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Legal Rights for women - early 19th century
User Rank: Beginner
Joined: 1/24/2012
Posts: 2

Created By:William Jenkins
I'm studying a couple that had four sons.  Wife from Delaware and Husband from Pennsylvania.  First child born in 1826.  I also have a Probate record of Wife's father settled in 1830 with her maiden name cited in the record.  My understanding was that all property belonged to the husband in the early 19th century and the wife had no property.  With the probate record listing the maiden name of the wife cited above, this would mean that the two were never married (at least not before 1830).  Any thoughts on this?

User Rank: Beginner
Joined: 8/9/2010
Posts: 1

Created By:Theresa

I don't have an official answer for you, just a guess.

Could it be that the woman's father made out his will some years before she married?  He 

might have simply forgotten to change the will to her married name.

Possibly this was deliberate, and designed to impress upon the son-in-law, that the 

property rightfully belonged to the woman?

Theresa Grieshaber

User Rank: Contributor
Joined: 8/9/2010
Posts: 24

Created By:Virginia

 One explanation may be that this family was German or of German origin.  My New York German ancestors often used the wife's maiden name in documents, well after marriage. Specifically, I refer to baptisms, where a couple would be the sponsors.  For example the sponsors (or godparents) would be John Smith and his wife Anna Brown.  After folks were in the US for a couple of generations they tended to adopt the local custom of the wife taking her husband's surname.

I also have a family, also German, where a father left a legacy to his married daughter and when she died, her husband had to apply for guardianship of his own children in order to protect this legacy.  So, it passed from father, to daughter, to grandchildren, without being merged with her husband's assets.


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