1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Commissionaire

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COMMISSIONAIRE, the designation of an attendant, messenger or subordinate employé in hotels on the continent of Europe, whose chief duty is to attend at railway stations, secure customers, take charge of their luggage, carry out the necessary formalities with respect to it and have it sent on to the hotel. They are also employed in Paris as street messengers, light porters, &c. The Corps of Commissionaires, in England, is an association of pensioned soldiers of trustworthy character, founded in 1859 by Captain Sir Edward Walter, K.C.B. (1823–1904). It was first started in a very small way, with the intention of providing occupation for none but wounded soldiers. The nucleus of the corps consisted of eight men, each of whom had lost a limb. The demand, however, for neat, uniformed, trusty men, to perform certain light duties, encouraged the founder to extend his idea, and the corps developed into a large self-supporting organization. In 1906 there were over 3000 members of the corps, more than 2000 of whom served in London. Out-stations were established in various large towns of the kingdom, and the corps extended its operations also to the colonies.