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Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Hierarchy of Inheritance During the 17th and 18th Centuries

The Hierarchy of Inheritance During the 17th and 18th Centuries

Scales of JusticeThe Laws of Inheritance in the American Colonies followed those of Great Britain. Generally speaking, when a father left a last will and testament, his married daughters could not inherit. This situation was frequently resolved by the father bequeathing the items to her husband to be used for the care and support of his daughter. In certain instances, he is more specific and employs such phrases as "The husband of my daughter is to have no control over her inheritance. " One might suppose that such traditions were unfair, but gentlemen were responsible for the affairs and well-being of ladies. It was the tradition of a more gentile era. Another example is that it was customary for the eldest son to inherit the home plantation. Irrespectively, the widow was not to be excluded the comforts of her home. A frequent statement in an old will "my wife shall have the use of the plantation, tools, furniture, etc. so long as she lives." In the event no provision was written into the will for the care of the widow, then she applied to the court for a year's support. The result was usually that certain assets were set aside for her, such as furniture, animals and land. Annual Returns, receipts, vouchers and sales of estates should be thoroughly examined for clues as to burial, business in other regions, to whom the debts were paid, receipts from in-laws and others, and so on. Plantation life was a huge undertaking. It involved crops, supplies, animals other collateral and debt. The inventories usually listed money owed to the deceased in the form of promissory notes as well as the debts of the testator. In those days, tobacco was easily grown and served as a popular form of payment. One might assume a certain cruelty in providing the eldest as the major recipient of the plantation, however, such an inheritance was an enormous responsibility. While other sons inherited lesser amounts of land, it represented farms in other regions. Thus, it was incumbent upon younger sons to either find respectable positions of honor, like that of a clergyman, or to migrate into other regions of the country. Although the colony of Virginia was highly successful in the tobacco business at home and abroad, by 1800, the land was pretty well worn out. Therefore, the driving force of immigration from Virginia was the search for fertile land elsewhere, particularly with the removal of Indians and drawings in land lotteries and such.  Names of Bath Co. VA Ancestors

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