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1 - The great disinheritance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Ruth Perry
Affiliation:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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Summary

From the beginning to end, then, landowner's legal history is much to be seen as the effort to overcome the common law rights of daughters.

Eileen Spring, Law, Land, and Family, p. 35.

The basic kinship structure both in England and in Kandyan Ceylon is unquestionably bilateral but, in both cases, in the property owning sections of society, devices were introduced which greatly restricted the possibility of a female heir who had male siblings from inheriting property in land. These devices were of various kinds and patterned in different ways: they included primogeniture, entailment, and dowry payments in cash and jewellery (rather than land).

Edmund Leach, “Complementary Filiation and Bilateral Kinship,” p. 54.

Kinship societies are the only truly democratic societies on this planet; for women to share social power again, we must learn from them.

Christine Gailey, “Evolutionary Perspectives on Gender Hierarchy,” p. 62.

The disinheritance in the title of this chapter refers to the psychological not to say legal disinheritance of daughters that I believe occurred in the eighteenth century as a result of the kinship shift I have been describing. Fictional treatments of the phenomenon vary widely. Clara Reeve's The Old English Baron (1777), like Frances Burney's Evelina (1778), is the wish-fulfillment story of initial disinheritance followed by legitimation and adoption. Samuel Richardson's Clarissa (1747–8), on the other hand, is more purely tragic about the psychological meaning of disinheritance.

Type
Chapter
Information
Novel Relations
The Transformation of Kinship in English Literature and Culture, 1748–1818
, pp. 38 - 76
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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  • The great disinheritance
  • Ruth Perry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Book: Novel Relations
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484438.002
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  • The great disinheritance
  • Ruth Perry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Book: Novel Relations
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484438.002
Available formats
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Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • The great disinheritance
  • Ruth Perry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Book: Novel Relations
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511484438.002
Available formats
×