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The Oxford History of the Laws of EnglandVolume XIII: 1820–1914 Fields of Development$
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William Cornish, J Stuart Anderson, Ray Cocks, Michael Lobban, Patrick Polden, and Keith Smith

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199239757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239757.001.0001

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Wives: The Quest for Civil Independence

Wives: The Quest for Civil Independence

Chapter:
(p.757) III Wives: The Quest for Civil Independence
Source:
The Oxford History of the Laws of England
Author(s):

William Cornish

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199239757.003.0025

This chapter shows that in parallel with the demand for judicial divorce came a campaign for married women to be entitled to their separate earnings and other assets, just as much as if they were held in a trust for their own use. If they were wealthy enough they might seek to set up a separate use settlement for the conduct of business affairs; but the expense of establishing the actual trust was considerable and running a business in which trustees became the legal owners of assets could well be cumbersome. For over a decade, the activists continued to press for political rights to be conferred on all women, and property rights, on wives. The campaign reached its climax during the 1867 debates on the reform of the parliamentary franchise.

Keywords:   English law, property rights, married women, wives

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