The relation between genealogical and judicial truth

At the Rootstech 2016 conference, American genealogist James Ison made an interesting remark regarding direct and indirect genealogical evidence. Ison is currently Manager of Strategy and Planning at the Family History Library, an important genealogical research facility in Salt Lake City. The library is operated by FamilySearch, the genealogical arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ison earned a Master’s Degree from George Washington University. He is recognized as an authority in the field of genealogy. Ison stated:

Direct evidence is awesome. A birth certificate will list the name of parents. It’s direct evidence. It answers a question. A marriage license will say what the bride’s maiden name is. A baptismal record will say the dates and the places of birth—just exactly what we want.

(…)

Indirect evidence is like a puzzle piece. You can’t answer any particular question just based upon this piece of evidence. You have to fit it together.

In cases where only indirect evidence is available, the Genealogical Proof Standard is helpful in establishing credible research. The Standard is based on a book written by mrs Christine Rose; Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. It includes five essential steps for accurate research:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive research has been completed.
  2. Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.
  3. The evidence is reliable and has been skillfully correlated and interpreted.
  4. Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.
  5. The conclusion has been soundly reasoned and coherently written.
Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, original taken by Thomas Helsby in Santiago, January - February 1854

Sir Roger Charles Doughty Tichborne, original taken by Thomas Helsby in Santiago, January – February 1854

Applying the Genealogical Proof Standard does not guarantee that the truth will prevail, but it serves accountability and transparency. In my opinion genealogical proof resembles Lakatos views on the concept of truth. Lakatos’ suggested that in science, a scientific theory should be seen as a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques. These theories all share a common hard core, called a research programme. The question of whether a theory is true of false is replaced by the question of whether a research programme is progressive or degenerating. A progressive research programme is characterized by growth and prediction of novel facts and more precise predictions. In contrast, a degenerative program is marked by a lack of growth and does not lead to novel predictions that are later verified (Imre Lakatos, Philosophical papers. Vol I: The methodology of scientific research programmes. I. Science – Philosophy 2. Mathematics – Philosophy. I. Title 11.). Genealogical research can also contain some of these characteristics. After establishing the basic facts (often in the form of a family tree), theories regarding missing facts can be based on indirect evidence. To a certain extend, they can be characterized as a prediction for finding direct evidence (e.g. a marriage certificate). If, for example, someone has lived and worked in England for all his life, it can be predicted that he has married in England and research regarding his marriage should not start in South America. A genealogical progressive research programme elaborates on certain basic findings and develops theories (in the form of predictions) about the missing information.

In some cases, genealogical evidence is used in legal matters. Legal evidence has a totally different character, in particular when court rulings are given. In such cases a progressive research programme can hardly be determined. The case ends in a decision in a relatively short period of time.

Judicial evidence

The judicial process can be seen as a a kind of black box, within which information from all kinds of sources is processed according to defined rules of evidence in order to produce a new form of truth: the ‘judicial truth’. This type of truth becomes, to a certain extent, simply one more competing version of truth. Like other versions, it can be accepted, refuted, celebrated or simply ignored. This is illustrated in two cases where genealogical evidence was essential for establishing judicial truth. In the first case, the evidence is in particular based on witness statements, with some degree of technical evidence. In the second case, conclusive evidence is given by a DNA-test.

The Tichborne case

The Tichborne case was a well-known legal dispute in Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s. It concerned the claims by a man called Arthur Orton, later Thomas Castro, to be the missing heir to the Tichborne baronetcy. Orton failed to convince the courts, was convicted of perjury and served a long prison sentence.

Roger Charles Tichborne was born in Paris on 5 January 1829. He was raised mainly in France, although the Tichborne lands and fortune were based in Hampshire, England, where his uncle was the 8th baronet. As a result of his upbringing, Roger spoke English with a strong French accent.  At the age of 20, Roger joined the 6th Dragoon Guards in Dublin, but sold his commission three years later in 1852. In 1853, Roger’s father inherited the Tichborne baronetcy after the deaths of his two elder brothers. In the same year, Roger, now the heir to the Tichborne title and fortune, travelled to South America. In 1854, he boarded a ship, the Bella, bound for New York, but less than a week later, the Bella was lost at sea and Roger was declared dead in 1855. The Tichborne baronetcy was passed to Roger’s younger brother Alfred in 1862 when his father died. Alfred died only four years later, just months before the birth of his son, who inherited the title at birth in 1866.

Roger’s mother, Lady Henriette Tichborne, was devastated by the news of her son’s disappearance at sea. She remained hopeful that he had survived the shipwreck and sent out inquiries across the world as to his whereabouts. In November 1865, Australian solicitor William Gibbes sent Lady Tichborne a letter, informing her that a man, claiming to be her son, had contacted him. This man was a butcher from Wagga Wagga, calling himself Tom Castro. Although he was physically larger than Sir Roger, had lighter hair and spoke no French, these discrepancies did not bother Lady Tichborne, who had not seen her lost son for more than ten years.

After Lady Tichborne’s death in 1868, Orton was compelled to continue the pretence, as he needed the Tichborne inheritance to pay off his large debts. This led some of the Tichborne family to take him to court over his claim, beginning one of the most celebrated legal cases of the nineteenth century.

The first trial lasted almost a year, from 11 May 1871 to 5 March 1872. Tichborne v. Lushington was a civil trial to establish Orton’s claim to the Tichborne inheritance. Nearly one hundred people spoke in Orton’s defence, but the holes in his story soon became obvious, particularly his inability to speak French – Sir Roger’s childhood language.

Arthur Orton’s perjury trial, Regina v. Castro, began in 1873 and lasted over six months. This time a jury had to be convinced that Orton’s claim to be the lost Sir Roger Tichborne was false. Again, the evidence against Orton was damning, and in February 1874, he was convicted of two counts of perjury and sentenced to 14 years’ hard labour by Lord Chief Justice Sir Alexander Cockburn (source: State Library New South Wales).

An important issue was the degree of facial resemblance of Orton to the Tichborne family, which fact never has been fully explained. It may suggest that there was some kind of biological relation between Orton and the Tichborne family. In the University College London Galton Papers a document can be found, stating:

2225. [stamped in left margin]University College London Galton Papers 158/2M[end stamp] [underscore]MEMORANDUM We have had submitted to us, for Examination,[end underscore] enlarged authentic [italics]Photographs;[end italics] First, of Mr. Roger Tichborne, (date, 1854): Secondly, of the person claiming to be Sir Roger Tichborne, (date, 1874). [underscore]These Portraits have Geometrically Bisected[end underscore]: and the several divided sections we have ourselves affixed, interchanged, and transferred from one Portrait to another. [underscore]We are of Opinion that the Perfect Combination[end underscore] and Minute Correspondence of the several sections are [italics]bona fide[end italics] and unimpeachable, and fully justify the conclusion that [italics]one and the same person sat for each portrait.[end italics] Fredk. Snary, Photographer, [established, 1856] 26, Castle Street, Bristol. Louis Lowenthall, Photographer, [established, 1858] 14, N. Wine Street, Bristol. John Hayward, Print-Seller, [established, 1840] 1, Corn Street, Bristol. Frederick Bowden, Print-Seller, [established, 1850] 27, U. Arcade, Bristol. H. Gardiner, Ornamental Carver, [30 years] 28, Victoria Place, Clifton. T. Sherwood, Smith, Practical Surveyor and Land Agent [40 years] 30, Corn St. Bristol. [end]

The case however was finally solved by applying classic legal rules of evidence. There was no room for developing a research programme.

The Pringle of Stichill case

The law is a living construct. It develops with society, bringing new challenges and new opportunities into the courtroom. Currently, the law is changing rapidly as a result of the ongoing evolution of digital technology. In one specific field, that of evidence gathering for genealogical purposes, the Pringle of Stichill-case should be seen as a milestone case.

On 5 January 1683 Charles II granted the Baronetcy of Stichill (“the Baronetcy”) to Robert Pringle of Stichill “and the male heirs of his body”. The eighth baronet was Sir Norman Robert Pringle, who lived from 1871 to 1919. He married Florence Vaughan, who gave birth to Norman Hamilton Pringle (“Norman Hamilton”) and subsequently to two more sons, the first of which was Ronald Steuart Pringle (“Ronald Steuart”), who died in 1968. Norman Hamilton was enrolled without opposition as the ninth baronet. When he died in 1961 his son Sir Steuart Robert Pringle (“Sir Steuart”) was enrolled without opposition as the tenth baronet. Sir Steuart died in April 2013.

The two claimants in this matter are Sir Steuart’s son, Simon Robert Pringle (“Simon”), and Norman Murray Pringle (“Murray”), son of Ronald Steuart. Following Sir Steuart’s death, both Simon and Murray registered claims to succeed to the Baronetcy. Simon’s claim is made on the basis that, as Sir Steuart’s male heir, he is entitled to be enrolled as the 11th baronet. Murray, however, claims that Norman Hamilton was not the legitimate son of the eighth baronet and that accordingly the true ninth baronet was his late father, Ronald Steuart. Murray thus claims to be the true tenth baronet.

Murray’s claim relies upon DNA evidence obtained as part of “the Pringle Surname Project”. This was founded by Murray to determine the chieftainship of the clan Pringle, and the late Sir Steuart provided his DNA for the project. Expert opinion on the totality of the DNA evidence was that it provided “very strong support” for the view that the eighth baronet is grandfather to Murray but not Sir Steuart. Simon does not dispute the DNA evidence, but he raises four arguments as to why it should not be admitted on public policy grounds. By this reference the Board is required to advise Her Majesty as to (i) who is entitled to be entered on the Official Roll of the Baronetage as the Baronet of Pringle of Stichill and (ii) whether the DNA evidence should be admitted in order to determine the first question.

The Board finds that there is no legal ground for excluding the DNA evidence, which demonstrates to a high degree of probability that Norman Hamilton was not the son of the eighth baronet. The Board therefore concludes that (i) Simon is not the great grandson of the eighth baronet and is not the heir male of the first baronet; and (ii) Murray is the grandson of the eighth baronet and is, as the heir male of the first baronet, entitled to succeed to the Baronetcy (source: The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Privy Council Reference No 0079 of 2015).

