In the legal code of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England, husband and wife were perceived as one person. In effect, the woman’s separate identity was nullified at her marriage, and she was incorporated into the identity of her husband. Appropriately termed “coverture” because of the suppression of the wife’s independent legal existence, this legal code mandated that upon marriage a woman’s real property, notably freely held land, passed to the control of her husband, along with her personal property, such as money, jewellery, and other such possessions. Under these circumstances, the wife could not even bequeath her personal possessions to particular heirs without the approval of her husband. The wife’s body also …
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Labriola, Albert. "Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 February 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=690, accessed 26 July 2017.]