GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2004-08 > 1093534054
Subject: Re: Meaning of Heirs
Date: 26 Aug 2004 08:27:34 -0700
("Sue J") wrote in message news:<000101c48ad4$533bbbe0$>...
> Hi List,
> I am going over the Will of Gregory FIENNES, 10th Dacre. In this Will
> he mentions his Heirs and also the Heirs of Anne (nee Sackville). He
> is talking in the present tense. Did Heirs mean the same thing back
> in 1594 as it does today or could that also mean siblings? It also
> appears that he gave away a lot of things to his "heirs" before this
> last Will was written so these articles, i.e. land, money or other
> possessions, could not be contested. I am still trying to prove that
> Mary Fiennes who married Frank Wheatley (Wheatleigh) was his daughter.
> Gregory and Anne did have a daughter of their own but she died very
> young before this last Will was written so these "heirs" would not
> concern her. I am just tossing some theories about here. I have info
> on the Wheatleigh family that was written in the early 1900s and was
> researched by a Consulate for USA and he conveniently skipped Mary's
> parents but said that she was the granddaughter of Thomas FIENNES and
> Mary NEVILLE. I can quote the intro to the book and the page where
> Mary is listed if anyone is interested.
> Sue in Florida
An heir is a person who will inherit automatically.
Heir, heir of the body, heir male, heir male of the body.
"Heir of the body" is a descendant. "Heir male of the body" is a son
(of a son of a son). Heir male is 1) eldest son (then his eldest
son), 2) eldest brother (then his eldest son), 3) father's brother, 4)
grandfather's brother, 5)...
"Heir" is 1) eldest son (then his eldest son), 2) next son (until
there are no more sons with descendants), 3) all the daughters
together (for partible things -- like land). For more detail, may I
suggest reading Bracton? http://hlsl.law.harvard.edu/bracton/ The
discussion of heirs begins in Vol. 2, p. 185. Now, Bracton is early
13th century (Henry III), and things changed -- but not completely.
Britton followed (Edward I), and then Littleton (~ Roses), but I
haven't found either on the Web yet. It was not the done thing to
give away all one's property, to disinherit one's heir -- the heir
Anyway, this is about land. Before Henry VIII created a glut of land,
land could not be left by will; only personalty, movables, could.
Land went to the heir -- which heir was determined by the agreement,
paperwork, that granted the land. Originally, land went to a person
"and his heirs and assigns." ("Assigns" means those to whom he
"aliened" the land, gave it or sold it.) Later, the more restrictive
verbiage was used -- and sometimes, the original wording was
interpreted as the more restrictive. (Pretty much starting under
Edward III -- gee, I wonder why he didn't like women to have any
"Property" is English legalese for "real property." American
"personal property" is, in British, "personalty." According to
Bracton, a man's will could cover only one-third of his personalty --
one-third automatically went to his heir, and one-third automatically
went to his widow. If he was a widower, he could bequeath a half.
"Dower" is the right of a widow. If no other arrangements were made
at the time of the wedding ("at the church door"), she gets a life
interest in one-third of her husband's estate -- sometimes this meant
what he'd owned on the day they were married (if he owned nothing yet,
his parents were supposed to say that her dower would be provided),
sometimes it meant what he'd owned when he died.