Conclusions

The term ‘evidence’ is widely used in many different ways and in many different contexts. Genealogical evidence is often used for claims regarding the use of titles of nobility. Even when based on so-called ‘direct’ evidence, it is not certain whether these claims are true or not true, as the Pringle case shows. The concept of truth is the core of many philosophical discussions and it is my advice to be careful when claims of nobility or genealogy are either accepted, refuted, celebrated or simply ignored. In numerous cases regarding such claims, truth is no more and no less than a personal choice, often based on the assumption that written statements in official registers correspond with biological facts (see e.g. C.W. Delforterie, Liegen tegen de dominee: drie voorbeelden van het laten dopen van buitenechtelijke kinderen als zijnde tijdens een huwelijk verkregen / door C.W. Delforterie In: Liber Amicorum Jhr. Mr. C.C. van Valkenburg / [met een ten geleide van A. Snethlage en bijdr. van W.J. Kolff … et al.]. – ‘s-Gravenhage: Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, 1985. – P. 69-80: geneal. tab. Met lit. opg.). One thing is certain. Written statements cannot change biological/genealogical facts but such facts can change written statements.

Advice on buying manorial lordships

Introduction

A very interesting document is available on the internet, called “Manorial Lordships and Statutory Declaration. A Cautionary Description“. On the first page it reads:

The principal interest lies in the paradox he explains – that the much used Statutory Declaration proves not that a vendor owns a manorial lordship, but rather that he probably does not.

Numerous manorial lords rely on a statutory declaration for proving that their manorial title is genuine. Does this mean that most of them actually cannot prove the ownership of the manorial title?

Development

In the feudal system all legal and economic power belonged to the lord of the manor or king, who was supported economically from his land and from labour, goods, or coin from tenants under his authority.

In 1446 King Henry VI obtained parliamentary ratification of the many grants of land he had made to King's College of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Eton by a Consolidation Charter. The illumination of its opening letters, shown above, is a beautiful example of English 15th century art. In it the King kneels to offer his charter on the altar with the Cardinals, Bishops, Lords and Commons behind him.

In 1446 King Henry VI obtained parliamentary ratification of the many grants of land he had made to King’s College of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Eton by a Consolidation Charter. The illumination of its opening letters, shown above, is a beautiful example of English 15th century art. In it the King kneels to offer his charter on the altar with the Cardinals, Bishops, Lords and Commons behind him.

Feudal land tenure is the system by which land was held by tenants from their lords. Tenures were divided into free and unfree. Of the free tenures, the first was tenure in chivalry. The second form of free tenure was the spiritual tenure of bishops or monasteries. Their sole obligation was to pray for the souls of the granter and his heirs. In contrast to the free tenants, who’s services were always predetermined, the unfree tenure they were not. The unfree tenant never knew what he might be called to do for his lord. This uncertainty was later limited in a way that the tenant could not be ejected in breach of existing customs of the manor. The land was thus held according to the custom of the manor (written evidence from Dr Paul Stafford, Submission to the Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Manorial Rights). Court Rolls of the manor came to record the title of the tenants of the manor to their properties and the tenants were given a copy of the entry recording their title. A tenant who held land in this way was known as a copyholder (House of Commons Justice Committee, 2015).

The fundamental characteristic of the manorial system was economic. The peasants held land from the lord (French: seigneur) of an estate in return for fixed dues in kind, money, and services. An interesting question is that of the origin of the manorial organization; Roman or German origin. This question cannot be answered decisively because there is not sufficient evidence. Romanists state that during the decline of the Roman Empire, independent estates emerged. Germanists point to the likenesses of the manor to what can be seen as the ancient German system of landholding. It is now generally accepted that both German and Roman influences contributed to the development of the manorial system.

Manors were also judicial and administrative units with their own manorial courts, where lords were responsible for jurisprudence. Historically, landowners with significant holdings often retained ownership of any mines or minerals on the land even when it was sold on. In such cases they would own the land beneath the surface (known as ‘mines and minerals’) while another owner exercised the rights of the surface land. Landowners may also have specific rights relating to the surface of the land, for example, the rights to hunt, shoot or fish (written evidence from Christopher Jessel, author of “The Law of the Manor”, Submission to the Justice Select Committee Inquiry into Manorial Rights).

The manorial system was slowly replaced by money-based economies and other agricultural agreements. During the Tudor period many of the civil functions of the manor were removed. It led to a decline of the manorial system. Feudal tenures were formally abolished in 1660. In England, this led to the establishment of absolute property rights for big landowners, and to vociferous demands by Levellers (a political movement during the English Civil War; 1642–1651) and other radicals that copyholders — the majority of the peasantry — should receive equal security for their tenure. 

 

During the nineteenth century the holding of manor courts gradually came to an end, and in 1925 copyhold tenure formally ended in accordance with the Law of Property Acts, 1922 and 1924. Since then the holder was personally free and paid rent in lieu of services. The Manorial Documents Register was established in 1926 to record the location of documents and ensure that they could be traced if they were required for legal purposes. Some manorial courts continued to meet in the 20th century and technically courts can still meet, although they would have no real business to transact. Before the Land Registration Act 2002 it was possible for manors to be registered with HM Land Registry. Manorial incidents (the rights that a lord of the manor may exercise over other people’s land) lapsed on 12 October 2013 if they were not registered by then with HM Land Registry. Distinctive feudal remnants remain in the Isle of Man and in the Channel Islands (three distinct systems for Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney). The island of Sark was a remaining example of a feudal fief. Sark gave up being a feudal fife several years ago under EU pressure. Male primogeniture never applied to manorial or seignuer titles, as Sark has had a female Seignuer in its past. (see: Christine Alice Corcos, From Agnatic Succession to Absolute Primogeniture: The Shift to Equal Rights of Succession to Thrones and Titles in the Modern European Constitutional Monarchy, 2012 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1587, 2014).

Characteristics of Manorial Rights

Manorial rights are part of English property law (the law of acquisition, sharing and protection of valuable assets in England and Wales). As such they can be bought and sold as objects. Manorial Lordships can thus be transferred, conveyed or sold to other people. The lordship of the manor is simply the title by which the lord of the manor is known. In many cases the title may no longer have any land or rights attached to it. Because of its origin and lack of physical substance, it is known as an ‘incorporeal hereditament’. Incorporeal hereditament means ‘an interest having no physical existence’ (see: Walker vs Burton 2012, sub 47; UK Government, Practice guide 22, manors).

The brother of the late Princess Diana , Charles, Ninth Earl Spencer offered one of his many titles - that of Lord of Wimbledon - for sale at a public auction on June 26, 1996 as advertised in Financial Times on May 27, 1996:

The brother of the late Princess Diana , Charles, Ninth Earl Spencer offered one of his many titles – that of Lord of Wimbledon – for sale at a public auction on June 26, 1996 as advertised in Financial Times on May 27, 1996:

The Land Registry describes manorial rights as rights which were retained by lords of the manor when land became freehold. They can include rights to mines and some minerals, sporting rights such as hunting, shooting and fishing, and rights to hold fairs and markets. Manorial rights are “overriding rights” which may affect a property even if they had not previously been protected in the register maintained by the Land Registry.

Following the enactment of the 2002 Land Registration Act, which required manorial rights to be registered before 13 October 2013 if they were to be retained, more than 90,000 applications to enter a notice claiming manorial rights on properties in England and Wales had been made to the Land Registry prior to the deadline.

Lord of the Manor

Whoever owns the lordship of the manor is entitled to refer to themselves as lord of that manor, for example, Lord of the manor of Keswick (source: UK Government, Practice guide 22, manors). The right to use the term “Lord of the Manor of Keswick” should, in my opinion,  be seen as a legal custom right (to seek recognition that one is the owner of a specific manorial right) as it meets certain basic requirements in this respect (see e.g.: customary Law in Modern England, W. Jethro Brown, Columbia Law Review Vol. 5, No. 8 (Dec., 1905), pp. 571). The term can be seen as a synonym for ownership with a historical background. The term should not be seen as a titular dignity, but rather as a factual appellation, which – within the feudal social system – was used to describe the relationship between the Lord of the Manor in relation to his own tenants.

The vast majority of lordships belong to an individual or a trustee. A lordship might be held in a limited company, or a ‘corporation sole,’ such as the Lord Mayor and Corporation of the City of London, who are Lords of the King’s Manor, Southwark (source: Manorial Society of Great Britain, Advice on buying a manorial title).

Manorial lord and nobility

It is generally assumed that manorial titles are not titles of nobility. I tend to a more balanced view. In his book, The Constitutional History of England (Cambridge University Press, 1909 [1st Pub. 1908]), Professor F.W. Mailland notes:

Dark as is the early history of the manor, we can see that before the Conquest England is covered by what in all substantial points are manors, though the term manor is brought hither by the Normans. Furthermore, in the interests of peace and justice, the state insists that every landless man shall have a lord, who will produce him in court in case he be accused. Slowly the relation of man and lord extends itself, and everywhere it is connected with land. The king’s thanes then are coming to be the king’s military tenants in chief.

This description characterizes nobility. Shortly after the battle of Hastings in 1066, the invading Normans and their descendants replaced the Anglo-Saxons as the ruling class of England. William the Conqueror divided the land into manors which he gave to his Norman barons. The nobility of England were part of a single Norman culture and many had lands on both sides of the channel. Early Norman kings of England, as Dukes of Normandy, owed homage to the King of France for their land on the continent. The Norman barons were summoned by the king from time to time to a Royal Council where they would advise him. By the mid 13th century, these meetings would form the basis for the House of Lords (professor Marjorie Chibnall, The Normans).

Originally, only a noble could hold a manor (professor Marjorie Chibnall, The Normans).  Later, commoners could also own a manor. The current manorial lords may well be seen as a relic of the ancient Norman noble class.

Conclusions

It is essential to buy a manorial lordship from the legal owner. With Lordships, title is generally traced back 50 years or more (source: Manorial Society of Great Britain, Advice on buying a manorial title). Proof of ownership is sometimes found in family or estate documents like assents, probates, wills, mortgages and settlements. Statutory declarations (a written statement of fact that is signed in the presence of a solicitor) are another common way to prove legal ownership. In my opinion it is not correct to say that when a statutory declaration is used in combination with persuasive exhibits from secondary sources, the use of such a statutory declaration is rebutting evidence of the legal ownership of the manorial lordship. When ownership is disputed however, the presence of all deeds, correctly made up since 1189 is required. The absence of correct and complete sets of deeds requires Court approval to confirm ownership (Burton v Walker).

I therefore recommend to obtain a manorial title from a reputable company and consult a lawyer in advance.

