« PreviousContinue »
days 6 hours, but in 365 days 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45 seconds, the solar year was shorter than the civil year by 11 min. 14 sec. which in the space of about 130 years amounted to a whole day. This inconvenience becoming in the course of time too considerable to be unnoticed, Pope Gregory XIII. after unsuccessful attempts by former Popes and councils, abrogated the ancient Calendar and substituted a new one called the Gregorian Calendar or new style. It was published in the month of March, A. D. 1582. Ten days which had been gained by the old reckoning were taken from the month of October of that year, and the equinox brought back to the 21st of March as it had been settled by the council of Nice, A. D. 325. And in order to prevent a recurrence of a similar variation, every succeeding hundredth year was not to be counted a leap year, except every four hundredth year which should as usual be considered as a bissextile. Thus by making the years 1700, 1800, and 1900, common years instead of leap years, the error arising from the odd time would be corrected. The new style was adopted in Spain, Portugal, and part of Italy, on the same day as at Rome; but it was not received in France until December, when the 10th was reckoned the 20th day, according to letters patent of Hen. III. In Great Britain such were the popular prejudices against it, that it was not easily admitted. However, as the inconvenience arising from the two modes of reckoning was much felt, an act of parliament in 1752 was obtained for this purpose. As 170 years had elapsed since the Gregorian alteration took place, the old style had consequently gained above a day more upon the course of the sun than it had when Gregory first promulged his alteration. It was therefore enacted that instead of cancelling 10 days, 11 should be left out of the month of September. On the 2d day of that month the old style ceased and the next instead of being the 3d was called the 14th. By the same act the beginning of the year was changed from the 25th of March to the first of January,
By an act of the assembly of Pennsylvania, 11th March, 1752, the act of parliament entitled "an act for regulating the commencement of the year, and for correcting the calendar now in use," was introduced, which provided, "that in and throughout all his majesty's dominions, &c. the supputation, according to which, the year, &c. beginneth on the 25th of March, should not be made use of from and after the last day of December, 1751, and that the first of January next following the said last day of December, should be reckoned, &c. to be the first day of the year 1752, and so on, from time to time, the first day of January in every year, which would happen in time to come should be reckoned the first day of the year; and that each new year should accordingly com mence and begin to be reckoned from the first day of every such month of January next, preceding the 25th day of March on which the year would, according to the supputation aforesaid have begun or commenced; and that all acts, deeds, &c. &c. &c. which should be made, &c. upon or after, &c. to bear date according to the new method of supputation, should be judged and taken as valid and effectual in law, as if according to the former supputation."
A provision is made in the same law relative to the calling the months first and second, &c. for the ease of the inhabitants of the then province, who scrupled to call the names of the months as they were commonly called March, &c.
It had excited no small alarm generally among the uninformed of the people, to talk of changing the date of the year, and many scrupled to reckon by what they call the new style. I have heard it said myself even in Pennsylvania, that they might change the style, but they could not change the seasons, for the winter would last just as long as it used to do, let them do what they would. It was even thought presumptuous to entertain such idea as the changing names of months, &c. It was considered to have its origin in some trick of the merchants on the continent, the Venitians in particular, for the sake of interest on accounts. I remember to have heard a learned Paisly weaver, as he thought himself, give this soluttion of the problem.
"The nature and degrees of kindred being thus, in some mea"sure explained, I shall next proceed to lay down a series of "rules, or canons of inheritance, according to which estates are "transmitted from the ancestor to the heir," &c. II Bl. Com.
