Based on the experiences of her evidential sample, Wilson echoes the argument of Eileen Spring that the replacement of the common law dower arrangement with the jointure (which was integral to the strict settlement that the law of equity supported) disadvantaged women.
This is not to suggest that strict settlement was without benefit or opportunity for women.
The function of the strict settlement was to keep the large estate intact to be managed by the eldest sons in succession.
The strict settlement was a trust arrangement because the courts and Parliament had disallowed similar restrictions under deeds of land that were not in trust.
By the late eighteenth century, however, the character of the court's business, like the tough terms of contemporary wills guaranteeing strict settlement, had become freighted with the interests of propertied men.
As Patricia Parker's study of the language of parturition and promise in The Winter's Tale (1611) reveals, early modern culture was to some degree predicated on the notion that the actual reproductive capacities of women made them not only symbolic midwives of masculine power and privilege but also, in accordance with inheritance by strict settlement, virtual slaves to that end and thus by definition radically "unfree.
As part of telling the story of how the heiress-at-law was put down, Spring reevaluates the strict settlement
in terms of how it participated in the history of the family.
This work attempts to recast the real property law history of the English family, holding that a major feature of upper-class inheritance from the fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries was the virtual exclusion of females from land-holding through the legal devices of the entail, use, and strict settlement, which nullified the common law rules of inheritance under which 40 per cent of the land would have been held or inherited by females.
5), except for the chapter on the strict settlement which social historians can omit' There are appendices which contain short abstracts of strict settlements and trusts from legal abridgments, and a short, incomplete index with subject entries such as "conflicts" and "family" which would have been more useful in a larger book where they would be more difficult to find.
In the aftermath of the civil wars of the seventeenth century, most such landowners came to resort to "the strict settlement
," the binding legal document that caused proprietors of vast estates to look on them not "as simply another form of property, but as a trust.
In particular, Habakkuk revealed in exquisite detail the workings of the strict settlement
, the set of legal arrangements which great landed families used to prevent the sale of and and thus ensure the smooth passage of their estates intact down through the generations.