Sources

  • Property Law Journal: 24 January 2011. Paul Stafford explains why those who hold a manorial title, or those who challenge it, must examine the foundations on which the particular title stands.
  • P. G. Vinogradoff, Villainage in England (1892, repr. 1968) and The Growth of the Manor (3d ed. 1920, repr. 1968)
  • N. S. B. Gras and E. C. Gras, The Economic and Social History of an English Village (1930, repr. 1969)
  • H. S. Bennett, Life on the English Manor (1937, repr. 1960)
  • M. Bloch, French Rural History (tr. 1966)
  • J. W. Thompson, Economic and Social History of the Middle Ages (2 vol., new ed. 1959) and Economic and Social History of Europe in the Later Middle Ages (new ed. 1960).
  • Britanica.com

Further reading

Links

Jurisprudence

  • A spectacular example of a dispute over manorial rights comes from the recent and widely reported case of Burton v Walker. There are four decisions in Burton v Walker: the preliminary issue and substantive hearings before Adjudicators to the Land Registry; an appeal to the Chancery Division and a second appeal to the Court of Appeal. The references are REF 2007/1124 (Mr Edward Cousins, 14 May 2009); REF 2007/1124 (Mr Simon Brilliant, 10 Dec 2010); [2012] EWHC 978 (Ch), [2012] All ER (D) 131 (Mr Jeremy Cousins QC); and EWCA [2013] Civ 1228 (Mummery LJ giving the only substantive judgement).
  • Baxendale v Instow Parish Council (1982) Ch 14
  • Crown Estate Commissioners v Roberts (2008) EWHC 1302. The defendant claimed ownership as Lord Marcher of St Davids of historical rights in foreshores in Pembrokeshire. The claimants sought removal of his cautions against first registration.
  • Delacherois v Delacherois (1864) 11 HLC 62
  • Corpus Christi College Oxford -v- Gloucestershire County Council CA ([1983] QB 360)
  • Doe d Clayton Bart. v Williams (1843) 11 M&W 803
  • Re Holliday (1922) 2 Ch 698
  • Merttens v Hill (1901) 1 Ch 842
  • Morris v Smith and Paget (1585) Cro. Eliz. 38
  • Rooke v Lord Kensington (1856) 2 K & J 753
  • Simpson v Attorney General (1904) AC 476

Line of succession to the former throne of Germany

Heraldic Ring of Kaiser Wilhelm II with Royal Crown, Coat of Arms of Hohenzollern and The Prussian Order of The Black Eagle

Heraldic Ring of Kaiser Wilhelm II with Royal Crown, Coat of Arms of Hohenzollern and The Prussian Order of The Black Eagle.

Introduction

The claims to the (combined) thrones of Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire are related to the Constitution of the German Empire (Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches) of 1871.  According to this constitution, the empire was a federally organised national state of 25 German states. The office of Bundespräsidium was held by the King of Prussia, who had the title of German Emperor.

The Wikipedia article about the line of succession of the former German throne reads:

The German Empire and Kingdom of Prussia were abolished in 1918. The current head of the former ruling House of Hohenzollern is Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia. The Law of Succession used is Agnatic Primogeniture.

The Telegraph of 26 December 2001  reads:

THE man (Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia) who has just won a legal victory to declare himself the head of Germany’s last ruling royal family says he is perfectly happy with life as a citizen of a republic.

Did the courts really rule in favour of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia as being head of Germany’s last ruling family?

German law of succession to the throne

Wilhelm of Prussia, ex-crown prince, with the participation of former emperor Wilhelm II, named his second son – Louis-Ferdinand prince of Prussia (d. 1994) – as first heir (Vorerb).  After his death his eldest son (unborn in 1938) was to be the next heir (Nacherb), or, should that son not survive Louis Ferdinand, in his stead his eldest male offspring; in the absence of male issue his eldest brother (or in his stead his sons).  The contract, however, made one exception to the rule on the succession of the next heir: any son or grandson of Louis-Ferdinand was ineligible to inherit if he were not the issue of a marriage made in accordance with the house laws of the house of Brandenburg-Prussia, or if he was in a marriage not in accordance with said laws (so called ineligibility clause).

Legal disputes

This clause led to several legal disputes.

Crown of William II, Hohenzollern Castle Collection (photo Wiki Commons)

Crown of William II, Hohenzollern Castle Collection (photo Wiki Commons)

The legal question, which was a question of civil or private law, was whether the designation was valid, and the exclusion of unequally-married or -born offspring was valid. The matter decided was not “headship of the house” but inheritance of a certain estate; indeed, the phrase “head of  house” or some equivalent has not been decided.  The issue was a contract which set up a specific rule of transmission.  The court decided that the clause which Wilhelm had created in his testament was valid, because of the right to dispose of one’s estate. If Wilhelm had decided to impose a religious requirement, or a height requirement, or to leave his estate to his his dog, the court might well have upheld it as well, because of the right to dispose of one’s estate without infringement of the personal rights of one’s offspring (see the important article of F. Velde, The Hohenzollern Succession Dispute, 1994-present).

The succession rules regarding the throne of Germany have ceased to exist when the Constitution of the German Reich (Die Verfassung des Deutschen Reiches), usually known as the Weimar Constitution (Weimarer Verfassung) came into effect. The constitution declared Germany to be a democratic parliamentary republic with a legislature elected under proportional representation and thus abolished the German empire. Therefore, the courts of the German Federal Republic have no jurisdiction regarding the headship of the House of Hohenzollern. In the mentioned cases, the courts therefore never ruled regarding the headship. The media have not quite understood the rulings.