Land in Pennsylvania, comes to the heir, or representa⚫tives under the statute of distribution, subject to the debts of him from whom the estate has descended; whereas at common law it was liable only to debt by obligation; and this where the ancestor had bound himself and his heirs. An obligation is by writing under seal; and differs from a simple contract debt, in which case in England the land could not be bound in the hand of the heir. "When a man binds himself and his heirs, by obligation to pay a certain sum at a day, and dies, it is at the election of the obligee to sue the heir, or the executors, or administrators of the obligor; and if so be that the executors have assets in their hands, yet the obligee may sue the heir if he will, because the obligor has bound as well his heir, as himself."* Hence the form of an obligation, I bind myself and my heirs; or I bind myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, which is unmeaning in Pennsylvania, where a man binding himself, makes his representatives liable, under every denomination, so far as he has left lands or personal property. This is as it ought to be, notwithstanding the wife's right must be affected by the principle. Lands in her own right cannot be taken for debt after the death of the husband, nor in his lifetime save so far as affects profits; nor after her death save so far as affects his right of tenant by the curtesy. But a man incurring debts for the mutual benefit of both, as it must be supposed to be, the law presuming a consideration received, it is reasonable that the wife's right of dower in lands not in her own right, should be holden liable. Nevertheless it is an inconsistency with this power in the husband to subject for debts, that he cannot alien the whole without the consent of the wife. It must be a voluntary act of her own, to convey
* For all the learning on this head, see 2 Plow. 439; and 3 Tuck. Bl. 418.
land in her own right or otherwise, so as to affect her own right of dower.
The liability of real estate for debts in Pennsylvania, depends upon laws agreed upon in England, and sundry acts of assembly of the colonial provience, directly establishing, or by implication recognizing this principle.
By the statutes of distribution in the case of intestates' estates, and particularly by that of the 19th April, 1794, great alterations have been made from the law of England. "Real estate shall be distributed to the lawful children of the intestate, such children always to inherit and enjoy as tenants in common in equal parts." This exclusive of the wife's right of dower in one third for and during her natural life. In case the person dying intestate shall leave several persons lawful issue in the direct line of lineal descent and all of equal degree to the person so dying intestate, the said estate exclusive of the right of dower in the widow, shall descend and be distributed to the several persons, as tenants in common in equal parts, however remote from the intestate, the common degree of consanguinity may be, in the same manner as if they were all daughters of the person so dying intestate: and in case the intestate shall leave lawful issue of different degrees of consanguinity to him, or her, the said estate shall descend to the lawful child, or children of the intestate, if either, or any of them shall be then living, and to the lawful issue of such of the children as shall be then dead, leaving lawful issue, as tenants in common, in equal parts, such share only as would have descended to his or their parent, if such parent had been then living; and each of the lawful children of the intestate always to inherit, and to receive such share as would have descended, and been distributed to him, or her, if all the children of the intestate who shall be then dead, leaving lawful issue, had been living, at the death of the intestate and if there be no child of the intestate living at the death of the intestate, and only a grand-child, or grandchildren who shall be then dead leaving lawful issue, then the real estate shall descend to such grand-child, or grandchildren of the intestate, and to the lawful issue of such of the
grand children of the intestate as shall be then dead, leaving issue as tenants in common, such issue always to inherit if one person, solely, and if several persons, as tenants in common, in equal parts, such share only as would have descended to his, her, or their parent, if such parent had been then living. And each of the grand-children of the person so dying intestate, who shall be living at the time of the death of the intestate, always to inherit and receive such share as would have descended, or been distributed to him, or her, if all the grand-children of the intestate who shall be then dead, leaving lawful issue, had been living at the time of the death of the intestate and the same law of inheritance and distribution, shall be observed in case of the death of the grand-children, and other descendants to the remotest degree."
The words distributed and distribution refers to the personal estate which takes the like course. The provisions are interwoven, and are the same, but having in mind only the variations from the law of England in the case of real estate, I have dropped in the act what refers to personal.
The 4th Sec. of the act respects the intestate leaving no widow; or leaving a widow, and no lawful issue. Sec. 5. the case where neither widow, nor lawful issue is left, but a father. Here the rule of the common law "shall not ascend," is departed from, and material alterations made. Sec. 6. respects the disposition of the estate after the death of the father, where it has so ascended. Sec. 7. provides where the mother shall inherit. Sec. 8. where there is no widow, nor issue, but a mother, and brother, and sister of their representatives. Sec. 9, treats of advancements to children. Sec. 10, of posthumous children. Sec. 11, where the half blood shall inherit. Sec. 12, where kindred in equal degree,
This act cannot be understood as having given a final blow to the feudal system, but it has gone a great way towards it. The law of entails must go before our law of the tenure of real estate can be, in all particulars, accommodated to a republican government.