This case was about a father’s right to impose restrictions on his son’s inheritance under a marriage contract. James Dunlop, elder of Garnkirk, and his wife, Henrietta Maxwell, signed a marriage contract that settled the estate of Garnkirk on the two spouses and any heirs-male of their marriage. Dunlop and Maxwell’s eldest son, James Dunlop the younger, was a Glasgow merchant who contracted substantial debts, with James Sr. as a co-obligant. James Jr. eventually became insolvent and transferred his effects to Alexander Spiers, and others, as trustees for his creditors. The joint debts were purchased by friends of James Sr., including Thomas Dunlop. To secure these debts, James Sr. granted the friends a bond over his estate, and subsequently granted them a trust disposition. On September 17, 1764, James Sr. executed three additional deeds. First, he executed a bond providing a liferent to James Jr.; his wife, Mary Ritchie; and their children, provided that the liferent was an alimentary provision not subject to the son’s debts or to alienation. Second, he executed a provision for his younger children. And third, James Sr. executed a new deed empowering his trustees to sell his estate and apply the proceeds in the following order: (1) to the payment of James Sr.’s debts, (2) to the provision for his younger children, and (3) to the provision for James Jr. The pursuers, James Jr.’s trustees, sought to have these deeds set aside on the ground that the marriage contract barred the elder Dunlop from restricting his son’s inheritance. The defenders, James Sr.’s trustees, responded that a father had the right to provide for his other children and to shield the estate from being taken by creditors.

Published Reports

William Morison, The Decisions of the Court of Session (1811), pg. 13026
Sir David Dalyrymple of Hailes, Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session, from 1766 to 1791 (1826), pg. 806


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