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Chattel marriage refers to a form of marriage in which the husband owned his wife, and any children of their union, in a legal relationship similar to that of slavery. The term refers to the root word 'cattle', from which comes 'chattel', which refers to personal property, as opposed to real property, such as land.
Most European noblewomen were party to chattel marriages, although if they brought money or property with them to the marriage, there were usually contracts involved, and "dower rights" were preserved to the wives.
- What Do You Get When You Cross an 18th-Century English Archetype with 18th-Century Cherokee Mores Text of the September 25, 2004, address to the Cherokee Women's Pocahontas Club of Claremore, Oklahoma by Patricia Anne Dickerson Lemon