Under the Old RoofUnder the Old Roof by Hesba Stretton.


When Richard, Abigail's husband, died she was left with her son, Gideon. She had worked hard to repurchase the house of her father, the "old roof." When Dick, her stepson, came home he tried to take the house away from Abigail and she was heartbroken. Dick's lack of work ethic brought him low and he was forced to face himself during a severe sickness. Crying out for help he turned toward God for forgiveness. This is a great story, illuminating many issues including inheritance laws, industrious work, forgiveness, and accepting God's providence.—Curiosmith (2012)

The story is told with the writer's well-known power and pathos. It turns upon a state of things which the 'Married Woman's Property Act' has rendered impossible for the future. The recovery of the old home, the loss of it, and the final restoration through the conversion of the stepson, form a narrative of great interest.—Religious Tract Society (1908).

The Preferatory Note from the book:

This story was intended to illustrate the great injustice suffered by women prior to the passing of the Married Women's Property Acts. Not only were they at a great disadvantage in the eye of the law, but it was also possible to exceed the strict limits of law, as illustrated by Dick's treatment of Abigail. Hence this tale has the special interest of picturing a past state of things, and, by enabling readers to see how the present has improved upon the past, helps to lead them to a better appreciation of the rights and privileges that are now enjoyed by all.


  • Chapter 1 — Watling Street
  • Chapter 2 — Her Heart's Desire
  • Chapter 3 — Abigail's Promise
  • Chapter 4 — Is It Just?
  • Chapter 5 — The Workhouse Roof
  • Chapter 6 — Forewarnings
  • Chapter 7 — Dreams and Visions
  • Chapter 8 — Loving Her Enemies
  • Chapter 9 — Depths of Mercy


  • Abigail Thorneycroft — the wife and main character.
  • Richard Medicott — the husband who died.
  • Gideon — the son of Abigail.
  • Dick Medicott — the stepson.
  • Jenkins — owner of the Barley Mow.

"I'm a wicked sinner," he said; "but Jesus Christ has pardoned me; and to show I'm true and I'm not makin' any pretence, I've been to lawyer Whitmore and found out the way of makin' over the houses to mother, as they rightfully belong to. And I beg her pardon here, before you all, and I ask her to let me try to be a good son to her, and a good brother to poor Gideon."