Early modern women are often categorized by historians in relation to their marital status—whether they appeared as single, married, or widowed women. These identifications reflected the effects of marriage on women's legal and social status. Focusing on the records of the burgh and commissary courts of seventeenth-century Glasgow, this article shows how Scottish women's legal status existed instead on a “marital spectrum,” including liminal phases prior to the formation of marriage as well as overlapping phases following remarriage after the death of a spouse. This spectrum situates women's legal claims in relation to their marital career, allowing for a closer reading of women's legal activities. Court clerks working in Glasgow documented women's varied marital, familial, and legal identities within the court records, a Scottish practice that can shed new light on how women negotiated the boundaries of justice in early modern courts of law.
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