Coverture and the Debtors' Prison in the Long Eighteenth Century
Wakelam, Alexander https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4056-5711
Abstract: Until the late nineteenth century, the activities of English women were curtailed by the common law doctrine of coverture. While previous scholarship has documented how wives were able to subvert coverture to trade independently of husbands, little has been observed on how third parties similarly minimised common law. Through debt imprisonment – a largely extrajudicial process – this article reveals how creditors could force property ownership on married women against their will. That imprisoned wives struggled to assert their coverture further reveals the inferiority of contemporary rigid interpretations of coverture compared with the pressing needs of commercial interests.
Online Publication Date
43 History, Heritage and Archaeology, 47 Language, Communication and Culture, 4303 Historical Studies, 4705 Literary Studies
Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies