Photo of Professor Rebecca Probert

Professor Rebecca Probert

Professor of Law

Amory 242

Rebecca Probert joined Exeter Law School in April 2017. She has a particular interest in family law and legal history.

She has written on all aspects of modern family law (Cretney and Probert’s Family Law (Sweet & Maxwell, 9th ed, 2015, with Maebh Harding); IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 3nd edition, 2012) and (with Jonathan Herring and Stephen Gilmore) Great Debates in Family Law, (Palgrave, 2nd ed 2015), and has edited a number of collections of essays (Marriage Rites and Rights (Hart, 2015), co-edited with Joanna Miles and Perveez Mody; Fifty years in Family Law: Essays for Stephen Cretney (Intersentia, 2012), co-edited with Chris Barton; Landmark Cases in Family Law (Hart, 2011), co-edited with Stephen Gilmore and Jonathan Herring; Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets (Hart, 2009), co-edited with Joanna Miles; Responsible Parents and Parental Responsibility (Hart, 2009), co-edited with Jonathan Herring and Stephen Gilmore; Family Life and the Law: Under One Roof (Ashgate, 2007)).

However, her main research interests lie in the overlapping areas of marriage, cohabitation, bigamy and divorce. Her first monograph Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Reassessment (Cambridge University Press, 2009) looks at how couples married in eighteenth-century England (shattering a few myths about common-law marriage, broomstick weddings and hand-fasting along the way), while The Rights and Wrongs of Royal Marriage: How the law has led to heartbreak, farce and confusion and why it must be changed (Takeaway, 2011) examines the special rules that apply to members of the Royal family. The Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600-2010 (Cambridge University Press, 2012) demonstrated the rarity of cohabitation in earlier centuries and how  the common-law marriage myth only emerged in the 1970s.

Research interests

Publications

Books

Probert R, Snape J (eds) (2018) A Cultural History of Law in the Age of Enlightenment (Hart, forthcoming).
Probert R, Harding M (2016) IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 5th edition).
Miles J, Mody P, Probert R (eds) (2015) Marriage Rites and Rights (Oxford: Hart).
Probert R (2015) Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved? The Family Historian’s Guide to Marital Breakdown, Separation, Widowhood, and Remarriage: from 1600 to the 1970s (Kenilworth: Takeaway).
Probert R, Harding M (2015) Cretney and Probert’s Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 9th ed).
Probert R, Harding M (2015) IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 4th edition).
Probert R (ed) (2014) Catherine Exley’s Diary: The Life and Times of a Camp-follower in the Peninsular War (Kenilworth: Brandram).
Herring J, Probert R, Gilmore S (2015) Great Debates in Family Law (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2nd ed).
Probert R (ed) (2014) Cohabitation and Non-Marital Births in England and Wales, 1600-2012 (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
Probert R, Bailey J, Shaffer, J (2013) A Noble Affair: The Remarkable True Story of the Runaway Wife, the Bigamous Earl, and the Farmer’s Daughter (Kenilworth: Takeaway).
Probert R (2013) IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 3nd edition).
Probert R (2012) Cretney and Probert’s Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 8th ed).
Herring J, Probert R, Gilmore S (2012) Great Debates in Family Law (Basingstoke: Palgrave).
Probert R (2012) IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 2nd edition).
Probert R (2012) Marriage Law for Genealogists: The Definitive Guide (Kenilworth: Takeaway).
Probert R (2012) The Changing Legal Regulation of Cohabitation: From Fornicators to Family, 1600-2010 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Probert R (2011) The Rights and Wrongs of Royal Marriage: How the law has led to heartbreak, farce and confusion and why it must be changed (Kenilworth: Takeaway).
Probert R, Kingston A (eds) (2012) Tackling Domestic Violence (Kenilworth: Takeaway).
Probert R, Barton C (eds) (2012) Fifty years in Family Law: Essays for Stephen Cretney (Antwerp/Cambridge: Intersentia).
Gilmore S, Herring J, Probert R (eds) (2011) Landmark Cases in Family Law (Oxford: Hart).
Probert R (2011) IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer, 2011).
Probert R (ed) (2010) Optimistic Objectives (Kenilworth: Takeaway).
Miles J, Probert R (eds) (2009) Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets (Oxford: Hart).
Probert R, Gilmore S, Herring J (eds) (2009) Responsible Parents and Parental Responsibility (Oxford: Hart).
Probert R (2009) Cretney and Probert’s Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 7th ed).
Probert R (2009) Marriage Law and Practice in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Reassessment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Masson J. Bailey-Harris R, Probert R (2008) Cretney’s Principles of Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 8th ed).
Probert R (2008) IEL Family and Succession Law: England and Wales 37 (Kluwer).
Probert R (2007) Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell).
Probert R (ed) (2007) Family Life and the Law: Under One Roof (Aldershot: Ashgate).
Probert R (2006) Cretney’s Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 6th ed).
Probert R (2003) Cretney’s Family Law (London: Sweet & Maxwell, 5th ed).