Conclusions

Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia was the third in succession to the throne of the German Empire, after his father, German Crown Prince William and elder brother Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. The monarchy was abolished in 1918. When Louis Ferdinand’s older brother Prince Wilhelm renounced his succession rights to marry a non-royal from the lesser nobility in 1933, Louis Ferdinand took his place as the second in the line of succession to the German throne after the Crown Prince. Louis Ferdinand married the Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia in 1938. The couple had four sons and three daughter. Their sons are listed below:

1. Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (9 February 1939 – 29 September 2015). Sons:

  • (a) Philip Kirill Prinz von Preußen (born 23 April 1968).
  • (b) Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig Ferdinand Kirill (born 16 August 1979).
  • (c) Joachim Albrecht Bernhard Christian Ernst (born 26 June 1984).

2. Prince Michael of Prussia (22 March 1940 – 3 April 2014).

3. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (25 August 1944 – 11 July 1977). Son:

  • (a) Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia (born 10 June 1976 Bremen).

4. Prince Christian-Sigismund of Prussia (born 14 March 1946). Son:

  • (a) Prince Christian Ludwig Michael Friedrich Ferdinand of Prussia (born 16 May 1986).

Louis Ferdinand’s two eldest sons (1) and (2) both renounced their succession rights in order to marry commoners. His third son, and heir-apparent, Prince Louis Ferdinand died in 1977 during military manoeuvrers. It is generally accepted that his one-year-old grandson Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia (3a, son of Prince Louis Ferdinand) became the new heir-apparent to the Prussian and German Imperial throne. According to these lines, Georg Friedrich became the pretender to the thrones and Head of the Hohenzollern family upon Louis Ferdinand’s death in 1994.

Traditionally the Agnatic Primogeniture rules have been used to determine the succession of headship of the House of Hohenzollern. These rules do not have any legal binding since 1919. A “headship of the House of Hohenzollern” does not exist under German law. Renouncing the headship of a family or the claim to a non-existing entity (throne), therefore does not have any legal effect in Germany. The only legal fact that German law can determine is the fact that Philip Kirill Prinz von Preußen (1a) is the oldest living relative of the last German emperor. If the head of the House Hohenzollern is defined as the last living male relative according to German law, then Philip Kirill (1a) is head of the House Hohenzollern. If the head of the House Hohenzollern is defined as the man who is selected by some members of the family (holding a certain authority), then Georg Friedrich (3a) is head of the House. The choice of definition is a personal one, not a legal or historical one. Head of the House cannot mean a person who inherits or has a right of inheritance in the property of a family member following the latter’s death, since this can be anyone.

Lines of succession: the case of Faustin Soulouque, emperor of Haiti

soulouque-adelina2

Adélina Soulouque (b. c. 1795-after 1859), née Lévêque, was Empress Consort of Haiti from 1849 until 1859, as wife of Faustin I of Haiti.

The order or line of succession is the sequence of members of a royal family in the order in which they stand in line to the throne. The basis for the succession is often determined in the nation’s constitution. As a matter of personal interest, I have examined the line of succesion of the emperors of Haiti, starting with Faustin I.

Legal basis of the succession

The legal basis for the line of succession at the time that it was in force, was the Constitution of 20 September 1849.

The Constitution made the Imperial Dignity hereditary amongst the natural and legitimate direct descendants of Emperor Faustin I, by order of primogeniture and to the perpetual exclusion of females and their descendants. The Emperor could adopt the children or grandchildren of his brothers, and become members of his family from the date of adoption. Sons so adopted enjoyed the right of succession to the throne, immediately after the Emperor’s natural and legitimate sons (Les constitutions dHaiti, 1801-1885).
Art. 108. — La dignité impériale est héréditaire dans la descendance directe, naturelle et légitime, de Faustin Soulouque, de mâle en mâle, par ordre de progéniture, et à l’exclusion perpétuelle des femmes et de leur descendance.
Art, 109. — La personne de l’Empereur est inviolable et sacrée.
Art. 110. — L’Empereur Faustin Soulouque est proclamé sous le nom de Faustin 1er.
Art. 112. — L’Empereur pourra nommer son successeur, s’il n’a point d’héritier mâle et s’il n’a point de fils adoptif. Cette nomination devra être secrète et enfermée dans une cassette déposée au palais impérial de la capitale.
(…)
Art. 115.— A défaut d’adoption et de nomination par l’empereur, le grand conseil de l’Empire nomme son successeur. Jusqu’au moment où l’élection du nouvel empereur est consommée, le grand conseil exerce le pouvoir exécutif.
Art. 134. — Les princes et les princesses de la famille impériale ne peuvent se marier sans l’autorisation de l’Empereur.
Art. 135. — Les enfants mâles deviennent membres à vie du Sénat lorsqu’ils ont atteint l’âge de 18 ans.
Art. 145. — Il est institué un grand conseil de l’Empire, composé de neuf grands dignitaires choisis par l’Empereur. L’Empereur préside le grand conseil ou en délègue le pouvoir à un de ses membres.
Art. 146. — Les attributions du grand conseil sont :
1° D’exercer l’autorité exécutive dans le cas où il y aurait empêchement pour l’Empereur de l’exercer lui-même;
2° De nommer le successeur de l’Empereur et d’exercer le pouvoir exécutif dans les cas prévus par l’article 115;
3° D’élire le régent dans le cas de l’article 141 ;
4° D’être le conseil de la régence ;
5° De procéder à l’ouverture de la cassette qui renfermera le nom du successeur de l’Empereur, conformément à l’article 112.
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Sword with Scabbard of Faustin I (1782–1867), Emperor of Haiti. Inscription: Inscribed on the guard beneath the crowned coat of arms of Haiti: DIEU MA PATRIE ET MON EPEE LIBERTE INDEPENDENCE; on the obverse of the blade: HOMMAGE DU G•O•D’ HAITI; on the reverse of the blade: A L.’ ILL. FAUSTIN SOULOUQUE EMPEREUR D’ HAITI (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Genealogy

In order to see how the line of succession has developed, I have tried to make a fragment of the genealogy of the imperial family.

