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The status of being the firstborn child among several children of the same parents. A rule of inheritance at Common Law through which the oldest male child has the right to succeed to the estate of an ancestor to the exclusion of younger siblings, both male and female, as well as other relatives.


n. Latin for "first born," the ancient rule from feudal England (except in the County of Kent) that the oldest son would inherit the entire estate of his parents (or nearest ancestor), and, if there was no male heir, the daughters would take (receive the property) in equal shares. The intent was to preserve larger properties from being broken up into small holdings, which might weaken the power of nobles. It does not exist in the United States.

See: birthright


being first-born. Many legal systems have from time to time and place to place given precedence to the first-born in inheritance. It has the benefit of preserving large hard-won estates. It is not popular with the other children. Concentration of wealth in money as opposed to land has made it much less useful. It no longer applies to ordinary property in the UK.

PRIMOGENITURE. The state of being first born the eldest.
     2. Formerly primogeniture gave a title in cases of descent to the oldest son in preference to the other children; this unjust distinction has been generally abolished in the United States.

References in periodicals archive ?
When it comes to customary law and its impact on women in the South African constitutional democracy, the country comes from a legacy of traditional leadership deeply embedded in patriarchy, where the principle of male primogeniture determines power, authority, and benefits in all facets of life.
Male primogeniture unfairly discriminates against women and places them in a position of subservience and subordination.
Third, the emphasis on unbroken patrilineal transmission of the story forms an obvious parallel with its political theme--the specious rationale of male primogeniture in founding state legitimacy, exposed in Henry VIII's role as instigator of the English Reformation.
The male primogeniture rule is offensive, but so is the rules relating to the religious faith or non religious faith of the head of state.
12) The re-introduction of Roman Law led to the formulation of the so-called Lei Mental, (13) which established male primogeniture for the succession of crown goods, and to the elevation of common law as subsidiary law under Dom Afonso V (1447).
6) Significantly, the hereditary process is fundamentally male primogeniture and, by its nature, therefore excludes women.
The legislation will end the principle of male primogeniture so that William and Kate's first baby will succeed to the throne, regardless of whether it is a girl or a boy.
The change to the rule of male primogeniture came into effect from the point of the Perth conference last year, so even if we had not secured all the necessary legislative changes in all the realms, we would none the less be able to proceed on the basis that the outdated rule of male primogeniture no longer prevails," he said.
Currently the principle of male primogeniture means that the first born son would be next in line to the throne, even if he had an older sister.