Law, land & family: aristocratic inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800
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Eileen Spring presents a fresh interpretation of the history of inheritance among the English gentry and aristocracy. In a work that recasts both the history of real property law and the history of the family, she finds that one of the principal and determinative features of upper-class real property inheritance was the exclusion of females.
Law, Land, and Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800
This exclusion was accomplished by a series of legal devices designed to nullify the common-law rules of inheritance under which—had they prevailed—40 percent of English land would have been inherited or held by women. Current ideas of family development portray female inheritance as increasing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but Spring argues that this is a misperception, resulting from an incomplete consideration of the common-law rules.
Female rights actually declined, reaching their nadir in the eighteenth century. Spring shows that there was a centuries-long conflict between male and female heirs, a conflict that has not been adequately recognized until now.
It will be quite impossible for social or legal historians in the future to ignore the arguments presented here; the subject will never be quite the same again, and that is a real achievement. This is the best kind of feminist history.
Spring accomplishes an essential goal in writing legal history, she makes a highly technical and complex topic accessible to a wide audience and she does so with a timely twist. Arnold, United States Court of Appeals.
It will be quite impossible for social or legal historians in the future to ignore the arguments presented here; the subject will never be quite the same again, and that is a real achievement". Younger Children.
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Wrigley E. Thompson early eighteenth century eldest sons England English Law entail equity evidence F.
Maitland family estate father female heirs female inheritance feoffees feudal freedom of alienation gentry and aristocratic granted Habakkuk heiress-at-law heiresses heirs male held historians husband husband's land Ibid interest jointure K. McFarlane landed family large landowners Lawrence Stone legal history limited Lloyd Bonfield London Lord Macfarlane Maitland marriage settlement marriage to heiresses married medieval Milsom nineteenth century one-third Open Elite ordinary daughters owners patrilineal peerage percent perpetuities pin money primogeniture principles provide for younger real property law settle settlor seventeenth century Shelley social society Statute story strict settlement succession tail male tenant theory tlement trust widow wife women words younger child younger children younger sons.