The deed of a married woman is void : Matthews v. Puffer, 19 N. H. 448; Concord v. Bellis, 10 Cush. 276; Chandler v. McKinney, 6 Mich. 217; Clyde v. Keister, 1 Grant, 465; 32 Pa. St. 85. A woman after her coverture ceases cannot make a valid legal promise to pay a debt which she incurred during coverture : Goulding v. Davidson, 28 Barb. 438.-S.
Another case is where the husband is a foreigner belonging to a country at war with Great Britain. *In such case, as he cannot lawfully contract or sue in England, it seems to be admitted that his wife may do so as if she were unmarried (n).1
(n) Barden v. Keverberg, 2 M. & W*. 61; see De Wahl v. Braune, 25 L. J. (Ex.) 343; 1H.&N. 178.
1 Derry v. Duchess of Mazarine, 1 Raym. 147. This exception, however, to the general rule which denies the efficacy of the contracts of married women, is not confined merely to the case of the wife of an alien enemy, nor, indeed, as it would seem by the late authorities, at least in this country, to the case of an alien at all. Some distinctions were at one time taken, which have not latterly been recognised. Thus it has been held that where the husband was a foreigner, and had never been in the country, the wife could sue and be sued on her contracts: Walford v. Duchess of Pienne, 2 Esp. 554; De Gaillon v. L'Aigle, 1 B. & P. 357; Gregory v. Paul, 15 Mass. 30; Robinson v. Reynolds, 1 Aik. 174; but not where the husband had ever resided in the country: Kay v. Duchess of Pienne, 3 Campb. 123; or was a natural born subject, though he might have deserted her and resided abroad for years : De Gaillon v. L'Aigle, Boggett v. Frier, 11 East, 301; Franks v. Duchess of Pienne, 2 Esp. 587. The distinction thus taken between an alien and a subject seems to have proceeded on the supposition that in the case of the latter, there might be an animus revertendi, but the later cases have judiciously neglected such a distinction, and it is now well settled, at least in this country, that where the wife has been left by her husband-has traded as a feme sole-and has obtained credit as such, she is liable for her debts, and on the other hand may acquire property of her own : Rhea v. Rhenner, 1 Pet. 105; Bean v. Morgan, 4 M'Cord, 148; Starret v. Wynn, 17 S. & R. 133; Gregory v. Pierce, 4 Mete. 478; Arthur v. Broadnax, 3 Ala. 557; James v. Stewart, 9 lb. 855; and it perhaps would not be inconsistent with reason to lay down as a rule, that where the wife has obtained credit as a feme sole, and her husband is absent at the time of the contract, and until and at the time of the bringing of the suit, a recovery may be had against her. It is doubtful, however, whether the English cases to any extent abandoned the distinctions formerly taken by them, as in Barden v. Keverberg, cited by the lecturer, Mr. Baron Parke said that a party seeking to make a wife liable, "must make out that the husband was an alien, that he was resident abroad, and never in this country, and that the defendant represented herself as a feme sole, or that the plaintiff dealt with her believing her to be so."-R.
By the custom of the city of London, a married woman is allowed to be a trader in her individual capacity, and may sue alone in the city courts on contracts made by her in the course of such trade; but it would seem that, even in this case, if she had brought an action in the Courts at Westminster, it would have been necessary to make her husband a party to it.1 This subject is learnedly discussed in Beard v. Webb (6).
Even if a married woman has been divorced a mensa et thoro. which before the stat. 20 & 21 Vict., c. 85, s. 7 legalised the separation of the parties, but left the marriage bond unsevered, the same rule applied. Now, however, instead of a divorce a mensa et thoro, a decree for a judicial separation is pronounced in those cases in which the limited divorce before mentioned was obtainable, and has the same consequences (p); but in ad(o) 2 B. & P. 93.
(p) By 41 Vict., c. 19, s. 4, if a husband shall be convicted summarily or otherwise of an aggravated assault as there defined, upon his wife, the Court or magistrate before whom he shall be so convicted may, if satisfied that the future safety of the wife is in peril, order that the wife shall be no longer bound to cohabit with her husband, and such order shall have the force and effect in all respects of a decree of judicial separation, on the ground of cruelty.
1 In Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and perhaps other States, the custom of London as to feme sole traders has been imitated by statutory enactments: see Burk v. Winkle, 2 S. & R. 189; Jacobs v. Featherstone, 6 W. & S. 346; Hobart v. Lemon, 3 Rich. 131; Blythwood v. Everingham, lb. 285.-R.
Where the wife has been a long time absolutely deserted by her husband, and left wholly to her own means of support, she is free to act as a feme sole: Smith v. Silence, 4 Iowa, 321. Living apart from the husband does not affect the disabilities of a feme covert: High v. Worley, 33 Ala. 196; and see Pres-cott v. Fisher, 22 111. 390; Ayer v. Warren, 47 Me. 217.-s.
Dition *to these the wife is, while the separation continues, to be considered a feme sole, and may contract as such. Upon such contracts her husband is not liable; unless upon the separation alimony shall have been decreed to her, in which case, if it be not duly paid, he remains liable for necessaries supplied for her use (s. 26). Moreover a wife deserted by her husband may obtain from the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, in the Metropolitan District from a Police Magistrate, or in the country from two Justices, an order to protect any property which, after her desertion, she may acquire by her own industry, or may become possessed of; and she is during the continuance of the order, and during her desertion, in the like position in regard to property and contracts, suing and being sued, as if she had obtained a decree of judicial separation (s. 21).