illegitimacy and entails, etc.
Posted by Linden on August 16, 1998 at 19:43:44:
In response to illegitimate children & inheriting, written by Kathy F. on August 16, 1998 at 00:23:10
] If Mr. Bennet had had an illegitimate son, would Mr. Collins still have inherited Longbourn had Mr. Bennet recognized the son in the will, or would the entail still have Mr. Collins (being legitimate) as the inheritor? W/o an entail or prenuptial papers, *could* a man leave his estate to anyone? Would a relative (child, nephew, cousin) try to sue for the land/money? What are the odds that a man would try to find an illegitimate half-brother or sister that had been raised away from the family, (like Harriet Smith in Mrs. Goddard's school)?
As I understand the situation in the Regency period, marriage among the upper crust was fundamentally about property rights.
Thus, to answer your questions (off the top of my head - maybe someone can correct this):
- Mr Collins would have inherited Longbourne whether or not Mr Bennet had and illegitimate son - he just wouldn't have counted.
- Without any legal agreement (entails, prenuptual agreements etc) yes, property could be left to anyone: and that could (and probably would, if there were no legitmate heirs) include a bastard.
- I don't think any other heirs (eg nephews) could sue if someone left their fortune to the Regency equivalent of the cat's home.
- The odds on searching for an illegitimate son or daughter would depend entirely on family circumstances. I would imagine that someone with no other children or close relatives who could be heirs would search quite hard for an illegitimate child.
If this is for a story, perhaps you could give more details of the situation you are imagining.
Hope this helps
- story details Kathy F. 08:49:32 8/18/98 (2)
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