Law, Land & Family

Law, Land & Family

Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800

eBook - 1993
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Book News
Argues that under traditional common law, women would have inherited or held 40% of the land in England by the 18th century, and that it was at least partly to prevent such a disaster that the aristocracy and gentry fought so hard to introduce changes in inheritance. Shows how the common law was gradually nullified by the entail, the use, and the strict settlement; and balances the long-term effects on land-use patterns seen by modern historians with a consideration of the immediate effects on the family members. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

The University of North Carolina Press
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. 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.

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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. 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.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, NC : University of North Carolina Press, c1993
ISBN: 9780807864708
0807864706
0807821101
Characteristics: 1 online resource (199 p.)
Alternative Title: Law, land and family

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