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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

The Dowry

You've heard about dowries.........well, a friend was telling me the other night all about how the Dowry came back was more than just 'money' or valuables being handed on in a marriage.

The daughter of a man with 50 acres of land would be married to a man who had fifty acres of land - and we'll say that 50 was given to his family as her dowry. That 50 could be used to send two children to America/Australia - those two children would send money home - either for the family left behind, or as the fare for other children - or, as the dowry for other children. One of those other children could in turn marry a brother of the woman who had married in to their family - the daughter of the family with 50 acres marrying the son of a man with 50 acres.

There was a bit of shnnanigans that could go on as regards how much land you owned as well. Say you were a farmer with 30 acres and you wanted to marry the daughter of a man with 50 - you had to have fifty as well......

So, you could go to your neighbour and ask him if you could put a gap between his land and yours - and then when the potential father in law came to look at your land, sure you'd walk him through that gap and show him the neighbours land as if it was your own.

Same thing with livestock - it was borrowed from neighbours on the day that the potential in laws would come to walk about. I think, I must have been half listening to the stories!! There seemed to be so much more.

The dowry coming home though, being an investment - that was interesting. Something I'd never heard in the past.

Source: Dr. Jane Lyons

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