The petitioners, sixteen residents of Albemarle County, request a revision of inheritance laws to protect widows. When a man marries, his wife's slaves immediately become his own. When he dies, however, "those very slaves do not revert to the widow as land would." She receives only a life estate in the slaves, meaning she cannot sell them except with the consent of "the reversioners"--the people to whom the slaves will revert at her death. Slaves are "in their nature personal estate, and the law declares them such in every case except that of Dower." The small value of slaves held for life "is evidenced by the fact that most widows die insolvent or nearly so." Dower slaves should be held in fee simple rather than in life estate. Petitioners ask that widows be given the children's reversion which is "worth little to the children at the time the dower is laid off." This would give the wife and widow "an interest in rearing the young negroes."
Result: Referred to committee for courts of justice.
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Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia