Petition #11684705


The petitioners seek an amendment to the law regulating the widow's dower rights to law. They represent that, as the law stands, it unjustly forces the husband and children of a remarried widow to raise and provide for the support of slaves inherited by dower only to see those slaves, upon the widow's death, devised by inheritance to her children from the first marriage. This is especially onerous, the petitioners notes, if, as in their case, the inherited slaves are young and will not be ready to generate income for many years, perhaps not until the widow's death when the slaves would be "wrested from them." This situation would mean that the widow's second family would incur all the expenses and the benefits reaped by the children of her first marriage. The petitioners deem this situation extremely unfair and want redress. A letter written by the widow's second husband, Samuel Ruckle, a related document, provides details on the petitioners' case. Ruckle explains that his wife received two old slaves in dower, for whom he had to pay $500 in doctor's bills. Later, when the estate of his wife's first husband, W. A. Butler, was divided, she also received, as her third of the inheritance, two women with fourteen children between them. Samuel Ruckle complains that he does not even know when the two slave women "are going to stop" having more children. He fears that all the money he is pouring into the raising of these two slave families will be for the sole benefit of his wife's child from her first marriage, not for his family.

Result: Referred to committee for courts of justice.

3 people are documented within petition 11684705

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Citation information

Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia