Illegitimacy (re Succession)

Illegitimacy (re Succession)

Background to the Law regarding Custom

The Statute of Merton (1235) declared “he is a bastard that is born before the marriage of his parents”. Even when the parents could not marry or if both were separately married or when the relationship was incestuous.

The Poor Law of 1576 accentuated* this law in its dealings. *An illegitimate person cannot inherit ‘real property’.

The 1976 Legitimacy Act states (apart from Section 1) that nothing in this Act shall affect the succession to any dignity or title. Section 1 refers to Void marriages re incest etc.

The Family Reform Act 1987 removed all legal distinctions between children born to married or unmarried parents. Regarding claims for freedom of a borough, there can be few or no reasons for objection – particularly, following the L.D.E.D & C (Democracy) Act 2009, to not allow admissions.

The Equality Act 2010 protects an individual from discrimination against unfair treatment.


The Family Law Reform Act 1987 gives rights to children (blood relations) when parents die intestate. The earlier Family Law Reform Act recognises property of a stepchild or an illegitimate child. I think the Equality Act deals with biological successional inheritance as it makes the point that there should be no distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children when it comes to the inheritance of an intestate property. The 2009 Democracy Act relaxes the law over entries into Freedom.

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