Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Question from Gill - Families of peers executed for treason

What would happen to the family of a peer after he has been executed for high treason, and all his property confiscated by the crown?
Would his wife still have her jointure?
What would happen to his children, if all of them are underage? I assume they won't become royal wards since they have nothing to inherit from their father, and their wardship wouldn't be profitable to anyone.


shtove said...

I think it varies.

Apart from killing the traitor, the most powerful option for the crown was to dangle the property in front of the noses of the heirs and make sure they became loyal.

Look at it from the crown's side - often the treason was incited by the people the traitor had influence over, so without someone to restore that influence there was a risk the people would go into rebellion. Usually that someone was the direct heir.

Legally the wife's property couldn't be touched, unless she was attainted as well. And the wards were often taken into wardship.

One example of restoration of property:


kb said...

Wards of peers of the realm, like property, reverted tot he crown to dispose of at will. The wardships could be bought, which included the right to arrange marriages, if the crown so granted.

Jointures were intended to be sacrosanct but frequently weren't. Women sometimes had to aggressively lobby for their jointures.

As the operating theory of land ownership was that land was held by the nobles in return for service to the crown, the idea of the land reverting to the crown makes perfect sense if the service nobles offered was treason.

Nobility could be restored. Take the case of Thomas West, 2nd baron De La Warre. The title had been under attainder after his father, William West, was convicted of treason in 1556 under Mary I. Although Elizabeth restored him in blood in 1563 the title was not fully restored in precedence until 1595 when Thomas inherited the title. It didn't hurt that Thomas was married to Anne Knollys, a first cousin once removed of the Queen.