Widows and property

Deborah Wilson

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

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780719077982
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703328 | DOI:
Widows and property

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This chapter discusses the role of widows in the family property distribution and formal–informal powers available to elite woman. Widows were discernably marginalised from family property in Ireland. Throughout the period, all women in the families in this study received jointure in place of dower, which in most cases was significantly less than the widow would have received as dower. Widows also had no rights to their husbands' personal property, which tended to be treated as an extension of estate property and bequeathed as such to the heir. Family practices, such as the use of trustees, further sidelined widows from family financial business. The stereotypical image of the greedy dowager bleeding dry an already encumbered estate was a common feature in the correspondence of this class.

Keywords: widows and property; role of widows; formal–informal power; family property; estate property

Chapter.  10619 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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