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Women Before the CourtLaw and Patriarchy in the Anglo-American World, 1600-1800$
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Lindsay R. Moore

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526136336

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526136343

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Women as plaintiffs and defendants: the common law, equity and ecclesiastical jurisdictions

Women as plaintiffs and defendants: the common law, equity and ecclesiastical jurisdictions

Chapter:
(p.39) 2 Women as plaintiffs and defendants: the common law, equity and ecclesiastical jurisdictions
Source:
Women Before the Court
Author(s):

Lindsay R. Moore

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7765/9781526136343.00008

This chapter offers a quantitative analysis of female litigants in courts across three jurisdictions during the seventeenth century. Though the percentage of female litigants in common law courts remained low, an increasing number of women sought legal redress under equity law in England. In those colonies that established courts of chancery based on the English model, such as the Chesapeake Bay colonies and South Carolina, women also had the benefit of an equity jurisdiction that recognised exceptions to the doctrine of coverture. This chapter also presents remarkable evidence that women appeared as plaintiffs and defendants in more than half of the cases heard before the English ecclesiastical law courts, a percentage that far outstrips women’s participation in any court in the colonies.

Keywords:   women, common law, equity law, ecclesiastical law, chancery, England, Chesapeake, South Carolina, coverture, seventeenth century

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