The House in the Cemetery Podcast Series

Episode 1: Women's Property and the Limits of Patriarchy

 Hamilton Family Holdings in West Philadelphia at their greatest extent with dates of acquisition. Prepared by J.M. Duffin, Univ. Archives & Records Center, Univ. of Pa., 2012.

Hamilton Family Holdings in West Philadelphia at their greatest extent with dates of acquisition. Prepared by J.M. Duffin, Univ. Archives & Records Center, Univ. of Pa., 2012.

How did the Woodlands estate come to be in the first place? Hamilton family patriarchs participated in, and benefited from, the colonization of indigenous lands. But they also consolidated landed wealth from the women in their lives. Find out more in Women's Property and the Limits of Patriarchy.

What you will discover:

  • The intersection of ideas about property, law, and gender in eighteenth-century Philadelphia
  • The ways women’s property ownership was limited by laws that favored male ownership and patrilineal inheritance.
  • Exceptions and innovations in the practice of property law
  • And, examples of female property ownership within the Hamilton family. In particular, Mary Lillingston Till, Mary Till Hamilton, and Mary Budd Allen

Primary Exposure:
We will explore the Will of Andrew Hamilton II in order to consider the significance of the language used in Wills. A close read of his Will reveals the way in which property laws were intentionally designed to restrict women’s control of property, and by extension increased men’s control of women’s actions, movements, involvements and even their bodies.

Further reading: 
If you are interested in reading more about law and gender in Early America, consider referencing the “Discussion of the Literature” section of Terri L. Snyder’s entry “Women, Race, and the Law in Early America” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, found here.

You may also want to reference J.M. Duffin’s map of Philadelphia in October 1777. You can type “Mary Hamilton” into the owner search to view her property on Third and Walnut. A general search of “Hamilton” will provide descriptions of all of the Hamilton land in Philadelphia in 1777. 

Corrected Hamilton Family Tree.jpg

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About the podcaster: Madison Bastress is a second year graduate student at Villanova University in pursuit of a Master’s degree with a focus in Atlantic World history. Her research interests include spatial history, particularly the construction of place and frontier conflict, as well as eighteenth-century British Atlantic history.

 

This podcast is part of "The House in the Cemetery" project, part of the Villanova Public History Program. More information about this project can be found here.