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45 L. Q. Rev. 494 (1929)
Wife-Selling in England

handle is hein.journals/lqr45 and id is 534 raw text is: WIFE-SELLING IN ENGLAND.
H ALF a century ago Punch portrayed in a vigorous cartoon
the French conception of the typical Englishman. The
burly, purple-faced, top-booted Briton, with his sturdy cudgel
and bull-dog, was exclaiming ' Rosbif, Godam! I shall sell my
wife in Smithfield to-morrow. Godam! ' Doubtless the fami-
liarity resulting from the entente cordiale has long ago given
our neighbours across the Channel a more accurate acquaintance
with the modern conjugal life of England.
Yet it must be admitted that in bygone generations their
accusation was not wholly groundless. An aristocratic instance,
as old as the reign of Edward I, of the transfer of a wife is cited
by Dugdale (Baronage, 1, 767).      The wife of Sir John de
Camoys had eloped with Sir *Wi]liam Paynel; and to the
adulterer Sir John ' spontanea voluntate mea ' made, by grant
under seal, a gift of the lady, together with her goods and
chattels. After the husband's death, Sir William married her;
and he and she then, in 28 Edw. I, claimed dower for her out
of Sir John's lands. But in 30 Edw. I judgment 1 was given
against them, on account of her adultery; and the deed of grant,
on which they had relied, was of course treated as no excuse.
But not until the rise of a newspaper press, in the latter half
of the eighteenth century, was there any ready means of publicly
recording petty individual instances of such sales  Yet even the
nascent journalism soon disclosed a custom rooted sufficiently
deeply to show that it was of no recent origin. That custom
sprang from one-and the most mischievous-of the many legal
errors that have at times attained a popular currency. For the
great majority of those who took part in wife-selling seem to
have had no doubt that what they did was lawful, and even
conferred legal rights and exemptions. They were far from
realizing that their transaction was an utter nullity; still less
that it was an actual crime and made them indictable for a
conspiracy to bring about an adultery. (Cf. Reg. v. Mears, 4
Cox at p. 427, and Reg. v. Howell, 4 F. & F. 160.)       Nor,
Rot. Parl. I, 140. ' The most elaborately reasoned judgment of the King's
Court that has come to us from Edward I's day ' : 2 Pollock & Maitland, 395.

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