question about determination of death in regency period
Posted by v jones on June 02, 1998 at 14:02:29:
I was referred to your site by a helpful Regency period fanatic when I posted a message asking about entailment. Having read your rules about homework I stress that I am not a student, and am only trying to confirm a very narrow point for the purposes of authenticity in a story I am writing which is set in 1814. The sources I have found suggest (but do not confirm absolutely) that the familiar rule about assuming the death of a lost person may have been in effect in English law of 1814. I wish to be sure, because it would be crucial if an entailed property were to pass to a distant male relative as a result of such a determination of death. It seems likely that such cases must have occurred, especially with soldiers lost during the Peninsular War, or taken prisoner; sailors disappeared on sea voyages, etc. However, since the inheritance laws were so rigid at the time (as indeed they still are), I wish to find some clear authority about this rule.
The factual scenario for legal purposes is this: The eldest son of the family, heir to let us say a baronetcy, leaves home as a youth. If he were to be still absent, whereabouts unknown, past the year when if living he would have achieved his majority, this would surely cause severe disquiet in his family. If he remained absent for seven years (including the year of his majority), would an English court of the time have been forced to decide that the estate (if entailed as was typical to prevent its being inherited by a female child), must pass (upon the death of his father)to the next male relative. If so, what effect might this have at the time a legal determination of death was made (if this was possible after 7 years).
Sorry about all the parentheses. It seems trickier than it really is.
If I have offended anyone or otherwise appeared boorish I apologize in advance. I am merely trying to discover a speedy answer to this one small problem so that I may move on. I was advised to contact Pemberley as a reliable and endlessly informative source of detail and scholarship on this period in English history, so I have ventured to post this message.
Yours with thanks.
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