Many of the families in the 19th century were matriarchal because of the long absences of the men. This meant that the women had to head the household and often, if widowed had financial responsibility in part, or sole ownership of a vessel. Therefore the women were often the business brain as well as the emotional heart of a family. As early as the 1770’s, Jane Pugh owned half of the sloop Providence with Thomas Pryce owning the other half. In 1786 she bequeathed her share to John Rees, the regular skipper. Did John Rees buy out Thomas Pryse? as the latter seems only to be an investor, where Rees is the master; in the 1841 census a Mary Rees b.1770, is listed as a widow and ship owner with three sons David, Richard and William at sea. After the death of Captain Evan Jenkins, the sloop Pricilla, built at Ynyslas in 1845, belonged to his widow Anne, who ran it for a number of years before it was lost with all hands off Aberdaron in 1873. In 1871 Ann Jenkins became sole owner of the barque Dorothy after her husband, Captain Lewis Jenkins, died. She appointed her thirty-two year old nephew, Captain John Jones, to run the vessel for her as he was an accomplished mariner who had previously commanded the schooner Glad Tidings and the barque Alice. Enoch James 1787-1856, bequeathed the sloop Mary and Ellen to his wife Mary 1789-1866. Here is part of the will:
.....64 shares in the vessel Mary and Ellen, also a house called White Lion and garden behind the house, also all the outhouses and furniture for the term of her natural life, and after her demise all mentioned to my three daughters Margaret Jones, Mary Jenkins and Ellen Williams, with the exception that part of the household furniture bought by myself and not by my wife I give to my son Richard immediately after decease of my wife. I give to daughter Margaret the house adjoining this house, now occupied by her and her husband Richard. I give daughter Mary the house adjoining Margaret's now occupied by her and her husband Richard. To my son Enoch the house in which he now resides and to my other son Richard a plot of ground adjoining Enoch's house so that he may build a house there.
Obviously Enoch James the Elder's maritime affairs had made him prosperous.
In the ten years after Captain James’ death his widow successfully ran the sloop Mary and Ellen and eventually sold it. At the same time she managed to acquire the schooner Resolute, which she in turn left to her grandson. Some mariners widows were less fortunate such as Ann Barrow b.1775, who was listed as a widow and a pauper in the 1841 and 1851 censuses.