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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree July 2019 > Marriage matters

Marriage matters

If your female ancestor came from a well-off enough family, you may find they signed prenuptial marriage agreements. Adèle Emm takes a closer look at These revealing records

WEALTHY BRIDES

RESEARCH ZONE

A 1734 marriage settlement

What are marriage settlements?

Before the Married Women’s Property Act 1882, as soon as the bride said ‘yes’ at the altar, everything she possessed transferred to her husband. With no legal redress whatsoever, wealthy women risked losing all money, jewels and investments if her prospective husband was feckless or a fortune hunter.

Officially called a covenant, the marriage settlement was a prenuptial agreement financially protecting an heiress. Within it, a trust was created making provision for her to receive a monthly or annual allowance (the settlement) with terms and agreements for her to access it without conjugal interference. The covenant relied heavily on administration by a trustee or trustees, who could be her husband or relative – always male – ensuring the terms were protected. Just like today, it was signed before marriage.

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About Family Tree

We're all busy in today's 24/7 world - but we've got solutions to help you make the most of that precious time and take your family history to the next level... 1. Discover how to transform your approach to your ancestral research in our 20-minute read by professional genealogist Susie Douglas. 2. Make that dream of writing up your family history a reality with our simple strategy for writing up your family history in #1,000words". 3. And never overlook the value of those core vital records. This issue we're exploring 500 years of marriage records and showing you how to use them on your family quest. Plus more than 25 websites to transform your Irish genealogy, memories of the moon landings in this 50th anniversary year, and so much more... Enjoy!