An 18th Century Prenuptial Agreement

As thoughts about love and companionship are on our minds this Valentine’s Day, you may be interested in reading this Colonial period prenuptial agreement written by Schwenkfelder immigrant Christopher Schultz (1718-1789) in 1744. The document in our archive collection is too fragile to exhibit, but a larger image is on display as part of The Legacy of Christopher Schultz exhibit closing at the end of this month. He signed this document three days before his wedding to Rosina Yeakel on October 9, 1744. The original document is in the German script. The image below shows one side of the original two sided document. We have provided a working English translation for you below to aid in understanding the document. (Please note, if you need an official translation to cite, we strongly urge you to contact us.)

Christopher Schultz 1744 Collection of the Schwenkfelder Library & Heritage Center

October 6, 1744
God with us in grace.
In the name of the Holy Trinity be our beginning, middle, and end.

The following presents an appropriate notice and attestation of my will, in view of the fact that, namely, I, Christoph Scholtz, in love with and betrothed to the now living youngest daughter of the late Balthasar Yeakel of Ober Harpersdorf, Silesia, by name, Rosina Yeakel, with consent of the nearest relatives on both sides and of the mother, am about to begin a Christian (and as I hope) honourable matrimonial undertaking. And although I purposed (with divine help and support) in the presence of us both to conduct myself as is becoming for a fiance and husband toward his most beloved, namely, to provide for, to protect, and to show her all love and faithfulness, in like manner I also hope and confidently expect such from her.

But we are weak and mortal and do not know how far we may bring our life in our purposed state. Should it happen that God in His wise counsel and will, should in a short time call me from this world, I herewith let it be known and affirm, also by consent of my brothers (because they accept her as a sister-in-law) what they shall give her as my beloved, according to praiseworthy custom and order, as a dowry, namely, twenty pounds lawful Pennsylvania money. It is my irrevocable will that such be established as a dowry.

I beg of you, my highly esteemed Rosina and fiance, that you be content with this small sum, although we wish that it may not happen. And herewith I commend you and myself into the protection of the Most High.

Your in love united and betrothed friend and fiance,

Christoph Scholtz

Done in Upper Hanover
October 6, 1744
Geo. Scholtz
Melchior Scholtz

The Legacy of Christopher Schultz closes February 29, 2012. Visit our exhibit to learn more about Christopher Schultz and his descendants.

About schwenkfelder

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the history of the Schwenkfelders and the history of southeastern Pennsylvania and the Perkiomen Region. The Heritage Center offers educational programming and tours, exhibits, workshops, and events throughout the year. Our blog is maintained by museum educator, Rebecca Lawrence, SLHC staff and guest bloggers.
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2 Responses to An 18th Century Prenuptial Agreement

  1. Nancy Miller-Baiz says:

    My grandfather’name was Daniel Yeakel Miller and his mother’s name was Emma Yeakel Miller both of Chestbut Hill,PA.I am a decendant of Christofer(sp?) Jaeckel(sp?)(Yeakel).This makes this extra interesting to read! Nancy Miller-Baiz

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