Tanistry Law and Legal Definition

Tanistry is an ancient Irish land tenure wherein the land descended to the oldest and most worthy man of the blood and name of the deceased ancestor. It is an early Irish rule of succession in which the successor to a Celtic chief was chosen from among eligible males during the chief's lifetime. Gavelkind descent of lands in Ireland, existed as an incident to the custom of tanistry till the 5th year of James I. [Orndoff v. Turman, 29 Va. 200 (Va. 1830)].