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A Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most Important Laws Concerning Women; Together with a Few Observations Thereon . Bodichon, Barbara Leigh Smith, 1827–1891.
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A single woman.

A SINGLE woman has the same rights to property, to protection from the law, and has to pay the same taxes to the State, as a man.

No political franchise.

Yet a woman of the age of twenty‐one, having the requisite property qualifications, cannot vote in elections for members of Parliament.

Has a parochial vote.

A woman duly qualified can vote upon parish questions, and for parish officers, overseers, surveyors, vestry clerks, &c.


If her father or mother die intestate ( i.e. id est , without a will) she takes an equal share with her brothers and sisters of the personal property i.e. id est , goods, chattels, moveables), but her eldest brother, if she have one, and his children, even daughters, will take the real property, ( i.e. id est , not personal property, but all other, as land, &c.), as the heir‐at‐law; males and their issue being preferred to females; if, however, she have sisters only, then all the sisters take the real property equally. If she be an only child, she is entitled to all the intestate real and personal property.

No public employments.

The church and nearly all offices under government are closed to women. The Post‐office affords some little employment to them; but there is no important office which they can hold, with the single exception of that of Sovereign.

The professions of law and medicine,* whether or not closed by law, are closed in fact. They may engage in trade, and may occupy inferior situations, such as matron of a charity, sextoness of a church, and a few parochial offices are open to them. Women are occasionally governors

Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D., received her diploma in America before she walked St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

page: 4 of prisons for women, overseers of the poor, and parish clerks. A woman may be ranger of a park; a woman can take part in the government of a great empire by buying East India Stock.

Domestic servant.

A servant and a master or mistress are bound by a verbal or written agreement. If no special agreement is made, a servant is held by the common custom of the realm to be hired from year to year, and the engagement cannot be put an end to without a month’s notice on either side.


If a woman is seduced, she has no remedy against the seducer; nor has her father, excepting as he is considered in law as being her master and she his servant, and the seducer as having deprived him of her services. Very slight service is deemed sufficient in law, but evidence of some service is absolutely necessary, whether the daughter be of full age or under age.

These are the only special laws concerning single women: the law speaks of men only, but women are affected by all the laws and incur the same responsibilities in all their contracts and doings as men.

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