basically, I'm old and cranky (somewhatdeluded) wrote in little_details,
basically, I'm old and cranky

Inheritance and titles in late 18th/early 19th century England

Okay, I've read everything I can find on this, and I'm still a bit confused. I'm writing a fairy tale that's set in an analogue of Austen's England, and I have a few things I want to confirm.

- Lord So-and-so has two adult sons and a wife. Lord So-and-so dies. At that point, his wife is now referred to "The Dowager Lady So-and-so", and his eldest son becomes "Lord So-and-so", correct?

- What would you call the deceased Lord So-and-so's younger son? The younger son's wife?

- And if you were directly addressing the Dowager Lady So-and-so, would you still call her "Lady So-and-so" to her face, or something else?

- One thing I've never really understood in Austen is the nitty-gritty of why some women can inherit and others can't. If I'm reading my sources right, it is possible that Dowager Lady So-and-so has some considerable fortune of her own, unrelated to the fortune of her husband, and that she would be potentially be capable of cutting off one son or the other if she wanted to, in favor of leaving everything that was hers to the other. Even if her husband's fortune and title was guaranteed for the eldest son (I'm not sure if this is what's happening with the Ferrars brothers in Sense and Sensibility or not). Am I understanding that correctly?

Thanks in advance. :)

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