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This article investigates the source of the myth that prior to 1753 cohabiting couples would have been protected by a 'common-law marriage'. It shows that neither the term nor the concept existed at the time and traces modern misunderstandings to the early nineteenth century. It goes on to suggest that the widespread but mistaken belief among modern cohabitants in the existence of 'common-law marriage' must also be of recent origin.
Formerly entitled the Ancillary Relief Handbook this is the first resort for thousands of...