Re: "Collateral Descendants" & "Direct Descendants"
- From: "M.Sjostrom" <qsj5@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 19:22:50 -0700 (PDT)
As to definition of the term "collateral descendant",
it seems very clear to me that the definition offered
by D.Spencer Hines, is one to which only fringe ones
I know of zero respectable sources where the term is
defined in that way. None at all. Literally, zero.
While there exists a number of established sources
which define collateral descendant as
a direct descendant of the subject's siblings (and
some sources accept even cousins and such, in addition
to siblings, as ancestor of "collateral descent").
The origin is obviously in inheritance law. Quite
often, lineal descent from a subject went extinct, or
lineal male-line descent did that. In which case,
succession to inheritance in right of lineal descent
from a sibling of that subject became crucial.
This of course is a relevant concept, and in use
precisely because it has been needed.
One may criticize that initiators of the term,
presumably lawyers of their era, chose conceptually
incorrect terms, and prefer for example "collateral
relative", as "collateral heir". The damage however
has long ago been done (were it deemed damaging...)
We cannot do anything effective to it.
I must opine in this case that readers do better if
they reject totally the definition offered, and
rappidly propounded, by D.Spencer Hines.
The D.S.Hines definition of "collateral descendant" is
in all likelihood not going to do anything good. On
the contrary, it will muddle the propplematic issue
yet worse, particularly if some really start to use
It will always be more difficult if one term has two
different meanings. In such a situation, nobody can be
certain what is really meant by the term, when it is
(Please think about the two often-seen meanings of the
Latin word 'nepos': grandson, and nephew. How much
easier would our work in medieval genealogies be, had
it ever had only one of those two meanings.)
I believe the D.S.Hines offer of definition here, will
cause similar kind of harm, if adopted.
Some points against any usefulness of the D.S.Hines
1. The word "descendant" has no substance, no
meaning, in any expression, if it does not answer to
question "whose descendant". The D.S.Hines definition
would have us to say that a pair of more or less
remote cousins would be "collateral descendants".
However, without adding "of A", or possibly "of each
other" (if the latter is what Hines is aiming at),
even the expression "they are cousins" is more
meaningful than to say "they are collateral
2. In cases where an exact relationship is not known
or bothered with, but two persons descend from the
same ancestor ('A'), there is no need to start call
them as "collateral descendants of A", because they
are and can be called as "relatives of each other,
both descending from A".
3. Like D.S.Hines, exceptionally perceptively from
him, points, it would be recommendable to be precise
about their exact relationship. However, such precise
kinship lineage is not always known. Thus, the
D.S.Hines preference (such as "first cousin once
removed") would work only in a situation where the
kinship is precisely enough known. But, in many
medieval documentation, we only get to know that a
pair of individuals were "consanguineous" with each
other. However, even in such a situation, there is no
need for "collateral descendant" to be taken into THAT
use, because the relationship is better expressed as
"relatives of each other", or "more or less remote
cousins", or, as the translation already reads:
"consanguineous with each other". Another term, fourth
at least, would not be needed the least for this one
purpose, and will be harmful in this meaning because
it already has a different meaning in lots of legal
and other texts.
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