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410   Life and Letters of Francis Gallon

evidence derived from breeders of stock. It is very possible that indifference on the part of young husbands to aging wives may have something to do with it." (p. 22.)

An important remark made by Galton is that while his table and the smoothed isogens give the mean percentile fertilities at each age of husband and wife, they fail to measure the degree of individual variation from this mean ; the nature of this variation, he remarks, could be found from the original observations with a moderate amount of work, and it would be of much interest to determine whether it varies in accordance with some definite law.

The second paper deals with a problem which Galton had special delight iu handling.. Nothing pleased him more than to dispel a current superstition by statistical criticism. We have already seen how he tested in this way the objective efficacy of prayer. In the present instance', with Mr Edgar Schuster's aid, he attacked the belief widely spread, especially among Roman Catholics, that Church property sequestrated at the time of the Reformation carried a curse with it; the effect of the curse was to extinguish the line of the owner by the death before inheritance of his sons, especially the eldest son. The phrase "Church property" is applied to estates which were in whole or part ecclesiastical previous to the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, and " Not Church property" to those that were not.

Survival of Eldest Sons.


Total number of Owners

Number who were Eldest Sons

Not Church property 459








51°7 °/o

Church property ...


Length of Tenures.

Mean Length

There is therefore no appreciable effect produced by the curse in either thwarting the inheritance of eldest sons, or in shortening the tenure of the ownership of Church property. It was found, however, that Church properties changed hands much more frequently than non-Church properties; transmissions by purchase were almost three times as frequent. Galton was inclined to ascribe this to the comparative unsuitability to modern require

Not Church property ... Church property ...

27.2 years 27.4 years

' "Sequestrated Church Property." Nature, Vol. LXXIX, p. 308, January 14, 1909.