One thought on “common law wife

  1. Probably had its origins in breach of promise of marriage actions which were outlawed in mid 18th C but commonly had evidence of public acceptance of a relationship which included formal displays of affection (canoodling) in front of relatives (I got this from a BBC programme by a historian on the last breach of promise action). It was also the case that marriage was not the most common form of relationship in England until relatively recent times for the majority of ordinary people (sadly neglected in history), most couples just living together. My memory of the myth though is that the common law wife did not consider she had rights as such until the last 30-40 years (when she did acquire potential legal rights), it being more a status thing.

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