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1100 - 1400
A widower's right to use his wife's land
This town law reflects the 'law of courtesy' whereby a man was entitled to use his deceased wife's lands for his lifetime if a living child was born to the couple, even if the child died shortly after birth. The fact that the witnesses could be either men or women may reflect the custom of women in childbirth being attended solely by women, whereas men remained outside the birthing chamber. The requirement that the child be heard to cry might also reflect the fact that men were not in the same room as the mother at the birth.
Of borowage gefyyin in fre marriage [Of a burgage land given in free marriage]
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. 41, p.20. Translation by E. Ewan