'Coke, the statute, wives and lovers: the route to a harsh interpretation of the Statute of Westminster II c. 34 on dower and adultery

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper

Abstract

In the Statute of Westminster II (1285) c.34, it was enacted that a widow could lose her action of dower, and the possibility of claiming the usual proportion of her deceased husband’s real property, if, while he was alive, she had left him for a lover, and the married couple had not been reconciled during the husband’s life. This new exception represented an important change in the balance between a widow and her husband’s heir, or others with an interest in lands she might claim as her dower, and is therefore of great significance to the history of women, law and property in the common law world. The exception remained part of the law of England until dower itself was abolished in 1925, but, although the early years of the exception have been explored, its later history is less well known. As this paper will show, this later history was characterised by a slow and contested move away from the early literal and relatively ‘widow-friendly’ interpretation of c.34 to a purposive, more moralising and much more ‘widow-unfriendly’ view, heavily influenced by the opinion of Sir Edward Coke, and encouraged by a number of other legal and social factors.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventSLS Conference 2012 - Bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 11 Sep 201214 Sep 2012

Conference

ConferenceSLS Conference 2012
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityBristol
Period11/09/1214/09/12

Keywords

  • SLS conference legal history, dower, adultery, statute, widow

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