At common law a married woman may acquire contractual rights by reason of personal services rendered by her, or by reason of the assignment or execution to her of a chose in action, such as a bond or note.75 The husband may reduce to his possession the rights so accruing to his wife; but, unless he does this by some act indicating an intention to deal with them as his own, they do not pass, like other personalty of the wife, into the estate of the husband, but survive to the wife if she outlives him, or pass to her personal representatives if she dies in his lifetime.
69 Meyer v. Haworth, 8 Adol. & E. 467. See "Husband and Wife; Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 65-67; Cent. Dig. §§ 285-289.
70 Faithorne v. Blaquire, 6 Maule & S. 73; Lewis v. Lee, 3 Barn. & C. 291. Contra, Dean v. Richmond, 5 Pick. (Mass.) 461; Pierce v. Burnham. 4 Metc. (Mass.) 303. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) §§ 65-67; Cent. Dig. §§ 285-289.
71 Virginia-Carolina Chemical Co. v. Fisher, 58 Fla. 377, 50 South. 504. See "Husband and Wife,"Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 89; Cent. Dig. §§ 358-861; "Contracts," Cent. Dig. §§ 865, 866.
72 Thompson v. Minnich,'227 I11. 430, 81 N. E. 336; Warner v. Warner, 235 I11. 448, 85 N. E. 630; Lyell v. Walbach, 113 Md. 574, 77 Atl. 1111, 33 L. R. A, (N. S.) 741. See "Husband and Wife." Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 89; Cent. Dig. §§ 858-861.
73 Leake, Cont. 235; Liverpool Adelphi Loan Ass'n v. Fairhurst, 9 Exch. 422; Wright v. Leonard, 11 C. B. (N. S.) 258. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 102; Cent. Dig. §§ 878-380.
74 Cannam v. Farmer, 3 Exch. 608; Liverpool Adelphi Loan Ass'n v. Fairhurst, 9 Exch. 422; Wright v. Leonard, 11 C. B. (N. S.) 258. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 102; Cent. Dig. §§ 878-880.
75 Stevens v. Beals, 10 Cush. (Mass.) 291, 57 Am. Dec. 108; Cobb v. Duke, 56 Miss. 60, 72 Am. Dec. 157. See "Husband and Wife," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 7.9; Cent. Dig. §§ 327-329.
The wife of a man who was civilly dead by reason of his being under conviction of a felony had the same capacity to contract as a feme sole.78 The old common-law doctrine of civil death from conviction of a felony, however, is not recognized in this country; but there are, in some states, statutes declaring that a man who is under a sentence of imprisonment in the penitentiary for life shall be deemed civilly dead.77
Where, however, a husband deserts his wife absolutely and completely, and leaves the state, it is generally held in this country that the wife may contract and sue and be sued as a feme sole.78 At common law, however, such desertion must be more than a mere separation of the husband from his wife - it must be a voluntary abandonment of her, with intent to renounce the marital relation, so far as he can do so, and to leave his wife to act as a feme sole.7'