The phrase “daughtered out” is an interesting one because it combines concepts from genealogy and from sociology. The concept doesn’t have as big an impact today as it once did, mostly due to changes in how society views the importance of women.
What does “daughtered out” mean? It means “to expire due to having only females surviving the death of the last male in a line.” It can also refer to the passing along of a family surname or of heritable property in a patrilineal naming or inheritance system.
Daughtered out can happen if your father has no brothers and does not end up producing children. Your father’s sisters might have sons, but those sons would have a different surname than your father.
That surname would have daughtered out of your family line when your aunts got married and lost their “maiden name”. Of course, the same surname would (more than likely) continue on in someone else’s family. The surname doesn’t entirely disappear from the Earth due to “daughtering out” in one family line.
The other way that daughtering out occurs is if your father had children – but they were all girls. In addition, your father must have only sisters, or must have brothers who all failed to produce male children. All those daughters would lose their original surname when they got married.
A vivid example of daughtering out can be found in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet have five daughters – Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty. The Bennet’s have no sons. Their line has daughtered out.
At the start of the book, Mrs. Bennet is frantic to get all of her daughters married off. The reason is because only sons could inherit property. If Mr. Bennet were to die, she and all of her daughters would be at the mercy of whichever of Mr. Bennet’s male relatives inherited the home the Bennets were living in, the land it sat on, and everything inside it. Mrs. Bennet is trying to prevent herself, and all of her daughters, from becoming homeless.
Today, things have changed. Women have the same rights to inherit property as do their brothers. Women no longer are required to change their surname when they get married. As such, there is now a possibility that the surname of a man in Mr. Bennet’s situation would not technically experience daughtering out.
In today’s world, one (or all) of Mr. Bennet’s daughters could have decided to keep her surname after she got married. Her children could end up as Bennets instead of whatever surname the daughter’s spouse happened to have. In addition, Mr. Bennet’s daughters would not have to get married in order to avoid becoming homeless. Each daughter could rightfully inherit property and land from their father.
Image by simpleinsomnia on Flickr.
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