Chapters

Probert R (2018) ‘Codes’ in R. Probert and J. Snape (eds) A Cultural History of Law in the Age of Enlightenment (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).
Probert R (2017) ‘English exports: invoking the common law of marriage across the Empire’ in J. Moses (ed), Marriage, Law and Modernity: Global Histories (Bloomsbury, forthcoming). 
Probert R (2017) ‘Undoing the marriage: the resort to annulment’ in K. Leydecker and J. Di Placidi (eds) After Marriage in the Long Eighteenth Century: Literature, Law and Society (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming).
Probert R (2016) ‘Disquieting thoughts: who will benefit when we are gone?’ in B. Häcker and C. Mitchell (eds), Current Issues in Succession Law (Oxford: Hart), pp 31-49.
Probert R (2015) ‘Implied trusts and the family home’, in J. Garton et al, Moffat’s Trusts Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 6th ed).
Probert R (2015) ‘From this Day Forward? Pre-marital Cohabitation and the Rite of Marriage from the 1960s to the Present Day’ in J. Miles, P. Mody and R. Probert (eds), Marriage Rites and Rights (Oxford: Hart), pp. 57-76.
Probert R (2014) ‘The context of illegitimacy from the 1920s to the 1960s’ in R. Probert (ed), Cohabitation and Non-Marital Births in England and Wales, 1600-2012 (Basingstoke: Palgrave), pp. 145-57.
Probert R (2014) ‘Freedom of testation in Victorian England’ in K. Boehm, A. Farkas and A. Zwierlein (eds), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Ageing in Nineteenth-Century Culture (Abingdon: Routledge), pp. 115-31. 
Probert R (2013) ‘Family Law Reform and the Women’s Movement in England and Wales, 1830-1914’ in S. Meder and C.-E. Mecke (eds), Family Law in Early Women’s Rights Debates (Vienna: Böhlau Verlag), pp. 170-199.
Probert R (2012) ‘Marriage at the Crossroads in England and Wales’ in M. Garrison and E. Scott (eds), Marriage at the Crossroads (Cambridge University Press), pp 73-86.
Probert R (2012) ‘The Treatment of Cohabitants in England and Wales: Autonomy or Imposition?’ in P. Verbeke (ed.), Confronting the Frontiers of Family and Succession Law: Liber Amicorum Prof. Pintens (Antwerp/Cambridge: Intersentia), pp 1131-1146.
Probert R (2012) ‘Civil Rites’ in R. Probert and C. Barton (eds), Fifty years in Family Law: Essays for Stephen Cretney (Antwerp/Cambridge: Intersentia,), pp 121-132.
Probert R (2012) ‘Sir William Scott and the Law of Marriage’ in P. Brand and J. Getzler (eds), Judges and Judging in the History of the Common Law and Civil Law: From Antiquity to Modern Times (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp 83-101.
Probert R (2011) ‘Recording births: from the Reformation to the Welfare Reform Act’ in Fatemeh Ebtehaj, Jonathan Herring, Martin H. Johnson, and Martin Richards (eds), Birth Rites and Rights (Oxford: Hart), pp 171-185.
