As the subject is involved in a good deal of obscurity, it may be necessary, in order that the expediency of this mode of punishment may be understood, to state the nature of it a little more explicitly.
By a rule of positive law, founded on the most obvious dictate of utility, so obvious as to have been received with little variation over the whole world, a man is permitted to succeed in case of death to the property undisposed of by his next relation.
This general rule is, with a variety of caprice, with which the conceptions and expectations of the people can never keep pace, differently narrowed and modified by the different laws of various States. With us it is not in every instance that a man is permitted to succeed to his relation. And the misery produced by the unintelligible exceptions to the general provision of the law, is in all cases, in proportion to the strength of the expectation that is thus disappointed.
Forfeiture is more penal in its consequences than escheat. By both forfeiture and escheat, an individual and his descendants are made to lose their chance of coming to the estate of him, to whom they stood as next immediate descendants. But corruption of blood goes further. By corruption of blood, the party in question, and his descendants, are made to lose the chance they had of succeeding either to a remote ancestor, or to any collateral relation.
Offences by which the blood is said to be corrupted, are stiled, how different soever in their nature, by one common appellation, felonies.---Between my brother and me, the common ancestor is my father.---If then, my father commit a felony, the consequence is, I am prevented from succeeding not only to whatever real property was my father's, but to whatever was my brother's also, or that of any one descended from him: and this, because in making out my title to the property in question, in virtue of any relationship to my brother, I must reckon through my father, although my father (such is the provision made by the law) could not himself have taken it. Between my paternal uncle and me, the common ancestor is my grandfather. If then my father commit a felony, I lose the chance of succeeding, not only to whatever real property was his, but also to whatever was either my grandfather's or my uncle's. So also if my grandfather commit a felony, I lose the chance of succeeding not indeed to the property that was my father's, but however, to whatever was either my grandfather's, or my uncle's, or any descendant of my uncle's.RP Book 4 Section 5