The statement is headed "Subpoena of Leonard Russell, 13 Feb 1957, re Evelyn Waugh (male) and Beaverbrook Newspapers Limited and Nancy Spain (Feme Sole
) Queen's Bench Division, High Court of Justice on 14 Feb 1957."
Other times, credit-based exchanges required women to operate independently, as feme sole
The actual case on which this book is based is a tragedy, and the author gives it the operatic treatment it deserves in a big novel told from multiple viewpoints in numerous chapters with titles such as "Prima Facie," "Feme Covert" (a reference to the law that defined every wife as a perpetual minor whose legal identity was subsumed by that of her husband), "Reasonable Suspicion," "Engagement," and on to "Verdict" and "Feme Sole
." For anyone with an interest in the early feminist movement, in Victorian literature, or in "women's fiction" in the broadest sense, this book is not to be missed.
(11) Tucker referred to a law of 1727 that confirmed the status of slaves as real property and pronounced that the "right of a Feme covert to a slave shall vest in the husband absolutely; that of a feme sole, on her marriage." (12) He proceeded to criticize this law as absurdly denying women their equal rights:</p> <pre> The laws respecting them [slaves] are not always founded in perfect Justice: A man marries a woman possessed of slaves in her own Right; they become his instantly upon the marriage; they may be taken in exemption to satisfy his previous Debts; if he dies in the Lifetime of his wife, she shall have the use of one third part of her own slaves, only, during her Life.
bequeathed, or hath, or shall descend to any feme covert, the absolute right, property and interest of such slave is thereby vested, and shall accrue to, and be vested in, the husband of such feme covert; and where any feme sole, is or shall be possessed of any slave, as of her own property, the same shall accrue to, and be absolutely vested in the husband of such feme, when she shall marry.
The ideal Baptist daughter dreaded pride "more than the Plague," gave herself "up to prayer," strove "to be Sober and Vertuous," graced herself with "modest Apparel," and labored "after the Ornaments of the inward Man." (19) Such a daughter knew how to behave herself whether she married or remained a feme sole.
"The term 'feme sole' described the single woman after childhood and especially after the age of twenty-six, the average age for middle-class and lower-class women to enter marriage." (20) Contemporaries, holding marriage as the norm for women, stigmatized single women by implying their "failure to marry." (21) Whereas some English women preferred to remain single, other women, wanting to marry, encountered an uneven sex ratio.
And what of a widow with a business, or a servant willing to work for a wage, a feme sole
? These questions can provoke others: as Christopher Hill has shown, Leveller argument in the mid-1600s identified the category of the property-less as that of the male wage-earner, one who had sold the labor he has in himself and was on that account to be deemed "unfree." (4) Did the concept of freedom have any place in the contemporary thinking about women?
Howe acts as an unchallenged rather than suppressed mother, an unfettered feme sole
rather than feme covert, and as both public and private family leader.
In pre-1960 dictionaries you will find the term feme sole
, meaning an independent agent, one who supported herself....fem.
Mary Frith took advantage of her rise in status as a married woman in claiming to be, as the case required, either a feme sole
, a single woman, or a feme covert, a married woman under coverture whose legal identity was covered by her husband.