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Women entered 'tally' arrangement expecting it to lead to marriage. If it did not, women would often try their luck elsewhere. Although estimates vary, common-law marriages normal among poor and constituted about 25% of all couples 1800-1850. Poorest classes often did not make distinction between marriage and cohabitation. Cohabitation was economically flexible some cohabited to guard against economic disaster. If things went wrong they could return to their separate natal homes

Reference: Frost, Ginger S. Living in Sin: Cohabiting as husband and wife in nineteenth-century England (Manchester University Press, 2009)

 

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