Saturday, May 02, 2009

Question from Jacquie - Orphans

If a child of noble or gentry rank was orphaned, what would happen to him or her in Tudor times?

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

If a child of a family of wealth and property became orphaned, i.e. both mother and father died, he or she usually became a ward of some other adult. That adult might be a relative outside the immediate family, or it might be a non-relative. The adult assuming the wardship paid the Crown a fee for the privilege but also gained control over the young ward's property. The holder of the wardship could therefore live a more posh life using the additional income. Once the ward reached his or her majority, he or she gained full control over the estates. But many female wards ended up becoming wives of the man holding their wardship, as for example with Katherine Willoughby and Charles Brandon.

A minor male child whose father died but whose mother remained alive might also find himself a ward of someone else, as did Henry Grey when his father Thomas died. Widows with male children were often barred from managing the estates of their deceased husbands, though there were also exceptions.