adoption & marriage: legal question

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Fri Nov 21 19:23:46 UTC 2003

I think that some version of a sonless man's marrying his daughter to a
man who came to live with him and would inherit as a son was practiced
in the Punjab before the British codified the family law of the
province, and in their attempt to respect native usage overlooked this
practice and confined inheritance to the natural male line exclusively.
One pernicious effect was to undermine the British attempt to control
female infanticide, since it removed a way a man might make sure his
lands went to his direct descendants (whether the quasi-adoptive son or
his grandchildren by him) rather than to his male kin.  A daughter could
no longer prolong his social identity into the future, and so was more
of a burden.  I seem to recall this in particular reference to the
settlements made for the canal colony land grants made for retired
soldiers.  Perhaps this will stimulate someone else's memory.   I have
paged Lalita Panigrahi's British Social Policy and Female Infanticide in
India to see if she discusses it.  I think some research much more
recent than this 1972 book has touched on it, though.


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Asian Division
Library of Congress
Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732
fax 202-707-1724
athr at
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library
of Congress.

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