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Primogeniture: she gets the pets and her brother gets the millions

Alison Jackson

Photographer, Alison Jackson, 61, lost out big time in her inheritance from her father and mother who died in 1992 and 2001 respectively. Her parents were wealthy. Because of the culture of primogeniture, she inherited a piano, the family dogs and horses while her brother inherited a multi-million-pound estate valued at £18m at today’s values.

Alison Jackson

Alison Jackson. Photo: The Telegraph.

Primogeniture is the concept among landed classes that wealth is passed down to the eldest son, in this instance is Julian, 63, her elder brother. There are no other siblings. Jackson said: “Sadly my family believed in primogeniture, so my brother inherited everything. I got a tiny amount, and some went on death duties. When I found out about the inheritance it was a massive, cruel, cold shock.”

Her parents wanted her to marry and obtain wealth that way but she remained single. She’s a very successful photographer and she’s not short of a bob or two. It is still apparently common among aristocratic and farming families to pass titles and assets to the eldest son. One benefit is to avoid dividing the land into small plots.

In the UK, the monarchy’s primogeniture rule was abolished in 2013, before the birth of Prince George. Jackson’s father was a landowner. He owned a fleet of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. We kept them in a heated garage. He inherited further wealth when his mother, Winifred, a member of the Hulbert family, died.

The family tree can be traced back to William the Conqueror. Jackson takes a philosophical view. She has seen the battles over inheritance played out in the newspapers during which a large chunk of the inheritance is eaten up in legal costs. She admires people who have made their money. She said: “I find people who have made their money to be exhilarating, entrepreneurial and full of ideas.”

It’s interesting that parents thought that she should receive the family dogs and horses. Perhaps she showed a great fondness for animals and therefore was the natural choice to inherit or perhaps they thought that women are more nurturing and as a result she would do a better job of looking after them.

Primogeniture-some more detail

This is the right of succession belonging to the firstborn child, especially the feudal rule by which the whole real estate of an intestate passes to the eldest son. “Intestate” means without a will. So the eldest son get everything under this rule.

In the UK, primogeniture was abolished in England in 1925 as the governing rule in the absence of a valid will. Nowadays an estate is shared equally between all children of the deceased.

The Internet tells me that primogeniture is currently practised in succession to the thrones of Monaco and Spain. Male-preference primogeniture can also occur which trumps the elder daughter. Jackson’s brother is older anyway at 63 so this example is not male-preference primogeniture.

Alison Jackson is a well-known photographer. Her photographs sell at very high prices I’m told. Her lookalike photographs have sent up the nobility such as purporting to show the Queen having breakfast in bed with her corgis.

My thanks to The Sunday Times today.

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