I. Marie-Catherine Soulouque. b. at Port-au-Prince, Saint-Domingue, 1744. A slave of the Mandingo race. She d. at Port-au-Prince, 9 August 1819.

IIa. H.I.M. Faustin-Élie Soulouque (Faustin I), by the grace of God , and the Constitution of the Empire, Emperor of Haiti. b. at Petit-Goâve, 1782. Freed by Felicite Sonthonax 29 August 1793. Fought in the War of independence as a private soldier 1803-1804, Cmsnd. as Lieut. and ADC to General Lamarre 1806, Lieut. Horse Guards under Presdt. Petion 1810, prom. Capt., prom. Maj. under Presdt. Rivière-Hérard, prom. Col. under Presdt. Guerier 1843, prom. Brig-Gen. and later Lt-Gen. and supreme commander of the guards under Presdt. Riche. Became President of the Republic of Haiti (*1) and took the oath of office 2 March 1847.

Crown Soulouque

Crown of Faustin-Élie Soulouque, decorated with emeralds, diamands, garnets, and other jewels. It had been exhibited in the Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (MUPANAH)

Proclaimed as Emperor Faustin I, by the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, and assumed the style of His Imperial Majesty, 26 August 1849. Crowned at Port-au-Prince, by the Abbe Cessens according to Episcopalian (Franc-Catholique) rites, 18 April 1852. Attempted to conquer, but failed to take, Santo Domingo in 1856. Founded the Military Order of St Faustin and the Civil Haitian Order of the Legion of Honour, 21st September 1849. Also founded the Orders of St Mary Magdalen and St Anne, 31 March 1856. Deposed 15 January 1859.

Founded the Imperial Academy of Arts in 1856. Fled to the French legation, seeking asylum, but was later taken into exile in Jamaica, aboard a British warship 22 January 1859 (1). Married at Port-au-Prince, December 1849, H.I.M. Empress Adélina (b. ca. 1795), raised to the title of Empress of Haiti with the style of Her Imperial Majesty 26th August 1849, Crowned with her husband at Port-au-Prince 18th April 1852, daughter of Marie Michel Lévêque. After the death of her husband, Adélina fled to the Dominican Republic and then went to Spain, where she was received by the King of Spain himself. She remained at the Royal Palace of Spain in Madrid from 1868 to 1874.

Adélina then left for France and remained there from 1875 to 1877. She ended her days in Rome, Italy in 1879, until her death at the age of about 84 years. She was buried first in Rome near the Vatican and then in Haiti near her husband in 1907, 28 years after his death (*2).

Daughter:
1) H.I.H. Princess Célita Soulouque, m. Jean-Philippe Lubin, Count of Petionville, who was very rich. Together they had four children: three daughters and a son who died at birth.
Adopted daughter:
2) H.S.H. Princess Geneviève Olive [Madame]. b. 1842 (quinze à seize ans in September 1858), d. 1936. Adopted by Emperor Faustin, raised to the title of Princess and granted the style of Her Serene Highness 1850. m. Amitié Lubin (b. ca. 1800), son of Jean Philippe Vil Lubin, Count de Pétion-Ville, by his wife, Elizabeth Ulcénie, née Amitié (*3). Princess Olive travelled around the world: France (1893-1894); Portugal (1894-1899) with her daughter Marie; Canada 1901; America (Philadelphia) (1902-1913); Dominican Republic (1913-1914); France (1914-1918); Dominican Republic (1918-1923); Thailand (1923-1927) as a guest of a friend of the Royal Family; Australia (1927-1929); Haiti 1929-1936) (*4) [Oliva Soulouque, Biografia].

Prince Mainville Joseph and Prince Jean Joseph Soulouque

Prince Mainville Joseph and Prince Jean Joseph Soulouque

IIb. (Prince) Jean-Joseph Soulouque. He d. after 1850, having had issue, eleven sons and daughters, including:
1. H.I.M. (Prince) Mainville-Joseph Soulouque, pretender under the name Joseph I, m. 1854 with Princess Olive (IIa,2). He did participate in some attempts to restore the monarchy in Haiti, without success and d. in 1891. Children:

a. “S.A.S. la princesse” Maria Soulouque, d. Portugal 1899.
b. H.I.M. (Prince) Joseph Soulouque, “prince impérial”, pretender to the throne as Joseph II, left for France with his mother in 1914, fought for the Allies in WWI, returned to the Dominican Republic in 1918 and lived there until his death on 18 June 1922. In 1930 Princess Geneviève Olive received a letter from the new pretender to the throne, her great grandson of 31 years told her that his wife was pregnant. Their names are unknown to me.
c. “S.A.S. le prince” Faustin-Joseph Soulouque, lived in the United States (Philadelphia) until his death in 1913.
d. Marie Adelina Soulouque, daughter of Mainville-Joseph Soulouque with Marie d’Albert. Daughter: Marie Adelina Soulouque, who married Johan Carl Sictus Weijgel Quast (*1), pharmacist [Santa Domingo].

Son?

