Term of the day: younger children

Travel obligations and internet issues are going to be interfering with daily posts for at least some of the next 10 days to two weeks. So nobody will go into withdrawal, however, The Legal Genealogist offers…

The term of the day:


Now we all know who the younger children are. I mean, this isn’t exactly rocket science, is it? For there to be younger children, you need (a) more than one kid and (b) one of them to be older.


But not exactly.

You see, in English law, the term had a very specific meaning and took into account that there was one child who got a little bit more from his position in the family, no matter where he was in the birth order.

And yes, I’m using the pronoun “he” deliberately… we’re talking here about the oldest son. Remember that in English law, the oldest son got all the marbles when it came to the family land. Under the rule known as primogeniture — the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn son to inherit the family estate, in preference to siblings1 — the oldest boy inherited, even if he wasn’t the oldest child.

So “this phrase, when used in English conveyancing with reference to settlements of land, signifies all such children as are not entitled to the rights of an eldest son. It therefore includes daughters, even those who are older than the eldest son.”2



  1. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.com), “Primogeniture,” rev. 20 Sep 2013.
  2. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1252, “younger children.”
Print Friendly
This entry was posted in Legal definitions. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Term of the day: younger children

  1. Celia Lewis says:

    Ohhhhhh, I did NOT understand this, Judy. Suddenly some confusing details are clearer. Sigh. Such a simple legal rule that has rather large influence on genealogy researching … this family? or that family? But there’s younger daughters and we know he had two or three older sisters from some family details. All clear now. Thanks once more.
    And by the way – LOVE your picture – it makes me smile every time I see you/it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>