Whereas my husband, Enoch Darling, has at sundry instances used me in so incorrect and harsh a fashion, as to damage my happiness and endanger my existence, and while he has no longer supplied for me as a husband ought, yet expended his time and cash unadvisedly, at taverns . . . . I hereby notify the general public that i'm obliged to go away him.
Phebe Darling, January thirteen, 1796
Hundreds of provocative notices similar to this one ran in New England newspapers among 1790 and 1830. those elopement notices--advertisements paid for through husbands and infrequently other halves to announce their spouses' desertions in addition to the non-public information in their marital conflicts--testify to the problems that many skilled, and lift questions about the character of the conjugal relationship in early nationwide New England.
Stray Wives examines marriage, kin, gender, and the legislation throughout the lens of those elopement notices. along with criminal treatises, courtroom documents, and prescriptive literature, Mary Beth Sievens highlights the customarily tenuous relationships between marriage legislation, marital beliefs, and lived adventure within the early Republic, an period of remarkable cultural and financial change.
Elopement notices allowed to barter the that means of those adjustments, via contests over concerns equivalent to gender roles, intake, financial help, and estate possession. Sievens finds the ambiguous, frequently contested nature of marital legislation, displaying that husbands' more desirable prestige and better halves' dependence have been fluid and negotiable, topic to the differing interpretations of criminal commentators, neighborhood individuals, and spouses themselves.