Posted by Michael J. Horvath on February 11, 1998 at 12:41:41:
In response to Settlements--another clarification, written by ElaineL on February 07, 1998 at 10:32:43
From the way I read your question, you are asking about two different things and the answers are different. First, in the 18th and 19th century, when a lady marries, her husband does indeed have full control over her dowry and could "squander" it off any way he chooses. This course could be avoided if a settlement was drafted before the marriage restricting the husband's use of his wife's fortune. Second, during the man's settlement of his estate, either at the age of majority or at marriage, he would usually set aside what is known as "pin-money" for his wife during his life, with a "portion" set aside for his wife upon his death. As trustees usually guarded such settlements, the husband would not have been able, in terms of "pin money" and "portion" to squander it away. Hope this helps. The English system of land and estate settlement is very complicated and I may have oversimplified it here.
] After reading the invaluable information the Mysterious HC has put together on JA's times, I have another clarifying question:
] I read somewhere, maybe in "The Prospect Before Her" that the husband could squander his wife's fortune during the marriage because everything legally belonged to him while he was alive. So was it quite likely there were many widows left with nothing even though the "settlement" required a given amount be left for her? Kind of like "squeezing blood out of a turnip"? Or was an amount kept in a kind of "escrow" for her?
] Thanks to all who contribute to this wealth of knowledge! EL
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