DOWER. An estate for life, which the law gives the widow in the third part
of the lands and tenements, or hereditaments of which the husband, was
solely seised, at any time during the coverture, of an estate in fee or in
tail, in possession, and to which estate in the lands and tenements, the
issue, if any, of such widow might, by possibility, have inherited. Watk.
Prin. Con. 38; Litt. Sec. 36; 7 Greenl. 383. Vide Estate in Dower. This is
dower at common law.
2. Besides this, in England there are three other species of dower now
subsisting; namely, dower by custom, which is, where a widow becomes
entitled to a certain portion of her husband's lands in consequence of some
local or particular custom, thus by the custom of gavelkind, the widow is
entitled to a moiety of all the lands and tenements, which her husband held
by that tenure.
3. Dower ad ostium ecclesiae, is, when a man comes to the church door
to be married, after troth plighted, endows his wife of a certain portion of
4. Dower ex assensu patris, was only a species of dower ad ostium
ecclesice, made when the husband's father was alive, and the son, with his
consent expressly given, endowed his wife, at the church door, of a certain
part of his father's lands.
5. There was another kind, de la plus belle, to which the abolition of
military tenures has put an end. Vide Cruise's Dig. t. 6, c. 1; 2 Bl. Com.
129; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 72 Poth. Du Douaire.
6. Dower is barred in various ways; 1. By the adultery of the wife,
unless it has been condoned. 2. By a jointure settled upon the wife. 2
Paige, R. 511. 3. By the wife joining her husband in a conveyance of the
estate. 4. By the husband and wife levying a fine, or suffering a common
recovery. 10 Co. 49, b Plowd. 504. 5. By a divorce a vinculo matrimonii. 6.
By an acceptance, by the wife, of a collateral satisfaction, consisting of
land, money, or other chattel interest, given instead of it by the husband's
will, and accepted after the husband's death. In these cases she has a right
to elect whether to take her dower or the bequest or devise. 4 Monr. R. 265;
5 Monr. R. 58; 4 Desaus. R. 146; 2 M'Cord, Ch. R. 280; 7 Cranch, R. 370; 5
Call, R. 481; 1 Edw. R. 435 3 Russ. R. 192; 2 Dana, R. 342.
7. In some of the United States, the estate which the wife takes in the
lands of her deceased husband, varies essentially from the right of dower at
common law. In some of the states, she takes one-third of the profits, or in
case of there being no children, one half. In others she takes the same
right in fee, when there are no lineal descendants; and in one she takes
two-thirds in fee, when there are no lineal ascendants or descendants, or
brother or sister of the whole or half blood. 1 Hill. Ab. 57, 8; see Bouv.
Inst. Index, h.t.
, bless with
, endow with
, favor with
, grace with
, legal jointure
, long suit
, marriage portion
, natural endowment
, natural gift
, settle on
, settle upon
, strong flair
, strong point
, the goods
, the stuff
, vest with
, what it takes