into the other faculties as the lowest academical honor, and adopted by the other universities of Europe. See DEGREES, UNIVERSITY. 5. It came to be used in its popular meaning of an unmarried man, who was thus regarded as a candidate or proba tiOner for matrimony.
The legislation of almost every country, at some period of its history, has imposed penalties on male celibates or bachelors, on the principle that every citizen is bound to rear up legitimate children to the state. By the Jews, the command, " Be fruitful and multiply,' was interpreted strictly, and every Hebrew regarded marriage as a duty.. Iu Sparta, where the interests of the individual were entirely sunk in those of the state, criminal proceedings were authorized by the laws of Lycurgus not only against those who neglected to marry, but against those who, from marrying late in life, or any other cause, formed such alliances as rendered the procreation of healthy children unlikely. By the laws of Solon, celibacy was also treated as a crime, though the practice of inter fering with the feelings of the individual in this respect early fell into desuetude at Athens. At Roma, penalties and disabilities were imposed on unmarried men from an early period, and latterly on unmarried women also. In the allotment of the Campanian
lands, Julius Caesar gave portions only to those who had three or more children; and in later times we have the jus trium (guatuor et guingue)liberoum. The most important provisions on this subject are contained in the law (or rather the laws, for it con sisted of an act and an amended act) called Lex Julia et papia poppies, the first portion of which belongs probably to 18 B.C., and the second portion to 9 A.D. In addition to various other provisions regarding marriage, this law imposed penalties on those who lived in a state of celibacy after a certain age. to unmarried persot could take a legacy, whether of a portion or of the whole possessions of a deceased person, unless he complied with the law—i.e., got married within 100 days from the testator's death. Widows were at first allowed 1 year from their husbands' death, and divorced women 6 months from the time of the divorce, before they came within the penalties'of the law; and these periods were afterwards extended to 2 years, and 1 year and 6 months respect ively. The original provisions of the law did not apply to men beyond 60, or women above 50, but they were extended to them by subsequent enactments, and made perpet ual even in case of their marrying. The senates consultum passed in the time of Claud ius, however, again exempted men above 60 who married wives under 50, as from their unions it was supposed there was a fair prospect of issue. Childless married per sons, moreover, from the ages of 25 to 60 in males, and 20 to 50 in females, were sub ject to the penalties of the lea, to the extent of losing one-half of any inheritance or legacy which might be bequeathed to them. The lex papity also contained a provision by which a candidate who had several children was preferred to one who had fewer; and various other premiums on fruitfulness were held out both at Rome and in the provinces.
In Britain, there are numerous instances of additional or higher taxes being imposed on bachelors and widowers, but apparently more with a view to the revenue than with any other object. Of this 6 and 7 Will. III. c. 6, which was passed in 1695, and which granted to his majesty certain rates and duties upon marriages, births, and burials, and upon bachelors and widowers for five years, "for carrying on the war against France with vigor," is ap instance.; arid another, probably, may be found is the higher charge fur the servants of bacnclors, first imposed by Mr. Pitt in 1785, and continued for a con siderable time. By 52 George III. c. 93, unmarried daughters of persons alive were exempted from the tax upon hair-powder; and in the income-tax of 1798. deductions were made on account of children, 5 per cent being allowed to a person who had a family, and whose income was above .C60, and nnder £400 a year, corresponding deduc tions being made in other cases. Much might be said in favor of such distinctions, on the ground of expediency, as they enable the government to impose it higher taxation, by lessening the burden on those members of the community who are most likely to complain; but their recognition in practice would, no doubt, he regarded as impossible by the financiers of our day, who have hitherto failed to distinguish between income derived from realized property and from personal labor.