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An Act for the distribution of Intestates estates.

of the perso

OOR the more equal distribution of the estates of persons dying intestate, within this dominion Distribution Be it enacted, by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council, nal estate ex- and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and cept slaves. it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That after debts, funeral, and other just expences first paid and allowed, the surplus of all and singular the goods, chattels, and personal estate, other than slaves, of every person dying intestate, shall be distributed amongst the wife and children, or childrens children, if any such, or otherwise to the next of kin to the dead person, in equal degree, or representing their stocks, according to their respective legal rights, and the rules and limitations herein after expressed, and not otherwise:The wife's That is to say, one third part of such surplus to the part. wife of the intestate, and all the residue in equal pro'The children's ortheir portion to and amongst his children, and in case any representa such child or children be then dead, to such person or tives. persons as legally represent them, other than such child or children who have had any estate, settlement or portion, from the intestate in his life time, equal in val ue to the share arising by such distribution to each of the other children: But if such estate, settlement, or portion, be of less value, then such child or children shall be intituled to so much of the surplus aforesaid as shall make his, her, or their share, or shares, equal to the share of each of the other children, as near as can be estimated; and the heir at law, notwithstanding


Heir at law any land he may have by descent, or otherwise, from shall have an the intestate, shall nevertheless have an equal part in equal share. the distribution with the rest of the children, without any consideration of the value of the land.

Whereachild dies intes

mother's life time, and

II. And if after the death of a father, any of his children shall die intestate, without wife or children, tate, in the and in the life time of the mother, every brother, and sister, and the representatives of them, shall have an without wife equal share with her; and if all the children shall die or child. intestate, without wife or children, in the life time of the mother, then the portion of the child, so dying last, shall be equally divided; one moiety to the mother, and the other moiety to the next of kin by the father;

(From edit. 1752.]


and if there be no such kindred, the whole shall be to

the mother.


III. And in case there be no children, nor any le- Where no gal representatives of them, then one moiety of the children or surplus aforesaid, shall be to the wife of the intestate, tives and the other moiety to the next of kin to such intestate, who are in equal degree, and those who legally represent them; and if there be no such kindred, then all the said surplus shall be to the wife.

Where the

IV. Provided always, That there be no represen⋅ Who may be tatives admitted among collaterals, after brothers and representasisters children; and that in case there be no wife, tives. then all the surplus aforesaid, shall be equally distri-intestate dies buted to and among the children; and if there be no without wife. child, then to the next of kin to the intestate, and their legal representatives, as aforesaid.

How to be

V. And be it further enacted, by the authority a- The widow's foresaid, That when any person dies intestate, his wi- dower of dow shall have one full and equal third part of all his slaves. slaves, which upon her petition to the court granting recovered. certificate of administration of her husband's estate, shall be assigned to her, by persons for that purpose to be nominated and appointed by the said court; and she shall hold such slave and slaves, and all their increase during her natural life, and after her death, the termined. Held and des said slaves, and their increase, which shall be then liv Vested in ing shall be appraised, and shall descend to, and be ves the heir. ted in the heir at law of the intestate, but he shall be answerable to the other children, or their legal representatives, for their proportionable value of the said slaves, in the .ne manner as is herein after directed, for the other remaining slaves.

must pay a

VI. And the other remaining slaves of the intestate And also all shall be immediately vested in his heir, but he shall be the other answerable to the other children, or their legal repre- slaves, but he sentatives, for their proportionable part of the true value of such remaining slaves, in the same manner as the value to proportion of by this act is directed for the distribution of the other the other personal estate of the intestate. children.

VII. Provided always, and be it enacted, That no- Former' thing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to rights and extend, to alter or defeat any estate, right, title, or in titles to terest, of, in, or to any slave or slaves held as dow. slaves confir er, before the commencement of this act; but the same med, shall descend, pass, and go in the same manner as if

Widow, or

her husband, permitting such slaves to be sent out of this colony, forfeits all her dower.

this act had never been made; any thing herein to the contrary, or seeming to the contrary, notwithstanding. VIII. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That if any widow possessed of any slave or slaves, as of the third part of her husbands slaves, shall send or permit to be sent out of this colony, such slave or slaves or any of their increase, without the lawful consent of him or her in reversion, such widow shall forfeit such slave or slaves, and all other her dower of such husbands estate, unto the person or persons having the reversion thereof; and if the husband of any widow, possessed as aforesaid, shall so send, or permit any such slave or slaves to be sent out of this colony, it shall be lawful for him or her in reversion to enter into, possess, and enjoy all the estate held by such husband, in right of his wifes dower and third part, for and during the lifetime of such husband.

