… which happens to be one of the earliest ever published in Britain, and made me drool when I found it, and found out I could have a copy.
Chambers’ Cyclopaedia was printed in 1728, ran to over 2000 pages, and was contained in two volumes. This edition still exists today, online and for free at the very useful Archive.org. (Hint, if you want it all, you will need to download the two volumes separately. There are also two supplemental volumes.)
A quick snap of an entry to be found here:
DOWER or DOWRY: … “is properly the Money, or Fortune, which the Wife brings her Husband in Marriage, to have the Use of it, during her Marriage, towards supporting the Charge thereof.”
But don’t think marriage comes cheap. At least not in early 18th century England. The author next gives us an idea of what’s expected.
“At present, in Germany, the Women of Quality have but very moderate Fortunes. For Instance, the Princesses of the Electoral House of Saxony have only 30000 Crowns: … those of Brunswic[k] and Baden, only 1500 Florins; besides a Sum for Cloaths, Toys, and Equipages.”
So there you have it, ladies! Pay your expenses up front. And remember to save enough for your toys.