Select Page

Older, younger, say what?

Today is the first full day of the 2017 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and a full week of teaching awaits. 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

So here, with a family of four, three girls and then the youngest, a boy, you can see… the younger children.



Note: This topic was originally covered in 2013. But hey… it’s still useful!

  1. Wikipedia (, “Primogeniture,” rev. 17 Jan 2017.
  2. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 1252, “younger children.”
Print Friendly, PDF & Email