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Dating and marriage custioms in welsh

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The church courts, although not technically involved with the land that by custom went to the eldest son, would try to make sure that adequate provision was made from the personal estate for the widow's remaining years and for the other children.

With the increase in the value of land in the 18th century, out of proportion to that of household good, comparable provision for daughters and younger sons became much more difficult.

It was recognised that if she survived her husband she would be entitled to her thirds and dower and so it was agreed that a third of the money involved should be retained by Gyles Thornton Heysham as an indemnity against any claim from her.

Heysham agreed to pay the couple interest at four per cent yearly on that third during their lives.

An interesting example is that of William Lucas of Hitchin, carpenter, who just after his marriage to Mary Blow, the daughter of Thomas Blow, of Stevenage, carpenter, agreed by settlement dated 30 January 1755 to put into the hands of his father-in-law and Joseph Ewesdin the maltings in Bancroft Street, Hitchin, and other property that he had inherited from his grandfather Simon Lucas, and in which he and his wife lived, for the nominal sum of five shillings.

These arrangements were to make "a competent jointure" for Mary Blow (who could not sign her name) should she survive him, as well as some provision for their children, and were to be "in recompence barr and satisfaction of all dower and thirds which she hath ... Such an arrangement in a trading or commercial family, of course, gave the couple some protection from complete loss should the husband be forced into bankruptcy.

When in September 1677, for instance, it was agreed that John Collyson of Pirton, yeoman, should marry Elizabeth, the daughter of Michael Ansell the Elder, yeoman, Michael "in consideration of a marriage shortly hereafter by God's grace to be had and solemnized" settled on the couple as his daughter's jointure some seven and a half acres of arable land in Pirton, four acres of which were in the common fields and the remainder freehold.

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The payment of the more flexible jointure, when secured by a settlement, in due course came to replace the woman's right to their thirds.It is no wonder that parents in quite ordinary families, if they lived long enough, attempted to safeguard their daughters' property rights and futures by written bonds or settlements, something which many widows also did prior to a second marriage.It is a mistake, therefore, to think that before the 1882 Act the position of all married women was entirely circumscribed and that all were completely dependent on the goodwill of their husbands.From at least the 12th century the common law of England had sought to protect the widow.By common law a third of a man's estate had to pass at his death to his widow for her lifetime or until she married again.Sometimes as much as a half or even the whole of the property was reserved for her use.