Assize of mort d'ancestor

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In English law, the assize of mort d'ancestor ("death of ancestor") was an action brought where a plaintiff claimed the defendant had entered upon a freehold belonging to the plaintiff following the death of one of his relatives.

It was one of the so-called "petty assizes" established by the Assize of Clarendon by Henry II in 1166 along with the Assize of Northampton (1176)[1]]. Like the other two assizes, it was abolished in 1833.[2]

Two early instances of such an action are recorded in feet of fine from the reign of King John for a family dispute between members of the de Brantingham family in Yorkshire in 1202.[3][4] On 22 August 1202, one Matilda (or Maud), daughter of John de Brantingham, brought an action under the assize of mort d'ancestor against her sisters, Mary and Alice de Brantingham.[3] Less than four months later, on 1 December 1202, John de Brantingham, son of Haldane the Deacon (and not to be confused with the later John de Brantingham, a Yorkshire clergyman), brought a similar action against his three daughters.[4]

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  1. ^ An introduction to English Legal History, J.H. Baker 4th edition Oxford University press, p 234
  2. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  3. ^ a b The Surtees Society: 48
  4. ^ a b The Surtees Society: 76


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