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The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier: 18th Century Ages, Rights, and Responsibilities

The Settlement of the Appalachian Frontier

Sharing information, stories, and ideas for teaching students about the settlement of the Appalachian Frontier. Focusing on the little-known people and history of Southwestern Virginia, Northeast Tennessee, and Eastern Kentucky.

Location: Nickelsville, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

18th Century Ages, Rights, and Responsibilities

Always remember also, that ages and allowable actions were often within the discretion of the VA County judges and Colonial Council in order to cope with unusual conditions/situations. In addition, any legal incapacities, such as felony and poor farm convictions, determinations that one was a lunatic or imbecile, and women who were restricted by marriage often were considered differently.

At age 14 for males (age 12 for females) people could:
Select their own guardian
Be an apprentice to learn trades
Be tried and punished for crimes
Show property lines to processioners, if known
Sign contracts (though seldom done, because later renunciation was allowable)
Witness documents as to who/what was seen, said & heard
Give testimony in a court proceeding (after qualification)
Act as executor (but usually with an "of age" co-exec)
Bequeath personal property by will

At age 16 males:
Were tithable
Served as militiamen voluntarily or otherwise act as a processioner if church appointed
Assume possession of their real estate

At age 18 males:
Could be licensed to practice a trade/calling
At age 21 for men (18 for women), they could be married without consent of parent/guardian
Release a guardian from duties (automatic at marriage)
At age 21 for men (and usually women), they could:
Be eligible for public offices (usually)
Serve as jurors on grand, petit, or coroner's juries
Vote (unless there was a property requirement)
File and defend actions in court
Hold title to real estateDevise (transfer) real estate by will