It is true, as contended by the petitioners, that a devise to children does not include grandchildren (Lee v. Baird, 132 N. C., 755), *539and that when tbe devise is to survivors after a life estate, tbe time-usually adopted for determining wbo comes witbin tbe class is tbe death of tbe life tenant, and not tbe death of tbe testator (Bradshaw v. Stansberry, 164 N. C., 356), but these are not principles'of substantive law, but rules of interpretation, which should be resorted to to ascertain the intention of tbe testator, and not to defeat it. Crossley v. Leslie, 14 Anno Cases, 706.
It is also competent, in construing a will, “to consider tbe condition of tbe testator and bis family and all tbe attendant circumstances” (Ripley v. Armstrong, 159 N. C., 158), and tbe law favors a construction which gives to tbe devisee a vested interest as early as possible, and not a contingent interest, “to tbe end that property may be kept in tbe channels of commerce.” Dunn v. Hines, 164 N. C., 120.
Tbe law, also, if possible, adopts the just, natural, and reasonable rule of an equal distribution among children (40 Cyc., 1411), and if words are used in one part of the will in a certain sense, the same meaning is to be given to them when repeated in other parts of the will, unless a contrary intent appears. “It is a well-settled rule of testamentary construction that if it is apparent that in one use of a word or phrase a particular significance is attached thereto by the testator, the same meaning will be presumed to be intended in all other instances of the use by him of the same word or phrase.” Raskrow v. Jewell, Ann. Cases, 1914b, 64; Gibson v. Gibson, 49 N. C., 425; Lockhart v. Lockhart, 56 N. C., 205.
Applying these principles, we are of opinion that tbe term, “living-children,” includes all the children living at tbe death of tbe testator.
Tbe testator bad thirteen children, one of whom predeceased him, leaving children, and twelve of whom survived him.
There was some reason for excluding tbe one child and bis descendants from participation in tbe estate, because be bad married against the-wishes of tbe testator, but tbe other twelve stood upon equal terms, and tbe testator declares bis purpose to make “a just and equitable disposition” of bis property. But he did intend, if all died before tbe death of tbe life tenant, that be should be intestate as to bis whole estate, except as to tbe devise for life or widowhood, or, if all died except one, leaving children, that tbe sole survivor should take tbe whole estate.
To so hold would not only be inequitable in opposition to tbe declared purpose to make an equitable disposition of bis property, but it would also run counter to tbe presumption against intestacy, and still this is a necessary conclusion if tbe position of tbe petitioner can be maintained.
Tbe testator has, however, put tbe matter at rest by giving to “living children” a definite meaning, and has, as some of tbe authorities express it, become a dictionary for himself. He devised a part of bis property to bis wife for life, and tbe balance to bis living children.
*540Suppose there had been no life estate, and the devise had been of the whole estate to my “living children,” clearly the children living at the death of the testator would take, and if so, the part of the estate not devised to the wife for life would pass to the same person.
We have, then, in item 3 a devise of that part of the estate not given to his wife for life to his twelve children who survived him as “my living children,” and the same meaning must be given to the same language in item 4, as no contrary intent appears, because the testator has said what he means by “my living children.”
The reference to the expiration of the wife’s interest in the last item is simply intended to fix the time for the division of the land devised to her for life.