Women before the court

Law and patriarchy in the Anglo-American world, 1600-1800

By Lindsay R. Moore

Women before the court


  • eBook
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3633-6
  • Pages: 184
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: May 2019
  • BIC Category: Early Modern History, History, United States of America, USA, United Kingdom, Great Britain, 18th century, c 1700 to c 1799, 17th century, c 1600 to c 1699, Legal history, HISTORY / Women, LAW / Gender & the Law, LAW / Legal History, Society & social sciences / Gender studies: women, Gender & The Law, Legal History, Gender studies: women & girls
  • Series: Gender in History


This book offers an innovative, comparative approach to the study of women's legal rights during a formative period of Anglo-American history. It traces how colonists transplanted English legal institutions to America, examines the remarkable depth of women's legal knowledge and shows how the law increasingly undermined patriarchal relationships between parents and children, masters and servants, husbands and wives. The book will be of interest to scholars of Britain and colonial America, and to laypeople interested in how women in the past navigated and negotiated the structures of authority that governed them. It is packed with fascinating stories that women related to the courts in cases ranging from murder and abuse to debt and estate litigation. Ultimately, it makes a remarkable contribution to our understandings of law, power and gender in the early modern world.


'this book skilfully ties together the varied experiences of women living and litigating in England and North America across the early modern period. The book will be of interest to historians of women and legal history in Britain and the Atlantic, and should be commended for bringing together scholars who are prone to focus on particular countries or jurisdictions as case studies.'
Rebecca Mason, Reviews in History

'Women before the Court
offers much to scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. [...] This book may be
considered required reading for scholars of women, family, property, commerce, and law in seventeenth-
and eighteenth-century Anglo-America. It also provides a valuable comparative overview for scholars working on the same topics in other countries and regions. For its brevity, helpful exposition of many legal complexities, long time frame, and comparative structure, Women before the Court could also make an excellent choice as a classroom text.'
Journal of British Studies


Introduction: 'When Women goe to Law, the Devill is full of Businesse'
Part I
1 The varieties of Anglo-American law: property, patriarchy, and women's legal status in England and America
2 Women as plaintiffs and defendants: the common law, equity, and ecclesiastical jurisdictions
Part II
3 Masters and mistresses, servants and slaves: patriarchy and subordinate agency in the household
4 Wives and (unwed) mothers: women's claims for financial support
5 Inheritance and family feuds: the legal power of elite women
Part III
6 Economic expansion and the erosion of patriarchy


Lindsay R. Moore teaches European and World History at University of Missouri-Kansas City

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout