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Middletown Transcript
  • ‘Downton Abbey’ influences proposed changes in UK inheritance laws

  • The popular British drama "Downtown Abbey" is being cited as a direct influence for gender equality changes within inheritance laws in the UK.
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  • SALT LAKE CITY - The popular British drama "Downtown Abbey" is being cited as a direct influence for gender equality changes within inheritance laws in the UK. It's not often that a television drama can be directly linked to positive social change, but a new proposal could allow women to inherit a baronetcy title after 400 years of titles only being allowed to pass from father to son, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported. The "Equal Titles Bill," also known as "Downton Law," which is now being pushed through the House of Lords, originally included dukes, earls, viscounts and other titles in the gender equality bill, but it excluded baronetcies. The Telegraph reported that the creation of the "Equal Titles Bill" was influenced by a plotline in "Downtown Abbey" where the eldest daughter of a fictional earl goes through beau woes because she cannot inherit her father's property or title. But the original bill and the baronet addition were also influenced by many real life circumstances. The Telegraph reported that "Four baronets have succeeded in adding an amendment to a Bill making its way through the House of Lords that would let them pass their titles to their daughters." Sir Nicholas Stuart Taylor, Baronet, led the campaign for the change to the bill because he had two daughters and therefore no heir. If his baronetcy isn't inherited, it will become extinct. Stuart Taylor's daughter, Virginia Stuart Taylor told The Telegraph: "I don't mind if I am the first, the 10th, the 100th (baronetess), but I've been brought up the rest of my life - apart from those first years of disappointment of not being a boy - as completely equal to men." Lord Monson has a younger son to inherit his title, but he said that he would like his daughter, Isabella, 27, to inherit. "It is, in fact, really straightforward - there is only one issue here which is the issue of gender equality, no other issues should really be taken into account," Lord Monson told The Telegraph. The article said that out of 1,260 baronetcies in the UK, only four in Scotland can legally pass to females. In those cases the inheritance was explicitly allowed by the monarchy when the titles were first created. The most recent of its kind was created in 1628. Mary Macleod, Conservative Member of Parliament and former royal aide, who supports the proposed legislation, told the newspaper: "Anyone I spoke to about it felt incredulous that still, today, in this day and age, girls and boys and were not given equality of opportunity in terms of heredity peerages and estate."%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D134404%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E

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