WONERSH
© Wonersh History Society - www.wonershhistory.co.uk   (WHS)
HISTORY SOCIETY
THE LEGACY Caroline   was   evicted   from   her   home   and   George   took   possession   of   all   the   property   that   she   had   there including   jewellery   and   clothes.   She   tried   to   obtain   a   legal   separation   and   custody   over   her   sons   but quickly   realised   that   she   had   no   legal   rights   to   her   children.      She   decided   that   the   only   way   she   would ever   gain   access   to   her   children   was   to   campaign   to   change   the   law.      And   so   she   did.      After   a   long   fight the   Infant   Custody   Bill   of   1839    was   passed   giving   married   mothers,   not   guilty   of   adultery,   custody   of their   children   under   seven   and   access   to   children   under   sixteen.      George,   vindictive   as   ever,   moved   the children   to   Scotland   where   the   Act   didn’t   apply.      In   September   1842   Caroline’s   son   William,   who   was nine   years   old,   went   riding   on   his   own,   was   thrown   from   his   pony   and   cut   his   arm.      It   wasn’t   a   serious injury   but   he   developed   tetanus.      Caroline   was   sent   for   but   William   died   before   she   arrived.      It   was   only then   that   George   agreed   to   a   legal   separation   and   allowed   Caroline   joint   custody   of   her   remaining boys. George   also   went   to   court   to   try   to   get   possession   of   her   earnings   as   a   writer   and   so,   once   again, Caroline   campaigned   -   this   time   to   protect   the   property   rights   of   married   women.      In   1857,   the Matrimonial    Causes    Act    was    finally    passed.    It    contained    68    clauses,    four    of    which    came    from Caroline’s   pamphlets.   These   included   a   woman’s   right   to   form   a   contract,   to   receive   maintenance   as   directed   by   the   court,   to   inherit   and bequeath property and to keep possession of her own earnings. THE END Unfortunately,   there   was   to   be   no   happy   ending   for   Caroline.         In   her   later   years   she   suffered   from   poor   health and   was   devastated   by   the   death   of   her   eldest   son   Fletcher   from   tuberculosis   when   he   was   only   30.      George died   in   1875   allowing   Caroline   to   marry   a   good   friend   of   25   years,   Sir   William   Stirling-Maxwell,   in   1877   but   in the   summer   of   the   same   year   Caroline   was   taken   ill   and   she   died,   aged   69,   on   15   June.      Her   middle   son, Brinsley,   who   was   an   invalid   and   depended   on   his   mother   financially,   died   in   Capri   a   few   weeks   after   her   aged 45.
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