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Hotch-Pot

HOTCH-POT, or HOTCH-POTCH (from Fr. hocher, to shake; used as early as 1292 as a law term, and from the 15th century in cookery for a sort of broth with many ingredients, and so used figuratively for any heterogeneous mixture) , in English law, the name given to a rule of equity whereby a person, interested along with others in a common fund, and having already received something in the same interest, is required to surrender what has been so acquired into the common fund, on pain of being excluded from the distribution. " It seemeth," says Littleton, " that this word hotch-pot is in English a pudding; for in a pudding is not commonly put one thing alone, but one thing with other things together." The following is an old example given in Coke on Littleton: " If a man seized of 30 acres of land in fee hath issue only two daughters, and he gives with one of them 10 acres in marriage to the man that marries her, and dies seized of the other 20; now she that is thus married, to gain her share of the rest of the land, must put her part given in marriage into hotch-pot; i.e. she must refuse to take the profits thereof, and cause her land to be so mingled with the other that an equal division of the whole may be made between her and her sister, as if none had been given to her; and thus for her 10 acres she shall have 15, or otherwise the sister will have the 20." In the common law this seems to have been the only instance in which the rule was applied, and the reason assigned for it is that, inasmuch as daughters succeeding to lands take together as coparceners and not by primogeniture, the policy of the law is that the land in such cases should be equally divided. The law of hotch-pot applies only to lands descending in fee-simple. The same principle is noticed by Blackstone as applying in the customs of York and London to personal property. It is also expressly enacted in the Statute of Distributions ( 5) that no child of the intestate, except his heir- atlaw, who shall have any estate in land by the settlement of the intestate, or who shall be advanced by the intestate in his lifetime by pecuniary portion equal to the distributive shares of the other children, shall participate with them in the surplus; but if the estate so given to such child by way of advancement be not equivalent to their shares, then such part of the surplus as will make it equal shall be allotted to him. It has been decided that this provision applies only to advancements by fathers, on the ground that the rule was founded on the custom of London, which never affected a widow's personal estate. The h'eir-at-law is not required to bring any land which he has by .descent or otherwise from the deceased into hotch-pot, but advancements made to him out of the personal property must be brought in. The same principle is to be found in the collatio bonorum of the Roman law: emancipated children, in order to share the inheritance of their father with the children unemancipated, were required to bring their property into the common fund. It is also found in the law of Scotland.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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