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Mycroft Holmes

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5 hours ago, Arcadia said:

Wouldn't all of the siblings inherit, unless the parents left a will saying otherwise?


I'm certainly no expert, but judging by a few novels, British inheritance and real-estate law can be pretty archaic and convoluted by US standards.  You don't keep those lovely old estates intact by leaving them to half-a-dozen kids.  It appears that entailment (as in Pride and Prejudice) is still alive and well.

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On 11/29/2020 at 8:29 AM, Arcadia said:

Why? Wouldn't all of the siblings inherit, unless the parents left a will saying otherwise? That's how it works where I live, at any rate.

As Carol mentioned above . . .Entailment laws which are based entirely on primogeniture.  Ie. The firstborn son gets everything--title, estates and fortune.  If there are no sons to inherit, or they do not survive, the estates pass down the line to the nearest eligible male relative, no matter how distant, rather than to any female heirs.  That was the entire basis for Downton Abbey.  Matthew Crawley was a distant cousin three times removed, but he was male, so he trumped three daughters.  Things may have changed in the 21st century (though it's still alive and well for the royals) but this would have been the Victorian era.  The only way for younger siblings to benefit from the the family wealth was for their eldest brother to be a kind and generous person.  He could make provisions for them, but by law he had control of every single thing.  That's why marriage and securing one's heirs was a full-time occupation.

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49 minutes ago, Hikari said:

That was the entire basis for Downton Abbey.  Matthew Crawley was a distant cousin three times removed, but he was male, so he trumped three daughters. 

Same thing in Pride and Prejudice.  I've read reviews of P&P where people criticized the daughters for being "so hung up on getting married" -- but it wasn't marriage per se that they were so concerned about, it was their futures (and their widowed mother's).  Their father's creepy second cousin was (in his own mind) generous enough to offer marriage to the prettiest daughter, but she had enough self-respect to turn him down.

 

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I guess I sort of knew all that (about inheritances and such) but somehow didn't apply it to "our" Holmes boys.

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Here's the full quote (from "The Greek Interpreter"):

"My ancestors were country squires, who appear to have led much the same life as is natural to their class. But, none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist. Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms."

Judging by this, the "country squires" (i.e., landed gentry) in Holmes's family could have been any number of generations back.  In fact, Holmes's comment that they "appear to have led" a certain lifestyle implies that he never observed that lifestyle first hand.  For example, his grandfather may have been a younger son -- or his grandmother may have been a daughter, even the eldest -- who therefore did not inherit the family estate.    The boys would have heard the family stories, but they did not grow up in such a household, and apparently never even visited it -- meaning that chances are their parents didn't grow up in such a household either, because if they had then the boys would presumably remember visiting their grandparents' estate.

In any case, there was apparently no "need" for Sherlock and Mycroft to have an elder brother.

 

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