WIFE, domestic relations. A woman who has a husband.
2. A wife, as such, possesses rights and is liable to obligations.
These will be considered. 1st. She may make contracts for the purchase of
real estate for her own benefit, unless her husband expressly dissents. 6
Binn. R. 427. And she is entitled to a legacy directly given to her for her
separate use. 6 Serg. & Rawle, R. 467. In some places, by statutory
provision, she may act as a feme sole trader, and as such acquire personal
property. 2 Serg. & Rawle, R. 289.
3. 2d. She may in Pennsylvania, and in most other states, convey her
interest in her own or her husband's lands by deed acknowledged in a form
prescribed by law. 8 Dowl. R. 630.
4.-3d. She is under obligation to love, honor and obey her husband and
is bound to follow him wherever he may desire to establish himself: 5 N. S.
60; (it is presumed not out of the boundaries of the United States,) unless
the husband, by acts of injustice and such as are contrary to his marital
duties, renders her life or happiness insecure.
5.-4th. She is not liable for any obligations she enters into to pay
money on any contract she makes, while she lives with her husband; she is
presumed in such case to act as the agent of her husband. Chitty, Contr. 43
6.-5th. The incapacities of femes covert, apply to their civil rights,
and are intended for their protection and interest. Their political rights
stand upon different grounds, they can, therefore, acquire and lose a
national character. These rights stand upon the general principles of the
law of nations. Harp. Eq. R. 5 3 Pet. R. 242.
7.-6th. A wife, like all other persons, when she acts with freedom, may
be punished for her criminal acts. But the law presumes, when she commits in
his presence a crime, not malum in se, as murder or treason, that she acts
by the command and coercion of her husband, and, upon this ground, she is
exempted from punishment. Rose. on Cr. Ev. 785. But this is only a
presumption of law, and if it appears, upon the evidence, that she did not
in fact commit the act under compulsion, but was herself a principal actor
and inciter in it, she may be punished. 1 Hale, P. C. 516; 1 Russ. on Cr.
16, 20. Vide Contract; Divorce; Husband; Incapacity; Marriage; Necessaries;
Parties to actions; Parties to contracts; Women and, generally, Bouv. Inst.
, common-law wife
, feme covert
, married woman
, old lady
, old woman
, other half
, wedded wife