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Ante- and post-nuptial documents of Joshua Lazarus and Phebe Yates, 1835 and 1836
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Settlement Previous to the Marriage of Mr. Joshua Lazarus and Miss Phebe Yates, dated 27th October, 1835
Liverpool, England
Paper, ink, wax and ribbon
Private collection

Post Nuptial Settlement in Pursuance of Antenuptial Contract, Joshua Lazarus to Benjamin D. Lazarus and Philip Phillips, dated 13th April, 1836
Charleston, S.C.
Parchment, paper, ink, wax and ribbon
Private collection

Nuptial documents secured a married woman’s rights to property despite her status as a feme covert (that is, “covered” by her husband). Unless granted the status of “sole trader” or protected by a legal document of some sort, a married woman could not act in her own name and had no property rights except to a dower.

In October 1835, almost 20 years after they first met, Joshua and Phebe were married in Liverpool, England. Six months later, in April 1836, a “post-nuptial” agreement, signed in Charleston, put into effect the terms of the “ante-nuptial” contract signed the previous fall, by which the groom paid $10,000 in trust for Phebe or her children and provided that “notwithstanding her coveture,” the bride could name her own trustees or could act for herself. One of the trustees was Joshua’s nephew Phillip Phillips, who soon would marry Phebe’s niece Eugenia Levy. The other trustee was Joshua’s younger brother Benjamin Dores Lazarus.

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Last updated: Wednesday, September 18, 2019