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I have a copy of a will dated 1743 of a married man, from Oxfordshire, England, which makes no mention of his wife. All his estate is left to his siblings, nephews, servants, etc. They had no children.

His wife's father left a will in 1740 in which he left his daughter a legacy (in trust of her brother) of £100 on the provision that the legacy be "for her sole use and benefit" and in such manner "that her said husband may have nothing to do therewith." So clearly they did not get on well.

His widow went on to remarry within months of his death.

There is no evidence that they divorced.

I find it odd that the husband made no mention of his wife in his will - if only to say she was not entitled to anything. At this time would there have been any legal recourse for her to claim any part of his estate?

  • Do you know if there was a marriage settlement? She would have been entitled to dower, I believe, unless barred by a marriage settlement. And it wasn't unusual for a father to leave money to a daughter in such a way that her husband couldn't touch it (i.e. it wasn't subject to coverture). – ColeValleyGirl Jul 21 '19 at 15:12
  • @ColeValleyGirl I don't know of any marriage settlement, but there likely was one as the husband was very wealthy. The wife also clearly had some of her own money from her father. The part I find odd is that he did not even mention her in the will. As for her father's will, it does seem that there was some animosity (although I agree we can't know for sure) by the repeated statements that her husband should have no part, and the fact that the money had to be left in trust to her brother such that the husband could not ever have any use of it. And no such statements for legacies left to others. – Harry Vervet Jul 21 '19 at 15:18
  • If she was entitled to dower, it was (I think) automatic and didn't need to be mentioned in the will. Ditto if there was a settlement. – ColeValleyGirl Jul 21 '19 at 15:25
  • P.S. I'm not answering because I'd need to do a lot of work to be absolutely certain of my facts, and I'm up to my neck in other things. – ColeValleyGirl Jul 21 '19 at 15:26
  • As @ColeValleyGirl says the formula for excluding her husband from a daughter's inheritance is absolutely standard phrasing intended to ensure that the bequest benefits the daughter and doesn't come under her husband's control. Quite possibly it's boiler plate text invoked by any competent solicitor. – AdrianB38 Jul 23 '19 at 14:08

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