Mordaunt Genealogy

Noys v Mordaunt (1706)

The decision in the case of Noys v Mordaunt in 1706 established in UK and US law the principle of the equitable doctrine of election in inheritance law.

This is difficult for non-legal brain like mine to get round but in non legal terms it means roughly that if a you accept your share under the terms of a will you can't contest anyone else's share.

John Everard, the father of Elizabeth Everard, later Elizabeth Mordaunt, had a number of properties. He held property at Stanhorn and Broom which were his own to do with as he liked. He held other land at Beeston that was part of a marriage settlement; it was settled on him for life and then on his wife's life if she outlive him, after which it was then to go to his sons, and if no sons, to his daughters.

He had no sons and so prepared a will in which his eldest daughter Margaret was bequeathed 800 and the property at Beeston. He left his second daughter, Mary, 1,300 and his own unencumbered property at Stanhorn and Broom on condition that she relinquish any claim on a share, under the marriage settlement, of the property at Beeston. But, as he was dying, his wife was expecting another child. If that child turned out to be a son, he was to inherit everything and the daughters get nothing. If it was another daughter (which it turned out to be - Elizabeth) she was to receive Margaret's 800 and half of Mary's inheritance (which does not seem very much like equal shares to my way of thinking!).

Mary died without issue and without having formally relinquished her claim under the old marriage settlement to a portion of the land at Beeston. Elizabeth, (I think a little greedily) claimed for herself Mary's half and then her share under the marriage settlement of Margaret's inheritance at Beeston.

The case was lost. Lord Keeper Cowper decided that where a man was disposing of his estate among his children and gave to one unencumbered lands and to the other property entailed or under a settlement, it was an implied condition that each party acquited the other.

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