21. Estates tail are divided into:
(a) Estates in general tail, the donee being the only parent named.
(b) Estates in special tail, both parents being named.
22. Estates in general and special tail are further divided into:
(a) Estates in tail male, descending only to male heirs.
(b) Estates in tail female, descending only to female heirs.
Where the estate is limited simply to the heirs of the donee's body, without further particularity of description, the estate is an estate in general tail. In such case, any of the issue of the donee's body can inherit.6 The inheritance, however, may be restricted to the heirs of the body of the donee and another person named, as "to A. and his heirs begotten on the body of his wife, B."7 Or the limitation may be to two donees and the heirs of their two bodies. These cases, where both parents of the heirs who are to take are named, are called estates in special tail.8 Such limitations are valid if the persons named are husband and wife, or if there is a possibility of their becoming lawfully married,9 no matter how improbable it is that they ever will be.10 But, if the estate is given to a man and his heirs by a woman whom he cannot marry because she is within a prohibited degree of consanguinity, the limitation to the heirs is void, and the donee will take only a life estate, the reversion remaining in the donor.11 But a limitation in tail to two donees who are each married to other per sons is good, since they may become free, by reason of death or divorce, to marry each other.12 Whenever there can be no issue who can take the estate according to the form of the gift,-for example, because of the death of the wife named prior to the gift, -then the donee will take only a life estate.13 The inheritance of an estate in general or special tail may be further restricted to the males or females of the class of heirs designated. Examples of such estates are "to A. and the heirs male of his body,14 and" to A. and his heirs male on the body of his wife, B., begotten.15 Estates tail female are very rare. No one can inherit an estate in tail male who cannot trace his descent from the donee through males entirely. For this reason the son of a daughter of the donee cannot take the estate, because his mother could not have inherited. The same principle applies in estates tail female, so that only females and the female issue of females can take.16
5 See post, p. 282.
6 Co. Litt. §§ 14, 15; 2 Bl Comm. 113. 7 2 Bl Comm. 114. 8 Co. Litt § 16. 9 Co. Litt § 16.
10 But a contrary presumption may arise, as in ease of two donees who have already been married and divorced. Co. Litt 25b, note 2.