Scotch-Irish-L Archives

Archiver > Scotch-Irish > 1998-02 > 0886698168

From: Edward Andrews <>
Subject: Re: Fw: The Irish in America
Date: Thu, 05 Feb 1998 17:02:48 +0000

linda Merle wrote:
> Hi guys, sorry I've not responded -- I gotta go to work too.
> But anyway, Edward, one of the things I've noticed about my
> family is they did not observe primogeniture. We are lucky
> enough to be at the place of origin in the USA -- Western PA,
> so my sister has done a lot of work with wills.
> I do not know where they picked up the habit -- is it/was
> it common for lowlanders to observe primogeniture and was/is
> it observed in NI today?
> Not trying to fight -- trying to learn here. We were surprised
> that ours didn't.
This odd bit of memory goes back to my undergraduate days when I was
doing Irish History.
One of the questions which was being discussed was how the Ulster
Prods managed to be that bit better doing than their Catholic
neighbours. Nationally it could be argued that the Catholics tended to
be on the poorer land.
The argument was that in the Catholic community - which was still
bound by the Behon laws (sp?) the land was shared out among all the
sons, while in Ulster the land went to the Eldest, which meant that
the other children had to go off and make a living for themselves.
It also allowed for the build-up of capital in the family.
In Scotland, there is a fixed way in which part of a person's estate
is divided, with only a proportion available for free distribution.
I think - and I am dredging the very bottom of my memory, and am open
to correction, that part of the anglicizing measures in Ireland was
that the rules on wills was changed - was it Poining's Law? I don't
know. Whenever it was Land in N. Ireland is usually held together and
passed on as a block, but obviously things like death duty and
inheritance tax has meant that things are done differently.

St Nicholas Buccleuch Parish Church Dalkeith
Visit our Web site

This thread: