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City WomenMoney, Sex, and the Social Order in Early Modern London$
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Eleanor Hubbard

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199609345

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609345.001.0001

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Dealing with Death

Dealing with Death

(p.235) 7 Dealing with Death
City Women

Eleanor Hubbard

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses widowhood, remarriage, and old age in early modern London. It uses quantitative data to demonstrate that London widows remarried rapidly. City law treated widows relatively favorably in terms of inheritance, and remarriage – with the accompanying horizontal wealth transfers – was an accepted part of London’s commercial culture. Only elderly widows were unlikely to remarry. Remarrying widows demonstrated a preference for younger, bachelor bridegrooms, perhaps because they hoped to obtain the benefits of marriage without the disadvantages of subjection by marrying poorer men. These marriages were risky, however, as poor bridegrooms might attempt to assert household mastery. This chapter also argues that widows who remained single and independent posed no threat to patriarchal order, and discusses their survival strategies. It concludes by examining the stresses of old age and physical decline.

Keywords:   widowhood, remarriage, marriage preferences, courtship, inheritance, customary law, widows, patriarchy, old age, death

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