Probert R (2011) ‘The Roos case and modern family law’ in S. Gilmore, J. Herring and R. Probert (eds), Landmarks in Family Law (Oxford: Hart), pp 13-26.
Gilmore S, Herring J, Probert R (2011) ‘Introduction: A Journey through the Landmark Cases of Family Law’ in S. Gilmore, J. Herring and R. Probert (eds), Landmarks in Family Law (Oxford: Hart), pp 1-11.
Probert R (2010) ‘Cohabitation: Current Legal Solutions’ in C. O’Cinneide (ed.), Current Legal Problems: Volume 62 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), pp 316-345.
Probert R, Gilmore S, Herring J (2010) ‘A More Principled Approach to Parental Responsibility in England and Wales?’ in J. Mair and E. Örücü (eds), Juxtaposing Legal Systems and The Principles of European Family Law: Parental Responsibility (Antwerpen: Intersentia), pp 213-231. 
Miles J, Probert R (2009) ‘Sharing lives, dividing assets: legal principles and real life’ in Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets (Oxford: Hart), pp 3-24.
Probert R (2009) ‘Implied trusts and the family home’, ch 12 in G. Moffat, Trusts Law: Text, Cases and Materials (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 5th ed), pp 604-68.
Probert R (2009) ‘Looking back on the overlooked: cohabitants and the law 1857-2007’ in N. Lowe and G. Douglas (eds), The Continuing Evolution of Family Law (Bristol: Jordan Publishing Limited), pp 57-83.
Probert R, Gilmore S, Herring J (2009) ‘Introduction: Parental Responsibility: law, issues and themes’ in R. Probert, J. Herring and S. Gilmore (eds), Responsible Parents and Parental Responsibility (Oxford: Hart), pp 1-20 (with S. Gilmore and J. Herring).
Probert R (2009) ‘Parental responsibility and children’s partnership choices’, in R. Probert, J. Herring and S. Gilmore (eds), Responsible Parents and Parental Responsibility (Oxford: Hart), pp 237-54.
Probert R (2007) ‘(Mis)interpreting the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996’ in M. Dixon and G. Griffiths (eds), New Twists in the Tale: Contemporary Perspectives in Property, Equity and Trusts (Oxford: OUP), pp 57-75.
Probert R (2007) ‘Under one roof: Law’s interactions with family life’ in R. Probert (ed.), Family Life and the Law: Under One Roof (Aldershot: Ashgate), pp 1-7.
Probert R (2007) ‘The security of the home and the home as security’ in R. Probert (ed.), Family Life and the Law: Under One Roof (Aldershot: Ashgate), pp 27-39.
Probert R (2007) ‘England and Wales Juxtaposed to the European Principles of Family Law’ in J. Mair and E. Örücü (eds), Juxtaposing Legal Systems and The Principles of European Family Law: Divorce and Maintenance (Antwerpen: Intersentia), pp 55-74.
Probert R (2003) ‘Family law and property law: competing spheres in the regulation of the family home?’ pp. 37-52 in A. Hudson (ed.), New Perspectives on Family Law, Human Rights and the Home (London: Cavendish Publishing), pp 37-52.

