On This Day: 11 September 1691

On this day in 1691, Thomas Bowrey and Phillip Gardiner drew up the Marriage Settlement for the intended marriage between Bowrey and Gardiner’s daughter, Mary. A Marriage Settlement is basically a 17th century prenup.

Gardiner was to give Bowrey £300 at the time of the marriage and pledged to bequeath him at least another £500 on his death. Although deferred payments such as this were not unusual, it was common for a bride’s portion to more or less equal the groom’s fortune. The marriage settlement appears to undervalue Bowrey’s wealth.

To ensure his daughter was not to be destitute if she was widowed, Gardiner required Bowrey to leave Mary £1,200 or goods to that value in his will. In London at the time, it was custom for a widow to receive one third of her deceased husband’s estate. This provision ensured Mary would receive a minimum amount whatever the value of the estate.


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