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Prenuptial agreement, Elizabeth [Murray] Campbell and James Smith, 13 March 1760, J. M. Robbins Papers, Courtesy, Massachusetts Historical Society. Page 1

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Prenuptial agreement, Elizabeth [Murray] Campbell and James Smith, 13 March 1760.

Elizabeth [Murray] Campbell had been a widow for a little over a year when she married for the second time, at the age of 33, to James Smith, a 70-year-old widowed and childless sugar merchant. Before they wed, the two signed a prenuptial agreement that largely cancelled out the legal coverture of marriage. In the colonial period, when a woman and a man married, the woman’s legal and economic rights declined significantly, and she could no longer keep her own earnings, write a will, sue or be sued.

For more on Elizabeth Murray’s marriages, see Patricia Cleary, Elizabeth Murray: A Woman’s Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000). On Elizabeth Murray’s prenuptial agreements, see Mary Beth Norton, “A Cherished Spirit of Independence: The Life of an Eighteenth-Century Boston Businesswoman.” In Women of America: A History, ed. Carol Ruth Berkin and Mary Beth Norton, 48-67. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979; on women and legal issues in the colonial period, see Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Law of Property in Early America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986


seealsoSee Will of Elizabeth Inman, 14 May 1785; grave of Elizabeth Inman, King’s Church Burying Ground.