Law, Land & Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800

Law, Land & Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800

Law, Land & Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800

Law, Land & Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England, 1300 to 1800

Synopsis

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 argues that one of the principal and determinative features of upper-class inheritance was the virtual exclusion of females from land homing. Tracing the gradual nullification of common law rules under which 40 percent of English land would have been inherited or held by women, Spring makes possible a fuller understanding of the social history of land law.

"(A) lively and combative book.... 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". -- Times Literary Supplement

"A highly original and provocative book which overturns a great deal of accepted wisdom, with implications for legal, family, and women's history". -- Continuity and Change

"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". -- Law and History Review

A provocative analysis that recasts inheritance law and the history of the family

Excerpt

And thou shall speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

-- Numbers 27:8

Jane and Elizabeth attempted to explain to their mother the nature of an entail. They had often attempted it before, but it was a subject on which Mrs Bennet was beyond the reach of reason, and she continued to rail bitterly against the cruelty of settling an estate away from a family of five daughters in favour of a man whom nobody cared anything about.

-- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice . . .

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