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Married women could not own property in their own right, and were indeed themselves the property of their husbands.

But Blackstone went on to observe that "even the disabilities the wife lies under are, for the most part, intended for her protection and benefit.

In most reports the sale was announced in advance, perhaps by advertisement in a local newspaper.

The farmer wants a wife, The farmer wants a wife, Eee, Aye, Addio, The farmer wants a wife.Desertion or elopement was also possible, whereby the wife was forced out of the family home, or the husband simply set up a new home with his mistress.The Laws Respecting Women, As They Regard Their Natural Rights (1777) observed that, for the poor, wife selling was viewed as a "method of dissolving marriage", when "a husband and wife find themselves heartily tired of each other, and agree to part, if the man has a mind to authenticate the intended separation by making it a matter of public notoriety".In one of the last reported instances of a wife sale in England, a woman giving evidence in a Leeds police court in 1913 claimed that she had been sold to one of her husband's workmates for £1.It was often claimed to be common in rural England, but Cleric/folkloricist Sabine Baring-Gould dedicated a whole chapter to it in his book on Devonshire Folklore.

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