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Rankin Family History Project

New Haven Colony Laws


It is Ordered, &c. That every marryed woman (living with her husband in this Jurisdiction, or other where absent from him, with his consent, or through his meer default, or inevitable providence, or in case of Divorce where she is the innocent party) that shall not before marriage be estated by way of Joynture (according to Agreement) in some Housing, Lands, Tenements, Hereditaments, or other means for tearm of her life, shall immediately after the death of her husband, have right and interest by way of Dower, in and to one third part of all such Houses, Lands, Tenements and Hereditaments, as her said husband was seized of to his own use, either in possession, reversion, or remainder, within this Jurisdiction, at any time during the marriage, to have and enjoy for tearm of her naturall life, according to the estate of such husband, free, and freely discharged of and from all Titles, Debts, Rents, Charges, Judgements, Executions, and other Incumbrances whatsoever, had, made, or suffered by her said husband, during the said marriage between them, or by any other person claiming by, from, or under him, otherwise then by any Act, or consent of such wife, as this Court shall ratifie, and allow.

And if the Heir of the husband, or other person interessed, shall not within one month after lawfull demand made, Assign, and set out to such widow, her just third part with conveniency, or to her satisfaction, according to the intent of this Law, then upon due complaint, and prosecution either before the Court of Magistrates, or Plantation Court, as the case may require, her Dower, or third part, shall be assigned and set forth by such persons as the Court shall appoint, with due costs and damages.

Provided that this Law shall not extend to any Houses, Lands, Tenements, or other Hereditaments, sold or conveyed away by any husband bona fide, for valuable consideration before this Law was published.

And it is further Ordered, That every such wife, as before expressed, immediately after the death of her husband, shall have interest in, and unto, one third part of all such Money, Goods and Chattels, of what kind soever, whereof her husband shall dye possessed, (so much as shall be sufficient for the discharge of his Funerall, and just debts, being first deducted) to be allowed, and set out to her (as before appointed) for her Dower;

Provided alwayes, that every such widow endowed as aforsaid, shall from time to time, maintain all such Houses, Fences, Inclosures, with what else shall be for her life assigned to her of such Estate, for her Dowry, and shall in all respects leave the same in good and sufficient repaire, neither committing nor suffering any strip, or wast.

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The Rankin Family History Project began in 1997 with a simple 3 generation family chart.  When our grandmother found out we were researching our family tree, she loaned us her copy of Maryland Catholics on the Frontier by Timothy J. O'Rourke which helped us discover our St. Louis & Perry County roots.  We are also doing research in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

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Rankin Family History Project     Sonoma County, California

Updated February 2000
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