Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|The prospect of bankruptcy had nothing to do with it;-)
Written by JulieW
(9/21/2006 10:01 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Exactly, penned by Pennie
When the old Gentleman made his will he was faced with the irresitible prospect of leaving his estate to another three gernations of Dashwooods: Henry, John and little Harry. My post here explains his motive.
It would have been thought foolhardy not to have left his estate so,IMHO.
He could have left his estate to Henry Dashwood outright( whereby Henry would have been able to provide for his wife and daughters)but the uncertianly of the estate devolving though the established male line of Dashwoods would have been a major factor for the Old Gentleman to consider, IMHO.
True,he could have left more money to the Dashwood ladies,but by leaving the Norland estate on a life tenancy to Henry Dashwood he no doubt envisaged Hery being able to save enough from his income during his tenure of Norland to leave his wife and daughters adequately provided for on his death.
Sadly, premature death was the problem in this situation, not the legal device.
Mrs Jennings is a wealthy widow,and a smart lady too. It would appear that during the negotiations for her marriage settlement the ample jointure she now enjoys was established,which ensured her adequate financial provison throughout her widowhood. Jointures were usually set up in such documents.It would also appear that the legal issue of the Jennigns marrraige were female only. Therefore there is no question of "prmogentiure"coming into operation,there being no son to inherit!
Mrs Dashwood had ,it seemes ,no opportunity to negotiate such a jointure as neither she nor her husband appears to have been particualry wealthy at the time of their marraige.Which would explain the absense of a jointure in her case.
Mrs Ferrars having the sole ownership and control of her husbands estate was an unusual situation in this male dominated society. Looking at settlments and wills from our period over the years( I have acces to my husband's frim's archive) I have not found a comparable situation. But it was perfectly legal so to do:it was only being married which placed women under a dsiablity as regards owning money. It was also pretty certain that Mrs Ferrars was going to leave her property to her sons,thereby ensuring that the Ferrars name would be associated with their estate for another genration at least.
And that was the big point of these strict settlements which were drawn up in wills and trust documents: that the estate woudl be kept together, intact and kept within the family. Leaving property to a woman would mean that inevitabley her husband's name would be associated with it,unless steps were taken to make changing names a condition of inheritance.
The cirscumstances in the Dashwood,Jennings and Ferrars families are very differnt,and that is reflected in the variety of legal devices used by JA.
I often find literary criticsim and legal history don't mix: many's the mistake/wrong assumption I have found in these introductions. The brutal facts are often not so brutal and uncaring when one considers the historical and legal context;-)
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.