Married women in ct

Added: Makisha Loeffler - Date: 10.03.2022 14:28 - Views: 27422 - Clicks: 3772

Several cases in the New Haven County Court Records involved women, both as plaintiffs and defendants. Before we profile these types of cases in future blog posts, we will discuss how women were legally viewed, treated, and expected to conduct themselves in colonial Connecticut. Cropped image from the first of New Proverbs, On the Pride of Women, or The vanity of this world displayed , courtesy of unknown engraver, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

It is a common belief among modern Americans that women were treated as chattel or property in eras of Western history. However, a more apt comparison would be that European- and Anglo-descended women in early New England possessed the legal status our society currently deates for minor children.

As ly discussed , it is the enslaved people who were deemed property, as they were bought, sold, and listed in wills and estate inventories alongside other household goods. Puritan society was strictly hierarchal, with the expectation that children were to submit to their parents, women to their husbands, and men to their church elders and to God. Single women over 18 and widows were allowed to conduct lawsuits on their own behalf, but given that around 95 percent of colonial women married at least once in their lifetimes Dayton, Women Before the Bar , p.

Proper Puritan matrons sought neither independence nor control in their marriages. This legal principle is why investigators and researchers will come across several cases in the New Haven County Court Records in which women are plaintiffs and defendants alongside their husbands, or their husbands are solely representing them in court.

Several New Haven County Court cases demonstrate this expectation. They approached it, not as a period of sudden emancipation and autonomy, but rather as an office of trusteeship and stewardship. This expectation of widows did decrease somewhat in later generations. In addition, the culture of New Haven County had changed since the Puritans originally established the colony in the seventeenth century.

She sought a divorce from her long-gone husband Peter, complaining that every enterprise that he launched failed and that he left her and her children penniless. Unfortunately, it remained extremely difficult for women to divorce on grounds of cruelty alone. Women who were abused by their husbands—but not deserted through abandonment or adultery—had little recourse other than attempting to petition the courts for a guarantee of peace.

The reason Connecticut allowed absolute divorce at all was because the Puritans who founded New Haven colony refused to countenance the half-measures of divorce a mensa et thoro separation of board and hearth only that England and several of the other colonies preferred. For the judges and lawmakers of Connecticut, it was a ridiculous notion to keep couples in the limbo of being detached but not entirely free of their bonds—if a marriage was invalid, it ought to be dissolved entirely.

This dissolution could be accomplished without risk of damnation, for the Puritans viewed marriage as a civil contract rather than a sacrament Salmon, Women and the Law of Property , p. Apparently, divorce in Connecticut was so uncommon that court officials felt the need to document it in their records.

In , Hannah Hall sued Stephen Barnes for debt, and her status as a divorcee is noted at least twice. As one might surmise, the requirements for absolute submission and legal dependency on men that colonial women were forced to endure led to several hardships, particularly for single women and widows. Women who did not have husbands or whose families either could not or refused to support them often found themselves begging the courts for relief.

They needed public assistance. While judges and lawmakers felt some obligation to protect widows with meager options and wives whose husbands abused their authority, their paternalistic mindset prevented them from granting much in the way of real relief. Unfortunately, when laws are formulated according to philosophical ideals rather than how humans actually behave in given situations, this often in a great deal of suffering for the people whose personal situations do not fit the model.

In an environment where females were utterly dependent on the strength of their familial and communal connections to survive, women were highly concerned with maintaining an unimpeachable reputation, and did not hesitate to initiate lawsuits defending themselves against slander. Unlike men, who sued for economic defamation that damaged their credit and their good name as traders, women sued for slander of character that cost them the respect of their neighbors, their prospects for marriage, and their overall social status Dayton, Women Before the Bar , pp.

The next blog post will discuss just such a case that occurred in the New Haven County County Court in , where a widow sued a man in her community for slandering her as a witch. It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected . Legal Status It is a common belief among modern Americans that women were treated as chattel or property in eras of Western history. Consequences of Enforced Dependency As one might surmise, the requirements for absolute submission and legal dependency on men that colonial women were forced to endure led to several hardships, particularly for single women and widows.

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Married women in ct

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Legal disabilities of married women in Connecticut.