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Women, Marriage and Property in Wealthy Landed Families in Ireland, 1750-1850$
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Deborah Wilson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780719077982

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719077982.001.0001

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Women, marriage and statute law in Ireland

Women, marriage and statute law in Ireland

(p.19) 1 Women, marriage and statute law in Ireland
Women, Marriage and Property in Wealthy Landed Families in Ireland, 1750-1850

Deborah Wilson

Manchester University Press

Clandestine marriages presented a problem for the Irish elite, and, in a bid to protect their property interests, this led the Irish parliament to introduce statutory measures to intervene in the previously private act of marriage. This chapter explores this unprecedented intervention in the marriage contract, which declared some marriages legally invalid, within the context of the development of statute law on marriage in the seventeenth century in Ireland. The problems of coverture, from the perspective of the Irish political elite, were the impact it had on the protection of protestant property interests. This is illustrated by the problem of the abduction of heiresses in Ireland. In the history of abduction, women feature as victims of their gender and legal status. The reputations, and sometimes the lives, of propertied women were endangered by the opportunism of socially and economically marginalised lower gentry, who regarded abduction, although illegal and often violent, as ‘strategies through which property could be gained’.

Keywords:   clandestine marriages, statute law, Irish elite, marriage contract, Irish parliament

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