Marriage Settlements

Marriage settlements make up a large proportion of the documents in the manuscript. They reflect the trend for strict marriage settlements along the lines of primogeniture. At this time most families encouraged, or insisted, on a jointure, a joint life estate for the bride and groom. With a jointure in place if the husband predeceased the wife the wife would have immediate access to their lands and money without having to sue for her rights. The jointure also benefited the heirs of estates as the property could not be divided, keeping the husband’s lands intact while adding to them the wife’s dowry lands upon her death.

There were two types marriage settlements:

Prenuptial:

  • required only the consent of the bride’s parents, not the bride
  • were legally binding
  • bride had a choice between a jointure or her dowry but not both. 
  • Document 4 is an example of a prenuptial marriage settlement between Edward Craddork and John Salmont (the father of the bride, Alice). Notice that Alice may not have even been present when the marriage settlement was drawn up. 


“This indenture made the                           daie of June in the
yeares of the rainge of our soverainge Lord Charles
by the grace of god of England Scotland Ffraunce
and Ireland kinge defendoer of the faither – the tenth
Beetweene Edward Craddorke of Leeke in the county
of Staff- yeoman on thoue partie John Salmont helde
of Chedulton in the sayd county yeoman William
Salmon sonne of the sayd John and Edward-Shorte
of Mayforde in the sayd county gent on th’ other pty
wittnesseth that it is covemented condisended x
concluded and fullie agreed by and betweene
the sayd partyes in manner and forme followeing
and ffirst the sayd Edward Craddorke doth [forhm]
his executors and adminstrator and everie of them
coveunt and graunte to and with the sayd John
Salmon his evecutor and administrator by their
presents that hee the sayd Edward Shall and will
(by gods grace) espouse marrie and take to his wife
Alice Salmon one of the daughters of the sayd
John Salmon”


Post-nuptial:
  • typically created by the bride
  • not legally binding
  • wife had the option of refusing the previous agreed-to jointure or keeping it
  • wife could sue for her dowry while maintaining jointure. 
  • Document 5 is an example of a post-nuptial marriage settlement involving Thomas and Katherine Brown. Note how the issue is primarily between the husband and wife (though families are involved). 


“a Marriage allreadie had and solemumised between the sayd
Thomas Brown and the said Katherine, and forthe the assurance
of a Competent and convenient joynture for the sayd Katherine
for terme of her life out of the landes tenements and heredtaments
of the said john brown as alsoe in accomplisement of a former
agreement in that behalfe made before the sayd marriage xx”


The sixteenth century saw the rise in inheritance based on the rules of primogeniture in England, that is leaving everything to the first born son, owing in part to Henry VIII’s Statute of Uses. This ensured that estates would remain intact regardless of the number of sons a family had, large enough that the owner could run for public offices and would pay taxes. Primogeniture ensured social and political stability as the same families would consistently hold property and therefor public offices.

However, families still cared about younger sons and unmarried daughters, therefore marriage settlements (pre and post nuptial) included provisions for them. In Document 11 there is the typical indenture of marriage (pre-nuptial) involving a Joynture between husband and wife with an added proviso for a daughter (or daughters) that may be born in the case that they have no sons.

\Indentures of Marriage/ 

                                              Witnesseth that the said A:B: and C:B: aswell 
for [x] inconsideration of Two severall marriages
the one between the said A:B: and M: his
wife daughter of the said C:D: and the some of
of 200l of lawfull money of England unto the
said A:B: and E:B or the one of them as the
 marriage portion of the said [R]: by the said
 C:D: in hand paid at and upon the said Inter-
marriage between the E:B: and N: his
wife  And for provison to be made for the Joynture
and Joyntures of the said N: and M: in case they
or either of them shall happen to survive and
over live their said husbands and for the-
setlinge and estate singe of all and singulare the
messuages lands and premisses heareafter hearein
mentioned in the name and bloud of the said
 A:B:  and E:B: soe longe as it shall please god to –
Contynewe the same as alsoe in performance of cer-
taine Articles of agreement made between [er]= 
\A provisoe for daughters protions in case noe issue made/

 bearinge date [er] have graunted provided all
wayes and it is heareby convenated graunted
Concluded condiscended and fully and absolutely
agreed by and betweene all the said parties to
theise presents from for them and their heires
That if it shall happen that said A:B: to dye
without issue male of his body uppon the bodye
of the said M: his now wife lawfully begotten
and at the tyme of his death to have onely issue
 one daughter of his body uppon the body of the said
M lawfully begotten and that the said
daughter be living at the tyme of his death that
 then hee unto whom the next and imediate re-
maynder or revertion of the said messuages
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