In Their Own Words
May 22, 1733
Inheritance Policy Debated
As recorded by the Earl of Egmont in his journal of Trustee proceedings, much of this day’s meeting was devoted to debating the Tail [or Tale] Male policy, which if strictly enforced, would not permit female inheritance of the land grants in Georgia. Of all the raw materials the Trustees expected from Georgia, silk was probably the most important. Therefore, they had arranged to send a group of 40 Vaudois [Italian Protestants] who were skilled in silk production and agriculture to Georgia. However, the Vaudois refused to go once they learned that their wives and daughters would not be allowed to inherit their land. Of the seven Trustees present for today’s meeting, all but Egmont and Robert Hucks were willing to amend the Tail Male policy for the Vaudois. Egmont’s argument, however, was:
“Such alteration in favour of the Vaudois, would create un-easiness in the English and Saltsburgers [sic] who went over on the foot of Tale male only, and raise their jealouisie that more Should be indulged to the Italians than to them. That when this desire had been exprest on former occasions, we had opposed it upon just apprehension that the female might marry a Man who would not live on the land, wch. of course would remain uncultivated, and Men inhabitants who are the Strength of towns and Countries be lessen’d. That this once obtained, it would be followed by a liberty to Sell, which would make our Grants become a bubble in Exchange Ally. That it was unnecessary the Vaudois Should insist on it, Since we Should not refuse any particular female her desire when judged reasonable, and for the good of the Colony, but because Such application might Some times be hurtfull it was fit [we] Should re[tain] the power in our own hands. Mr. Chandler Said he doubted if our restraining females from Succeeding is good in law, being contrary to the law of England. To wch. we reply’d that Grants are a gift which may be qualified as agreed on between the Parties … .”
Source: Robert G. McPherson (ed.), The Journal of The Earl of Egmont: Abstract of the Trustees Proceedings for Establishing the Colony of Georgia: 1732-1738 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1962), pp. 50-51.