The varieties of Anglo-American law
Property, patriarchy and women’s legal status in England and America
in Women before the court
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This chapter defines women’s legal status in a variety of legal jurisdictions across the Anglo-American world, and examines how colonists adopted and modified English law in the earliest decades of colonisation. It argues that the complexity of the English legal system gave English women a decisive advantage over some of their colonial counterparts. While married women were limited in common law courts by the doctrine of coverture, other legal jurisdictions provided women with alternative avenues for legal redress when defending their property and persons. The two most important jurisdictions for women in England were equity law and ecclesiastical law, which both provided some remedy for the common law’s severity toward women.

Women before the court

Law and patriarchy in the Anglo-American world, 1600–1800


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