Early Colonial New England:

Ministers, high officials and the richest farmers were the gentry. They were addressed as "Mister" and sometimes referred to as "gentlemen". Their wives were addressed as Mistress.

As an example, the town of Plymouth section of the 1643 list of those able to bear arms in Plymouth Colony has nearly 150 names on it, but only William Hanbury, John Atwood, John Done, William Paddy, William Bradford, Thomas Prence, and John Reynor are referred to as "Mister".

One could move up the social ladder. Richard Bourne, for example, is first referred to as Goodman Bourne, but later in life he became Mr. Richard Bourne.

A prosperous farmer tending his own land was a yeoman. Below a yeoman was a husbandman who farmed for himself, frequently on leased land. Yeomen and husbandmen were addressed as "Goodman"; their wives were addressed as "Goody".

Those lower in rank were addressed by their names, without a title.

Later on, "Mister" became a more widespread form of address.

England by the 16th century

The gentry were typically those who held enough assets to not have to work. They might have worked as priests, lawyers or officials. (Non-heriditary) knights were usually large landholders, important officials, priests or lawyers. The title esquire was typically attached to gentry who were not knights.

Below knights were yeoman who farmed their own land.

Below yeoman were husbandmen who farmed rented land or who owned very small amounts of land.