[LMB] OT: Social structures, was Build your own Emperor

M R Dolbear fm little.egret at dolbear.fastmail.fm
Fri Sep 29 00:02:27 BST 2017

On Thu, 28 Sep 2017, at 22:53, Carol Botteron wrote:

> One of my favorite ancestors was Dionis Stevens Coffin (1610 England -
> 1676
> Nantucket, Mass.)  She and her husband Tristram Coffin ran a tavern in
> Newbury, Mass., and made their own ale.  In 1653 Dionis was taken to
> court.  The law was that a brewer had to use four bushels of malt per
> hogshead, and sell the ale for two pence per quart.  Dionis was charging
> three pence a quart.  She was able to prove that she used six bushels per
> hogshead, i.e. the ratio was the same.  The case was dismissed.  As far
> as
> I can tell, the main effect was publicity for the Coffins’ good ale.  I
> don’t know why the case was against Dionis alone.  We might expect that
> her
> husband would be considered responsible for her, but apparently the court
> knew who was in charge. :-}

The often stated claim that at common law a married woman had no legal
personality separate from her husband is certainly wrong.  Thus a
married woman sued an English railway company and won.

However, this price and quality control ordinance was probably a
criminal matter, and there is no doubt that husbands were not answerable
for their wife's crimes. OTOH if she had been convicted and didn't pay
an assessed fine the husband might have had to. The accounting kind of
historian who studies household books and court registers could probably
find examples.

"How many dozen eggs did Vorkosignan House get through each week?"

Little Egret by email
Michael Dolbear in Walton-on-Thames

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