Articles 

Probert R (2013) ‘The evolving concept of non-marriage’ (2013) 25 Child and Family Law Quarterly 314-35.
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L (2013) ‘Westmorland Weddings: A Study of the 1787 Census’ 16 Family and Community History 32-44.
Probert R (2012) ‘Carry On Up the Aisle!’ 6 Law and Humanities 41-56.
Probert R (2009) ‘Control over Marriage in England and Wales, 1753-1823: The Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753 in Context’ 27 Law and History Review 413-450.
Probert R (2008) ‘R v Millis reconsidered: binding contracts and bigamous marriages’ 28 Legal Studies 337-355.
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L (2008) ‘The Impact of the Clandestine Marriages Act: Three Case-studies in Conformity’ 23 Continuity and Change 309-330.
Probert R (2008) ‘Examining law through the lens of literature: the formation of marriage in eighteenth-century England’ 2 Law and Humanities 29-48.
Probert R (2008) ‘Common law marriage: myths and misunderstandings’ 20 Child and Family Law Quarterly 1-22.
Probert R (2007) ‘Hyde v Hyde: defining or defending Marriage?’ 19 Child and Family Law Quarterly 322-336.
Probert R (2005) ‘The wedding of the Prince of Wales: Royal Privileges and Human Rights’ 17 Child and Family Law Quarterly 363-382.
Probert R (2005) ‘Chinese Whispers and Welsh Weddings’ 20 Continuity and Change 211-228.
Probert R (2005) ‘“Unmarried Wives” in War and Peace’ (2005) 17 Child and Family Law Quarterly 1-12.
Probert R (2005) ‘The Impact of the Marriage Act of 1753: Was it Really “A Most Cruel Law for the Fair Sex”?’ 38 Eighteenth-Century Studies 247-62.
Probert R (2004) ‘Cohabitation Contracts and Swedish Sex Slaves’ 16 Child and Family Law Quarterly 453-64.
Probert R (2004) ‘Families, assisted reproduction and the law’ 16 Child and Family Law Quarterly 273-288.
Probert R (2004) ‘Cohabitation in Twentieth Century England and Wales: Law and Policy’ 26 Law and Policy 13-32.
Barlow A, Probert R (2004) ‘Regulating Marriage and Cohabitation: Changing Family Values and Policies in Europe and North America – An Introductory Critique’ 26 Law and Policy 1-11.
Probert R (2002) ‘The Judicial Interpretation of Lord Hardwicke’s Act of 1753’ 23 Journal of Legal History 129-151.
Probert R (2002) ‘When are we married? Void, non-existent and presumed marriages’ 22 Legal Studies 398-419.
Probert R (2001) ‘Trusts and the Modern Woman: Establishing an Interest in the Family Home’ 13 Child and Family Law Quarterly 275-286.
Probert R (2001) ‘From Lack of Status to Contract: Assessing the French Pacte Civil de Solidarité’ 23 Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 257-269.
Barlow A, Probert R (2000) ‘Displacing Marriage: Diversification and Harmonisation Within Europe’ 12 Child and Family Law Quarterly 153-165.
Barlow A, Probert R (2000) ‘Cohabitants and the law: recent European reforms’ 2 Deutsches und Europäisches FamilienRecht 76-81.
Barlow A, Probert R (1999) ‘Addressing the Legal Status of Cohabitation in Britain and France: Plus ça change…?  3 Web Journal of Current Legal Issues.
Probert R (1999) ‘The Controversy of Equality and the Matrimonial Causes Act 1923’ 11 Child and Family Law Quarterly 33-42.
Probert R (1999) ‘The Double Standard of Morality in the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act 1857’ 28 Anglo-American Law Review 73-86.

