Emily McArthur was a wealthy woman when she became her mother and brother’s sole beneficiary in 1859. With no immediate family left she was very much alone? In Victorian times was not usual then for women to own property or make their own financial decisions. Ironically this rule can be disproved by both her mother and grandmother. They were in the slightly better position of knowing their late husbands trade well enough to continue in their footsteps. When Emily lost her family, they had long left the printing business and lived off a trust fund.
Emily may have been content to her life out independently in a comfortable position but, given the times it may have been difficult socially. In 1862 at the age of 35 she walked up the isle with the widowed Rev William John Burke, twenty two years her senior. The marriage was the result of a match.
With her fortune alone Emily McArthur would have been a good catch for anyone. For Rev William John Burke, she would have been heaven sent. Rev Burke, who was widowed with a growing son and was bankrupt.
Emily’s trustees, Charles Knox, Rev McIntire and Michael Kennedy saw to it that Emily’s interests were safeguarded, and a marriage settlement was drawn up to insure that she did not loose her fortune to a man in a dire financial state. Her trustees need not have worried, as Rev Burke and Emily McArthur’s marriage lasted for over twenty years until they died, within a few months of one another.