Sing a song of twelve pence
- From: "Peter W. Pesterhaus III" <binky9@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 28 Oct 2008 08:14:58 -0700 (PDT)
In his will made Aug. 24, 1694, Edward Dale inserted the following
“Item I give unto my daughter Elizabeth now wife of William Rogers
twelve pence in full of all claimes whatsoever.”
You’ll note that the qualifying language “against my estate” is
absent. In fact, it’s the only non-specific clause in Edward Dale’s
As it turns out, this clause is what’s known as “promissory
estoppel.” It stops, or terminates, a legal claim. The claim doesn’t
roll over to someone else.
It’s for personal property only. Real estate requires a quitclaim
deed, and is termed “proprietary estoppel.”
What makes “promissory estoppel” legally binding is the acceptance of
money by the person waiving the claim, no matter how small the sum.
It’s voluntary—when Edward Dale’s will went to probate, and his
daughter Elizabeth accepted the twelve pence, the bargain was sealed
and her claim terminated. Had she refused the twelve pence, she would
have retained her claim.
When Diana Skipwith married Edward Dale and Elizabeth Dale married
William Rogers, pre-nuptial agreements weren’t available to first time
brides. At that time, pre-nuptial agreements were only available to
widows wishing to protect the estates of their late husbands from the
predations of subsequent spouses.
A wife’s dower could only be relinquished as part of a transaction
initiated by her husband. If a wife refused to relinquish dower, and
the purchaser still agreed to the conveyance, it became the
purchaser’s responsibility to satisfy the wife’s dower claim. Most
purchasers wouldn't find that circumstance attractive.
The law is quite clear that the only legal claim a child had was
against an intestate estate of a parent. Since Edward Dale left a
will, it’s obvious this claim referred to an intestate estate of Diana
Dale, and this proves that Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers was the daughter of
Diana (Skipwith) Dale. Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers would not have been
the next of kin of her cousin, Sir William Skipwith.
The purpose of the clause was to prevent Diana Dale from forming an
estate composed of personal property purloined from property he had
bequeathed to others. The word “whatsoever” in the clause was
deliberately vague because Edward Dale didn’t know what his wife might
seize. Dale’s solution may not have been perfect, but it was better
than the strategy employed by his friend Col. William Ball (g-
grandfather of George Washington).
Though that appropriation would be a clear violation of the her “life
interest” in Edward Dale’s estate, it could take years to cycle
through the courts; this had in fact happened to Col. William Ball of
Lancaster Co.(d. 1680) and Thomas Ligon (d. ca. 1675) of Henrico Co.
The courts would eventually rule that widows couldn’t break their
“life interest,” but in the Ball case, one of the original legatees
died before getting his property back. The plaintiffs actually
abandoned some of their property to focus on a purloined slave, who
was far more valuable.
Edward Dale’s middle daughter Mary (Dale) Harrison Jones is known to
have had one proven child, Humphrey Jones Jr. Mary died ca. 1683, so
Humphrey would have had a stake in Diana Dale’s intestate estate had
he been her grandson. That Edward Dale didn’t obtain such a waiver
from Humphrey’s guardian proves that Mary Dale wasn’t Diana’s
daughter. As it is known Mary was younger than Katherine (Dale)
Carter, Katherine couldn’t have been Diana (Skipwith) Dale’s daughter
You’re not going to break this line, but by all means give it a go—
it’s how some of you get your jollies. The law is the law, and while
most of you haven’t seen this argument before, it’s the way it is.
You will search in vain for any other claim. By all means consult an
attorney or legal historian, and so that we’re not left in the dark,
please post your citation here.
- Re: Sing a song of twelve pence
- From: Renia
- Re: possible Skipwith maternity of Elizabeth (Dale) Rogers
- From: Nathaniel Taylor
- Re: Sing a song of twelve pence
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