Ms. Jackson’s Legacy

As Special Collection’s celebration of Women’s History Month continues, we have another item of interest.  This highlight comes to us again from the Francis Cabell Brown Collection.  This manuscript collection contains an assortment of 18th and early 19th century Justice of the Peace writs from Queens County in New York and Windham, Litchfield and New London Counties in Connecticut. 

This feature is an estate writ, believed to be from the late 18th century.   The transcription is as follows:

Release of dower legacy by Elizabeth Jackson.  Ms. Jackson releases the legacy she received by right of dower from her deceased husband to her two sons, DJ & JJ, and their heirs. This also includes real estate she received.  Undated and Unsigned.

The verso, or back, of the writ contains only some mathematical notes and the inscription “Right of Dower Elizabeth Jackson”.  This writ is another unique example of women in the law in early Colonial America.

For some other interesting reads check out:

The Ties That Buy: Women and Commerce in Revolutionary America, by Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor

Constitutional Context: Women and Rights Discourse in Nineteenth-Century America, by Kathleen S. Sullivan

Witches, Wife Beaters and Whores:  Common Law and Common Folk in Early America, by Elaine Forman Crane

For more information on the manuscript collections, contact Special Collections at 202/661-6602 or email

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