Margaret McBride’s Parade Street Home: Introducing Historic Pennsylvania Law

It was 1836. My great-great-great-grandmother, Margaret (Jones) McBride, bought real estate on Parade Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. She was a married woman whose husband, Cornelius, was not mentioned in the deed. Nor was her marital status. Welcome to Pennsylvania![1]

While many married women of her era were unable to buy land, Margaret surely took advantage of a Pennsylvania law that addressed when married women could buy and sell real estate.

An Act Concerning Feme-Sole Traders was passed in 1718. It allowed some married women in Pennsylvania certain rights. Those women could buy, sell, and handle household business without the involvement of their husbands. The catch? The law was for the wives of mariners, men whose time on the water made them unable to maintain household affairs. There were provisions for deserted women and wives of disabled men.[2]

That law and Margaret’s purchase suggest possibilities for Cornelius. He was either working on the lakes, had deserted Margaret, or was incapacitated. Other records do not support a desertion. At least two of Margaret’s sons worked on the lakes. Perhaps Cornelius did, if he was not disabled. It is a project that I sporadically work on in my spare time.

Pennsylvania law is why we are here, and I am happy to welcome three Pennsylvania pages to my online law library. These pages contain about 600 links. I stopped gathering when I felt there was a significant collection, but there are more resources out there. I quit paying attention to the number of books before editing, and I added a few books after I was “done.”

How was building Pennsylvania? I sure wish we could safely take vacations!

Enjoy my new Pennsylvania pages. I hope that you make wonderful discoveries. Click the titles below to visit the pages.

Thanks to Judy Russell for answering a few questions, and to Linda McCauley for my updated map.

Happy hunting!

[1] Wallace to McBride, deed, 1836, Erie County, Pennsylvania, deed book J, pp. 160–161; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 12 December 2021), images 428 and 429 of 677, from FHL film no. 8084338.
[2] An Act Concerning Feme-Sole Traders, passed 22 February 1718, in Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: printed by J. Bioren, 1803), pp. 116–117; digital image, Google Books ( : accessed 12 December 2021).
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2 Responses to Margaret McBride’s Parade Street Home: Introducing Historic Pennsylvania Law

  1. Theresa says:

    thank you so much for all your hard work. I will definitely make use of this.

    and thanks to Judy Russell for including an item about this!

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