[LMB] Women's status in old British law OT:

Michael R N Dolbear m.dolbear at lineone.net
Fri May 5 22:49:19 BST 2006

interspersed  @@

> From: J Selin <harimad2001 at yahoo.com>
> Date: 05 May 2006 21:23
> "Coverture" was the legal covering of a married woman by her husband.
>  By law, the husband represented the family vis-a-vis the outside
> world.  Whatever the earlier implementation by the 19th century even
> the best legal minds in Britain couldn't find ways to leave wealth
> and property to their daughters in a way that their SILs couldn't
> leave said daughters destitute.  Which is what led to the legal
> change in status.
@@ Not in fact the case.  When Miss Coutts (banking heiress) married she
has complete confidence in her settlements and her trustees and she was
correct. The Married Woman's Property Acts had the object of making this
legally unnecessary.

> In Britain at the time women, children and idiots were generally
> subject to the same set of laws. 

@@ often said but untrue, eg a married woman could sue for damages after a
railway accident, the child or lunatic would have to have someone do it for

> Under coverture, it was legally
> impossible for a man to rape his wife.  Note the word "legally."  We
> got into quite a row in my Women's Law class when a student said "a
> man couldn't rape his wife," some realized the student meant as a
> matter of law

@@ This seems to be untrue too, since the judges in both England and
Scotland managed make bit by bit changes (1948 to 1992) without parliament
saying a word about the matter. The criminal and civil law concepts of what
'coverture' meant didn't have to be the same.

Little Egret

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