Method ofre

tition of slaves.

IX. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforecoveringpar- said, That where any person or persons have, or shall have right to demand a third part, or have partition of any slave or slaves, such person or persons shall and may exhibit a bill in equity for that purpose, against the person or persons of whom the same may be demanded, and the court before whom such bill shall be exhibited, shall compel the defendant or defendants to answer, and shall and may proceed upon such bill and answer, although the defendant or defendants, or any of them, be under the age of twenty one years, according to the course and rules of equity, and shall and may make such decree, for the assignment of such third part, or making such partition, in such manner as shall be most agreeable to equity.

Or a propor


X. And that where it shall be necessary for the tion of the child or children of any person whatsoever, to bring any suit against the heir at law, for recovering his or their proportion of the value of any slave or slaves, pursuant to this act, such child or children shall and may exhibit his or their bill in a court of equity, for recovering such proportion; and such court shall and may proceed upon the bill, and the answer of the defendant, although he shall be under the age of twenty one years, and give such relief, for the recovering, and compelling the payment of such proportion, of the true value of such slave or slaves, as shall be agreeable to the rules of equity.


XI. And be it further enacted, by the authority afore- What part of suid, That when any person dies testate, and leaves one or two children, and no more, he shall not have power leave his his estate a testator shall to dispose of more than two third parts of his estate, by wife. will, to any other person or persons than his wife, and one third part thereof, at least, shall be given to her; and if he leaves more than two children, his wife shall not have less than a child's part, according to the number of children; but if he leaves no child, then the wife shall have at least an equal moiety of his estate: And when any widow shall not be satisfied with the provision made for her by her husband's will, it shall be Her remedy lawful for such widow, within nine months after her where she is husband's death, before the court where such will shall dissatisfied be proved, or by deed executed in the presence of two baud's will. with her hus. or more witnesses, to declare, that she will not accept, receive, or take the legacy, or legacies to her given, or bequeathed, or any part thereof, and will renounce all benefit and advantage which she might claim by such last will; and after such declaration, to demand and recover the third part of all the slaves whereof her husband died possessed, which she shall enjoy during her natural life, and after her death, or other determination of that estate, the said slaves shall go to the person or persons in whom the property thereof would have vested, in case the same had not been demanded; and moreover, such widow shall have such share of the other personal estate of her husband, as by this act is directed: But if such declaration be not made within the time before limited, she shall be for ever barred, to claim any other part of her husband's estate, than is or shall be given, or bequeathed to her, by his last will.

XII. Provided always, That if such widow dies be- Limitation fore distribution of her husband's estate shall be made, of a widows according to this act, in that case her executors or ad- right. ministrators, may demand and recover so much as shall be given her by will, and no more; and where the widow of any person dying intestate shall depart this life before administration of her husbands estate shall be granted, the right of such widow to such estate, or any part thereof, shall be determined, and her executors or administrators, shall not have any action for reco very thereof.

shall be made.

When & how XIII. And to the end due regard may be had to distribution creditors, Be it further enacted, by the authority afore said, That no distribution of the goods of any intestate shall be made before the expiration of nine months after his or her death; and that every person claiming any share or part therein, shall give bond with sufficient sureties, in the court where such distribution shall be made, that if any just debt, or debts, owing by the intestate, shall thereafter appear, be sued for, or recovered, he or she will refund, and pay back to the administrator, his or her proportionable part of such debt and debts, and of all costs and charges occa sioned thereby, that the administrator may be enabled to pay and satisfy the same.


lands and tenements.

XIV. And be it further enacted, by the authority a dower in foresaid, That the widow of every person dying intes tate, shall be endowed of one full and equal third part of all her husbands lands, tenements, and other real estate, in manner as is directed and prescribed by the laws and constitutions of the kingdom of England; and till such dower shall be assigned, it shall be lawful for her to remain and continue in the mansion house, and the messuage or plantation thereto belonging, without being chargeable to pay the heir any rent for the

Jointures ex- same. cepted.

XV. Provided always, That where any widow shall have such a jointure settled on her in the life time of her husband, as by law doth barr her of her dower, she shall not hold possession of any houses or messuages of such husband, other than what shall be so setRepealing tled on her. clause.

XVI. And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That all and every other act and acts, clause and clauses, heretofore made, for or concerning any matter or thing within the purview of this act, shall Commence-be, and are hereby repealed.

ment of this act.

XVII. And be it further enacted, by the authority a foresaid, That this act shall commence, and be in force, from and immediately after the tenth day of June, which shall be in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and fifty one.

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