Post by email@example.com Post by Peter Stewart Post by firstname.lastname@example.org Post by Wibs Post by Teamviewer Tech Helper
In the year abt. 1532 England, Under the following circumstances which son would be the heir of the father.
If John has a wife named Ann and produces a son Thomas b. 1514, but before that date the same John has a bastard son named John, born in say 1510, by a lady named Christine.
When the wife Ann dies , John marries the same said Christine, the mother of his bastard son.
Christine becomes his widow in abt. 1532 and seems to only hold dower land.
Which son becomes the heir of the said John Sr.
John Jr. the bastard and older 1/2 brother or Thomas the younger one.
Would John Jr. still be a bastard by law, after his mothers marriage to John Sr.
An illegitimate son stays illegitimate (and so does not inherit anything by law) UNLESS he has been later legitimised by Papal or Royal decree or by an act of Parliament.
'Illegitimacy' was not necessarily a barrier to customary inheritance.
There was a discussion about this many years ago on GENBRIT (I think) relating to land held by customary tenure c1600. Eve McLaughlin, either on that forum, or in a private email to me, was of the view that in the case of a birth before marriage, it was sufficient for the parents to make a public statement that the child was theirs, get the consent of the Lord of the Manor, and hold a party (I'm paraphrasing!).
This is misleading as to inheritance law in England - the custom of
effectively legitimising children born before their parents' marriage
(by covering them with a nuptial mantle in church, ergo "mantle
children") was not accepted as feudal law. It was explicitly rejected at
the council of Merton, when the bishops tried to persuade the barons to
adopt canon law on the matter and they refused with the famous "Nolumus
leges Anglia mutare" (we do not wish to change the laws of England).
The relevant canon law advocated by the bishops was based on Roman law
of concubinage, applying as civil law in much of Europe, and in any case
this did not apply to children whose parents were not free to marry at
the time of conception or birth as in the case outlined above.
Agreed that this doesn't apply to the specific situation detailed by the OP. I was replying to the later comment by Wibs.
How far 'law' was applied to a purely local & customary matter is, of course, questionable. At least for upper yeomanry with personal contacts with the lord, there wouldn't have been any particular incentive to keep the child as a bastard once the parents had married.
The point I was making, mostly in agreement with the comment by Wibs, is
that English law did not allow for (i.e. specifically precluded)
inheritance by offspring born before the parents' marriage. The only
exceptions to this were in cases of legitimation by the king in
parliament, as with the Beaufort children of John of Gaunt in February
1397 (after a papal legitimation in September 1396 according with canon
law that was not considered effectual for feudal inheritance precisely
because of the statute of Merton in 1236).
The law was different in Scotland, where it accorded with the general
practice in other parts of western Europe derived from Roman law. (It is
still different in Scotland with the inheritance of peerages, as with
the marquessate of Queensberry today).