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Monday, July 29, 2013

Laws of Inheritance: The Entail

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The Law of Primogeniture does not appear to have been in effect in the colony of Virginia during the 17th century.  This is where the "first born son" inherits the bulk of the estate, especially the home plantation. Other children are given smaller tracts or use thereof, while the widow inherits all rights to the home place (and goods) until her death occurs, whereupon, everything goes to the eldest son. The reason that this practice did not prevail during that era is rather obvious. Immigrants were coming for opportunities in a new colony, and the time table required to build wealth was still in the making.  Remember, the cost of importing lumber, nails, bricks, and other necessitities was high. Thus, the colonists' original investments were rather hefty, plus his mantatory tithings to the church as well as tariffs and taxes. If you were a planterin Virginia in those days, your tithing portion was hundreds of pounds of tobacco paid annually during unprosperous times.  Also, there were no mechanical trades of the higher grade in the colony during which the younger sons (as in England) could turn to when cutt off in the division of their father'es estate by the law of the entail, nor was there room for many of the local professions such as law, medicine and religious.

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