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1100 - 1400
Inheritance rights when a burgess has married more than once

Special laws, drawn up between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries, governed life in the towns. This law dealt with the inheritance rights of the children of a man who had married more than once. Compare the rights of the widow of a second marriage with the widow in the document 'An urban widow's rights to her husband's property'. The law was written down in Latin and later in Scots - the Scots version follows the translation.


Of burges at has had syndry wyffis [Of a burgess that has had more than one wife]

If any burgess has had two wives or more and has many lands, and with each of his wives has had several sons and daughters, all the lands which he had the day he dies, both inherited and of conquest [acquired by purchase or in other ways] that he has not assigned to any man, the lands that were acquired during the time of his first wife shall go to the children heirs of the first wife. And in the same manner the lands that were acquired in the time of the other wife shall go to her children heirs, if they have not been given earlier or assigned lawfully to any man. And the second woman shall not be in the house of the first heir after the death of her husband any longer than 40 days.

Gif ony burges has hade twa wyffis or ma and has mony landis, and with ilkane of his wyffis had gottyn syndry sonnys and dochtyrs, all the lands the whilk he hade that day at he was quyk and dede, alswele of heritage as of conquest as he hade nocht assignyt till na man, the landis at war gottyn in the tyme of the first wyffe sall turn agayne to the childer ayris of the fyrst wyffe. And on that ilke maner the landis that war gottyn in the tyme of the tothir wyffe sall turn till hyr chylder ayris, gif that be nocht giffyn befor na assignyt till ony man lachfully. And the second woman sall nocht be in the hous of the first ayre eftir the dede of hir husband bot xl days.


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 24, pp12-13. Translation by E. Ewan

Tags: law children inheritance