1. Law An article of movable personal property.
2. A slave.
[Middle English chatel, movable property, from Old French, from Medieval Latin
At the beginning of the Victorian period upon her marriage everything a woman once owned in her own right, including property and any money she might earn or inherit automatically belonged to her husband. Married Victorian women had no voice, and their hands were tied. They became the chattel of the man. She could not divorce her husband, though he could divorce her for adultery, and in the event of a divorce, he would automatically get custody of the children and she had no rights of access to see her children. A divorced woman had no chance of acceptance in society again.