Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    Offspring; progeny. Legitimate offspring; children born in wedlock. Bell v. Phyn, 7 Ves. 458. The general rule is that "children," in a bequest or devise, means legitimate children. Under a devise or bequest to children, as a class, natural children are not included, unless the testator's intention to include them is manifest, either by express designation or necessary implication. Heater v. Van Auken, 14 N. J. Eq. 159 ; Gardner v. Heyer, 2 Paige (N. Y.) 11. In deeds, the word "children" signifies the immediate descendants of a person, in the ordinary sense of the word, as contradistinguished from issue; unless there be some accompanying expressions, evidencing that the word is used in an enlarged sense. Lewis, Perp. 196. In wills, where greater latitude of construction is allowed, in order to effect the obvious intention of the testator, the meaning of the word has sometimes been extended, so as to include grandchildren, and it has been held to be synonymous with issue. Lewis, Perp. 195, 196 ; 2 Crabb, Real Prop. pp. 38, 39, ยงยง 988, 989 ; 4 Kent, Comm. 345, 346, note.The word "heirs," in its nafural signification, is a word of limitation ; and it is presumed to be used in that sense, unless a contrary intention appear. But the term "children," in its natural sense. Is a word of purchase, and is to be taken to have been used as such, unless there are other expressions in the will showing that the testator intended to use it as a word of limitation only. Sanders, Matter of, 4 Paige (N. Y.) 293; Rogers v. Rogers, 3 Wend. (N. Y.) 503, 20 Am. Dec. 716. In the nainral and primary sense of the word "children," it Implies immediate offspring, and, ia its legal acceptation, is not a word of limitation, unless it is absolutely necessary so to construe it in order to give effect to the testator's intention. Echols v. Jordan, 39 Ala. 24. "Children" is ordinarily a word of description, limited to persons standing in the same relation, and has the same effect as if ali the names were given; hut heirs, in the absence of controlling or explanatory words, includes more remote descendants, and is to be applied per stirpes. Bal-com v. Haynes, 14 Alien (Mass.) 204.