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The nearness of a foreign military sometimes constrained a master in a slave sale that otherwise would have divided a family.
In wartime, one side might, possibly falsely, accuse the other of wife sale as a method of spying.
A husband might sell his wife and then go to court seeking compensation for the new man's adultery with the wife.
By one law, adultery was given as a justification for a husband selling his wife into concubinage.
Although the custom had no basis in law and frequently resulted in prosecution, particularly from the mid-19th century onwards, the attitude of the authorities was equivocal. take her for his money paid to her deceased husband's creditors, and sell her to another for his wife and "[Lawson said] you may see men selling their wives as men do horses at a fair, a man being allowed not only to change as often as he pleases but likewise to have as many wives as he is able to maintain." According to George Elliott Howard, as published in 1904, "if dissatisfied with his wife, the young Gallinomero of [California] ... Not long afterwards the father was horrified to learn that the plausible scoundrel had sold his wife as a slave.
At least one early 19th-century magistrate is on record as stating that he did not believe he had the right to prevent wife sales, and there were cases of local Poor Law Commissioners forcing husbands to sell their wives, rather than having to maintain the family in workhouses. laden with her husband's debts, she seems to have some of the attributes of a chattel, although also a wife. may 'strike a bargain with another man' and sell her 'for a few strings of shell-money. He at once went South and after great exertion and much expense, he succeeded in bringing back to his house the unhappy woman, the victim of brutal treachery." According to her, August said, "his white folks ...
A wife could also be treated as revenue and seized by the local government because a man had died leaving no heirs.