Part of Frankston’s history is the trail-blazing owner of 5 Golconda Avenue Frankston. Buying property in Australia in 1968 was very different for married or separated women. Back then women were seen as the property of men – chattels. Moreover, women were not considered separate from a man in marriage and almost all their transactional rights were dissolved.
A married woman’s real property rights are derived from two main sources. The first was English common law. The doctrine of unity of spouses controlled a married woman’s rights to real property during her marriage. This doctrine was a rule of law associated with the common law doctrine of coverture. The second source of law was statutory law.
Coverture is the state of being under the protection of one’s husband. The term can also be used to mean marriage. Marriage can then be categorized as a contract between a wife and husband where the wife gives up certain legal powers to the husband in return for being under his protection.
The common law of England and Australia used marriage to create a legal fiction whereby a husband and wife were seen as one person. The coverture meant a married woman was effectively, civilly dead. The laws of coverture affected all public facets of a married woman’s life. A husband and wife’s real property rights were governed by a special type of ownership known as a tenancy by entireties. Where the common land ownership tenancies of today were derived.
These laws directly impacted the courageous owner of 5 Golconda Ave Frankston.
Golconda Avenue Frankston
In 1968 the current lady vendor was separated from her husband and she had four very young children. The mother of four wanted to secure a permanent home for her family. However, coverture meant that this normal aspiration would be extremely difficult to achieve. All of the money she had was in her estranged husband’s bank account – which was the law. Back in 1968 he was ‘legally’ entitled to take that money without penalty as it was considered his. The estranged husband took her savings and her gifted money and left her.
Left to live in a housing commission property with her four children this single mother was motivated to defy the draconian laws – although she didn’t realise that was what she was doing. She began looking at new house and land packages in Frankston and approached every bank for finance but was continuously rejected. The laws and sentiment at that time required a man’s signature. Clearly, she would not ask her soon-to-be ex-husband’s permission or signature as that meant he would legally steal from her again.
There was no recognition in 1968 that the vendor was a school teacher and had a consistent and stable income. All that was considered was that should not be without a man to protect her as she was clearly useless without his guidance – coverture. However, this tenacious lady would not accept the ridiculous. On weekends this lady and her children would visit house and land display developments. She would plan on securing a home and settling down into her new life. On one of her visits to the AV Jennings display village in Frankston, she met Mr Albert Victor Jennings – now Sir Albert Victor Jennings.
Mr Jennings asked her children what they thought of the homes and they were so touched by his interest in their answers. In those days children’s interests and concerns were often dismissed. Mr Jennings’s interest in their opinions back then has had a lasting impact on all the vendor’s family. Mr Jennings considered the woman purchaser courageous and absolutely someone he would help secure a property. Indeed, he informed her he was more comfortable lending money to a woman with four children than a single man.
This woman purchaser bought the land and house package for 5 Golconda Avenue Frankston in 1968. Whilst this was exciting and life-changing it was not the end of her battles. The new vendor still had to contend with the laws of coverture as they extended to many purchases for her new home. From carpets to appliances the woman vendor faced discrimination and anger from business owners. Many businesses inflated the price of their goods as selling to lone women was an enigma. The lady owner needed to ask her male colleagues at work to enter contracts on her behalf as they required a male signatory. Again this lady kept going until she achieved what she set out to do.
The story of this courageous woman needed to be woven into the walls of 5 Golconda Avenue Frankston. History is often a reminder of those who suffered or endured to make it better for us now. The current vendor and Mr Jennings forged great change in just one transaction making this home a very special part of Frankston’s history. We at EWRE are proud and honoured to be another part of this wonderful home’s history.