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BOOK gifu.” So Elfeda, in her will, says, “Rettendun
that was my morgen gyfu®;" and Elfhelm, in his will, has this passage: “And I declare what I gave to my wife for her morgen give; that is, Beadewan, and Burge steile, and Strætford, and the three hides at Hean-healem.” The same testator notices an additional present that he had made his wife on her nuptials: “And I gave to her, when we two first came together, the two hides at Wilburgeham, and at Hrægenan, and that thereto lieth.”! The morgen gift was therefore a settlement on the lady very similar to a modern jointure. It was bargained for before marriage, but was not actually vested in the wife till afterwards. Our conception of the thing will be probably simplified and assisted by recollecting the language of our modern settlements. The land or property conveyed by them is given in trust for the person who grants it “until the said marriage shall take effect; and from and immediately after the solemnization thereof,” it is then granted to the uses agreed upon. So the morgen gift was settled before the nuptials, but was not actually given away until the morning afterwards, or until the marriage was completed.
Nothing could be more calculated to produce a very striking dissimilarity, between the Gothic nations and the Oriental states, than this exaltation of the female sex to that honour, consequence, and independence, which European laws studied to uphold. As the education of youth will always
7 See her will. Hickes's Pref. xxii.
9 See his will at length, from Mr. Astle's collection, in the second appendix to the Saxon Dictionary.
rest principally with women, in the most ductile CHAP. part of life, it is of the greatest importance that the fair sex should possess high estimation in society; and nothing could more certainly tend to perpetuate this feeling, than the privilege of possessing property in their own right, and at their own disposal.
That the Anglo-Saxon ladies both inherited and disposed of property as they pleased, appears from many instances : a wife is mentioned who devised land by her will, with the consent of her husband in his life-time. 10 We read also of land which a wife had sold in her husband's life.11 We frequently find wives the parties to a sale of land 2 ; and still oftener we read of estates given to women, or devised by men of affluence to their wives. 13 Widows selling property is also a common currence; so is the incident of women devising it.15 That they inherited land is also clear, for a case is mentioned wherein, there being no male heir, the estate went to a female.16 Women appear as tenants in capite in Doomsday.
THERE are many instances of land being granted to both husband and wife. The queens frequently join in the charters with the kings 18 ; and it is once mentioned, that a widow and the heirs were sued
10 Hist. Ram.
11 Ibid. 466. 12 Ibid. 472. 474, 475. 408.
13 3 Gale, 441. 407, 408.; and see the wills of Ælfred Dux, and of Elfhelm, in Sax. Dict. App. 2. and several Saxon grants.
14 3 Gale, 468.
15 Ibid. 471. See the charta of Eadgifa in Sax. Dict. App. and of Wynfleda ap. Hickes.
16 Ingulf, p. 39.
38. So Offa gives land to his minister and his sister. Astle, No. 7. ib. 8.
18 Astle's Charters, 48.; and Heming, p. 9, &c.
BOOK for her husband's debts. 19 Indeed, the instances VII.
of women having property transferred to them, and also of their transmitting it to others, surround us on all sides. To name only a few: a king's mother gave five hides to a noble matron, which she gave to à monastery.20 When a bishop had bought some lands of an husband and a wife, he fixed a day when she should come and surrender them, because she had the greater right to the land by a former husband.2 A mother bequeathed property to two of her daughters; and to her third daughter, Leosware, she gave an estate at Weddreringesete, on the reproachful condition, that she should keep herself chaste, or marry, that she and her progeny might not be branded with the infamy of the contagion of prostitution.22
In the oldest Anglo-Saxon law, widows were protected by an express regulation. Four ranks are mentioned : an eorlcund's widow, another sort, a third and fourth sort. Their tranquillity invaded was to be punished by fines adapted to their quality, as fifty shillings, twenty, twelve, and six shillings.23
They were also guarded from personal violence. If any took a widow without her consent, he was to be fined a double mulct.24 It was also expressly forbidden to any one to marry a woman if she was unwilling.”
The morgen gift was not left optional to the husband to give or withhold after the marriage. One of the laws of Ina expressly provides, that if
19 3 Gale, 468.
20 Ibid. 481.
21 Ibid. 472. 22 Ibid. 507. So Alfred in his will gives estates to his three daugh
and also money. 23 Wilk. Leg. Sax. 7.
25 Ibid. 145.
a man bargained for a woman, and the gyft was
These pecuniary bargains which were made on
26 Wilk. Leg. Sax. 20. 28 Ibid. 145.
27 Ibid. 109. 122. 30 Ibid. 19.
29 Ibid. 7.
BOOK impartial counterpart of justice, directed that a
man should not be forced to give his money, unless
AFTER adding that marriages were forbidden
Ir a slave committed a rape on a female slave, he was punished with a corporal mutilation. If any one compelled an immature maiden, he was to abide the same punishment. Whoever violated a ceorl’s wife, was to pay him five shillings, and be fined sixty shillings.34
For adultery with the wife of a twelve hundred man, the offender was to pay one hundred and twenty shillings; and one hundred shillings for the wife of a six hundred man, and forty shillings for
31 Wilk. Leg. Sax. 145.
32 Ibid. 4.