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DESCENT Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

Hereditary succession. Succession to the ownership of an estate by inheritance,or by any act of law, as distinguished from “purchase.” Title by descent is thetitle by which one person, upon the death of another, acquires the real estate of thelatter as his heir at law. 2 Bl. Comm. 201; Com. Dig. “Descent” A; Adams v. Akerlund,168 111. 632, 48 N. E. 454; Starr v. Hamilton, 22 Fed. Cas. 1,107; In re Donahue’sEstate, 36 Cal. 332; Shippen v. Izard, 1 Serg. & R. (Pa.) 224; Brower v. Hunt, 18 OhioSt. 338; Allen v. Bland, 134 Ind. 78, 33 N. E. 774.Classification. Descents are of two sorts, lineal and collateral. Lineal descent isdescent in a direct or right line, as from father or grandfather to son or grandson.Collateral descent is descent in a collateral or oblique line, that is, up to the commonancestor and then down from him, as from brother to brother, or between cousins.Levy v. McCartee, 6 Pet. 112, 8 L. Ed. 334. They are also distinguished into mediateand immediate descents. But these terms are used in different senses. A descent maybe said to be a mediate or immediate descent of the estate or right; or it may be said tobe mediate or immediate, in regard to the mediateness or immediateness of thepedigree or consanguinity. Thus, a descent from the grandfather, who dies inpossession, to the grandchild, the father being then dead, or from the uncle to thenephew, the brother being dead, is, in the for mer sense, in law, immediate descent,although the one is collateral and the other lineal; for the heir is in the per, and not inthe per and cui. On the other hand, with reference to the line of pedigree orconsanguinity, a descent is often said to be immediate, when the ancestor from whomthe party derives his blood is immediate, and without any intervening link or degrees;and mediate, when the kindred is derived from him mcdiante altero, another ancestorintervening between them. Thus a descent in lineals from father to son is in this senseimmediate ; but a descent from grandfather to grandson, the father being dead, orfrom uncle to nephew, the brother being dead, is deemed mediate; the father and thebrother being, in these latter cases, the medium dcfei-cns. as it is called, of the descentor consanguinity. Levy v. McCartee, 6 Pet. 112, 8 L. Ed. 334; Furenes v. Mickelson, 86Iowa. 508, 53 N. W. 416; Garner v. Wood, 71 Md. 37, 17 Atl. 1031.Descent was denoted, in the Roman law, by the term “successio,” which is also usedby Bracton, and from which has been derived the succession of the Scotch and Frenchjurisprudence.


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