De Curaçaosche courant 24-07-1852 delpher.nl

De Curaçaosche Courant 24-07-1852 delpher.nl

H.I.H. Princess Célita Soulouque is said to have been the only daughter of Faustin. It has been reported in the Curacaosche Courant of 24 July 1852 that Faustin made preparations for his son “Bobo” to marry the actress Lola Montez. In 1846, the actress arrived in Munich, where she was discovered by and became the mistress of, Ludwig I of Bavaria. Ludwig made her Countess of Landsfeld on his birthday, 25 August 1847. Along with her title, he granted her a large annuity. In 1848 Ludwig abdicated, and Montez fled Bavaria, her career as a power behind the throne at an end. From 1851 to 1853, Lola Montez performed as a dancer and actress in the eastern United States, one of her offerings being a play called Lola Montez in Bavaria.

Interesting comments by mr Christopher Buyers (FB 27 January 2016):

Bobo was actually an escaped galley-slave who had been “candidate” for president several times, but was persuaded to join Soulouque’s cause. After the latter became Emperor, Bobo was ennobled and created a Prince. In April 1851, while serving as Governor and C-in-C of the Northern Province, he was suspected of rebellion and summoned to court. Fearing a certain death, he fled. Later captured and executed along with some other generals the following year. He is mentioned by Helen O’Donnell Holdredge in her biography “The Woman in Black: The Life of Lola Montez”, Putnam, 1955. There, he is described on p 141 as Grand Chamberlain to Faustin I, sent by him to persuade Lola Montez to visit his court in Haiti. Prince Bobo had a son named Alexandre, who was in turn the father of Dr Pierre François Joseph Benoit Bobo aka “Rosalvo”, who was a leading politician, Secretary of State for the Interior, and leader of the revolution which toppled President Sam II in 1915, prompting the US to intervene and occupy Haiti to prevent him becoming president.

Sources

(*1) Website of Chistopher Buyers

(*2) ayudamosconocer.com

(*3) Roman Catholic Church Kingston (Jamaica) Marriages 1839-1869. Act of marriage: Pierre Joseph Amitie Vil Lubin, native of Haiti, lawful son of His Lordship Earl Philippe Vil Lubin and by his wife, Elizabeth Ulcénie. Lord Amitie Vil Lubin, maried on 26 December 1861 HSH Princess Geneviève Olive Soulouque, native of Haiti, lawful daughter of Emperor Faustin Elie Soulouque and Empress Adélina Lévêque. Witnesses: Alexandre Bravo, Charles Grant, widow Lubin, Amitie Lubin, widow of Louis Lubin, Elizabeth Grant, James Male, Jean Baptiste Vil Lubin, George Clermont, A.M. Lhoste, Felicite Faustin, Ameisima Amitie, Elina Mainvaille, L. Bedonet, Elizabeth Bourke, Caroline Crosswell. Source: website of Thierry Jean-Baptiste Soulouque Vil Lubin.

(*4) ayudamosconocer.com

(*5) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Pedigree Resource File,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/2:2:9HXC-TTG : accessed 2015-11-14), submitted by rcsimon2749685.

Literature

  • Alaux. Soulouque and His Empire: From the French of Gustave d’Alaux. 1861. Reprint. London: Forgotten Books, 2013. Print.      
  • Facebook Almanach Royal d’Hayti
  • Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century, The Americas. Multi-volumed work Constitutions of the World from the late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century Sources on the Rise of Modern Constitutionalism / Quellen zur Herausbildung des modernen Konstitutionalismus.  Ed. by Dippel, Horst The Americas Vol. 10 Constitutional Documents of Haiti 1790–1860 / Documents constitutionnels d’Haïti 1790-1860 / Verfassungsdokumente Haitis 1790-1860  Ed. by Dubois, Laurent / Gaffield, Julia / Acacia, Michel
  • Hartog, [dr.] Johan Curaçao; From Colonial dependence to autonomy. Oranjestad, Aruba: De Wit publishers 1968 (Faustin’s exile on the island of Curaçao)

Discovery (1)

Proof that Soulouque was a free masonI recently discovered that Faustin I was a member of a Masonic lodge in France. This was in tradition with other Haitian leaders. In 1743, after the death of Louis de Pardaillan de Gondrin , duke of Antin, Louis de Bourbon-Condé (1709-1771), count of Clermont, prince of the blood and future member of the Académie française, succeeded him as “Grand Master of all regular lodges in France”. He remained in office until his death in 1771. Around 1744 there were around 20 lodges in Paris and 20 in the provinces. Lodges in the provinces were most often founded by Masons out of Paris on business or via the intermediary of military lodges in regiments passing through a region – where a regiment with a military lodge left its winter quarters, it was common for it to leave behind the embryo of a new civil lodge there. The many expressions of military origin still used in Masonic banquets of today date to this time, such as the famous “canon” (cannon, meaning a glass) or “poudre forte” (strong gunpowder, meaning the wine). 

Discovery (2)

Imperial and Military Order of St Faustin

Imperial and Military Order of St Faustin

In France, only decorations recognised by the Chancery of the Legion of Honour may be worn publicly, and permission must be sought and granted to wear any foreign awards or decorations. Failure to comply is punishable by law. A non-exhaustive list of collectively authorised orders is published by the French government. According to a report in Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, XI, jan-jun-1859, pp. 150-152), the Order of Saint Faustin seems to have been recognized by the Legion of Honour. Further research is being conducted.