The Progression of Women's Rights

A historical timeline of the law regarding a woman's right to marry, divorce, and have primary custody of her children.


Chronological table

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6
Date Event Created by Associated Places

Marriage Act 1753

The Marriage Act of 1753 was also called "An Act for the Better Preventing of Clandestine Marriage" and Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act. This required weddings to take place in an approved church or chapel. This act also set aside common law marriages. 

Katherine Muck

Marriage Act 1836

The Marriage Act 1836 legalized civil marriages in England and Wales. This meant that religious nonconformists and Catholics could marry in legally registered buildings or their place of worship.

Katherine Muck

Punishment of Incest Act 1908

This act defined incest as illegal. Incest was defined as sexual relations between a person and their grandchild, child, sibling (including half-siblings), or parents.

Katherine Muck

Adoption of Children Act

Made adoption in England a legal process.

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Legitimacy Act of 1926

This act allowed children born outside of marriage to be legitimized (following a marriage of the parents). Neither parent could be married to a third party at the time of birth. This act was modified in 1959 extending it to parents who were married to a third party at the time of birth.

Katherine Muck

Divorce Reform Act

Allowed couples to divorce if they had been separated for 2 years.

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