A married woman, during the life of her husband could not bind herself by a contract,1 nor by representing herself as unmarried or a widow, render herself by estoppel liable on an agreement.2 If she were liable upon a contract at the time of her marriage the liability upon this contract passed to her husband. Upon such ante-nuptial liabilities, however, the husband could not be sued alone,3 and if the wife died before judgment had been recovered against both, the husband's liability was discharged,4 except so far as he might have assets in his hands as her administrator. If the husband died before judgment had been recovered, the widow was again liable as if she had never been married.6 The capacity of a married woman to acquire rights under a contract, though [united, was not absolutely excluded. Promises for which she rendered personal services were recognized as giving her a contractual right.6 It is true that the husband might reduce this right to possession and thereby acquire the fruits of it himself, but unless he did so the right survived to the wife or, if she died during her husband's life, passed to her representatives.7 A contractual right which a woman had before marriage was dealt with in the same way. It might be reduced to possession by the husband, but in the meantime was regarded as the wife's chose in action and upon her husband's death, or her own, was dealt with accordingly.8
1Com. Dig. Baron & Feme (Q); James v. Fowks, 12 Mod. 101.
2 Cancan v. Farmer, 3 Each. 698; Liverpool etc. Assoc, v. Fairhurat, 9 Exch. 422; Wright v. Leonard, 11 C. B. (N.S.) 258; First Nat. Bank v. Shumard, 91 N. 3. L. 379, 103 Atl. 1001. And see supra, Sec. 245.
3 Garrard v. Guibilei, 13 C. B. (N. S.) 832.
4 Com. Dig. Baron & Feme (C. 2). 5 Woodman c. Chapman, 1 Campb.