Shorter articles and notes

Probert R (2017) ‘Marriage Material’ (Summer) Who Do You Think You Are?, 66-70.
Probert R (2015) ‘Cohabitation and marriage in England and Wales’ 4(1) Families, Relationships and Society 157-162.
Probert R (2014) “Focus on: Marriage Records” (December) Who Do You Think You Are?, 54-58.
Probert R (2013) ‘For better or for worse? Encouraging marriage through the tax system’ Family Law 285-89.
Probert R (2012) ‘10 Marriage Myths Debunked’ (Christmas) Who Do You Think You Are?, 27-32.
Probert R (2012) ‘“A Banbury Story”: cohabitation and marriage among the Victorian poor in ‘notorious Neithrop’ 19(1) Cake and Cockhorse 2-17 (winner of the British Association for Local History’s Publication Award for 2014). 
Probert R (2012) ‘Living in sin?’ 13(10) BBC History Magazine 40-43.
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L, Harwood, J (2012) ‘Identical addresses at marriage and pre-marital cohabitation: a reassessment of the evidence’ Family Law 1116-18.
Probert R (2011) ‘The evolution of the common-law marriage myth’ Family Law 283-8.
Probert R, Barton C (2011) ‘Family law, its history, and its “historians”’ Family Law 173-5 (with Chris Barton).
Probert R (2011) ‘For richer, for poorer – but how does one find out which?’ 127 Law Quarterly Review 27-31.
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L (2009) ‘Double Marriages of Catholics: A Footnote’ 13 Catholic Ancestor 341-43 (with Liam D’Arcy Brown).
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L (2009) ‘The Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753 in action: investigating a contemporary complaint’ 83 Local Population Studies 66-69 (with Liam D’Arcy Brown).
Probert R (2009) ‘The Cohabitation Bill’ Family Law 150-3.
Probert R (2008) ‘Hanging on the telephone: KC, NNC v City of Westminster Social & Community Services Department, IC (a protected party, by his litigation friend the Official Solicitor)’ 20 Child and Family Law Quarterly 395-407.
Probert R (2008) ‘Catholic marriages in the Church of England’ 12 Catholic Ancestor 144-9.
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L (2008) ‘Catholic marriages 1754-1836: religious observance and legal conformity’ (2008) 12 Catholic Ancestor 79-84.
Probert R (2008) ‘Cohabiting Couples and the Law – Past, Present and Future’ 74 Amicus Curiae 1.
Probert R, D’Arcy-Brown, L (2008) ‘Catholics and the Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753’ (2008) Local Population Studies 78-82. 
Probert R (2007) ‘Equality in the family home?: Stack v Dowden’ 15 Feminist Legal Studies 341-53.
Probert R (2007) ‘Cohabitants and Joint Ownership: The Implications of Stack v Dowden Family Law 924-929.
Probert R (2007) ‘Why do couples still believe in common law marriage?’ Family Law 403-406.
Probert R (2006) ‘Cohabitation: Contributions and Sacrifices’ Family Law 1060-1064.
Probert R (2005) ‘Same-sex couples and the marriage model: Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza’ 13 Feminist Legal Studies 135-143.
Probert R (2005) ‘How would Corbett v Corbett be decided today?’ Family Law 382-385.
Probert R (2005) ‘Land, law and ex-lovers: Cox v Jones’ 69 The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 168-73.
Probert R (2004) ‘Family law – a modern concept?’ Family Law 901-5.
Probert R (2004) ‘Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act 250 years on: vital change?’ Family Law 583-9.
Probert R (2003) ‘The right to marry and the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998’ International Family Law 29-32.
Probert R (2003) ‘Human rights and functional family law: new rights for same-sex couples’ (2002) New Law Journal 1801-2.
Probert R (2003) ‘A long-awaited paper – Sharing Homes’ [2002] Family Law 834-7.
Probert R (2003) ‘Creditors and section 15 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996: first among equals?’ [2002] The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer 61-7.
Probert R (2003) ‘Cohabitants and the family home: identifying the problem’ [2000] Family Law 925-8.
Probert R (2000) ‘Something Old, Something New and Something Borrowed: Reform of the Law Relating to the Family Home’ 22(1) Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 115-20.
Barlow A, Probert R (2000) ‘Le Pacs est arrive: France embraces its new style family’ International Family Law 182-4.
Probert R (1999) ‘Home-sharing: Widening the Debate’ 29 Family Law 153-5.
Barlow A, Probert R (1999) ‘Cohabitants: A Survey of European Reforms’ New Law Journal 1738, 1740.
Barlow A, Probert R (1999) ‘Reforming the Rights of Cohabitants – Lessons from across the Channel’ 29 Family Law 477-9.

Biography

Rebecca Probert read jurisprudence at Oxford and then worked as a Research Assistant at the Law Commission for two years before studying for an LLM at University College, London. She subsequently taught at the Universities of Aberystwyth (1997-99), Sussex (1999-2002) and Warwick (2002-17) before joining Exeter Law School in April 2017.

In 2015 she was seconded to the Law Commission to work on their scoping paper, Getting Married.