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Dates:
1100 - 1400
Title:
An urban widow's rights to her husband's property
Introduction:

There were special laws, drawn up between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, which governed property rights in towns (burghs). This law specified the rights of a widow after her husband died. Note also that a daughter could be heir to her father if she had no brothers. The law was written down in Latin and later in Scots - the Scots version follows the translation below.

Document:

Of burges ayre in lande till na man assignyt [Of the burgess heir to land which has been assigned to no other person before the owner's death]

If any burgess has got land or lands of conquest [ie acquired by him other than by inheritance] within the king's burgh and he has any child as his heir and has not assigned his lands to any man before his death, his son or his daughter that is heir shall come in heritage of the lands the father had on the day he was alive and dead. But with the exception that his spoused wife shall have all her life as long as she is a widow the inner half of the house that is called the flett. And the heir shall have the other half of the said head house if he wishes to reside therein, and this I say, if the wife have no other morning-gift [gift by husband to wife on the morning following the marriage]. If she has other morning-gift, she shall use it and the heir shall use the head house by law.

Gif ony burges has gottyn lande or landis of conquest within the kyngis burgh, and he hafe ony child toll his ayre and hafe nocht assignyt his landis til ony man before his dede, his sone or his dochter that is ayre sall cum in heritage of the landis the whilk the fadre had the day he was quyk and dede. Bot this sall be sauff that his spousyt wyffe sall hafe in all her lyfe als lang as scho is widow the inner halfe of the hous that is callyt the flett. And the ayre sall hafe the tothir halfe of the hevyd hous gif hym lykis to wyn thar in. And this I say giff the wyffe hafe nane other morwyngyft And gif scho hafe othir morwyngyft scho sall ioys it and the ayre the hevyd hous of law and resoune.

Media:
Source:

Ancient Laws and Customs of the Burghs of Scotland, Vol. 1.1124-1424 ed Cosmo Innes (Edinburgh: Scottish Burgh Records Society, 1868), Leges Burgorum, no 23, p.12 Translation by E. Ewan

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