are not worn in the presence of royalty, because we are to stand unarmed, with the helmet off the head and gauntlets off the hands, to show we have no hostile intention. (See Salutations.)
Gloves used to be worn by the clergy to indicate that their hands are clean and not open to bribes. They are no longer officially worn by the parochial clergy.
Gloves given to a judge in a maiden assize. In an assize without a criminal, the sheriff presents the judge with a pair of white gloves. Chambers says, anciently judges were not allowed to wear gloves on the bench (Cyclopædia). To give a judge a pair of gloves, therefore, symbolised that he need not come to the bench, but might wear gloves.
You owe me a pair of gloves. A small present. The gift of a pair of gloves was at one time a perquisite of those who performed small services, such as pleading your cause, arbitrating your quarrel, or showing you some favour which could not be charged for. As the services became more important, the glove was lined with money, or made to contain some coin called glove money (q.v.). Relics of this ancient custom were common till the last quarter of a century in the presentation of gloves to those who attended weddings and funerals. There also existed at one time the claim of a pair of gloves by a lady who chose to salute a gentleman caught napping in her company. In The Fair Maid of Perth, by Sir Walter Scott, Catherine steals from her chamber on St. Valentine's morn, and, catching Henry Smith asleep, gives him a kiss. The glover says to him:
“Come into the booth with me, my son, and I will furnish thee with a fitting theme. Thou knowest the maiden who ventures to kiss a sleeping man wins of him a pair of gloves.” -
In the next chapter Henry presents the gloves, and Catherine accepts them.
A round with gloves. A friendly contest; a fight with gloves.
“Will you point out how this is going to be a genteel round with gloves?” —Watson: The Web of the Spider, chap. ix.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894