profane_wit (profane_wit) wrote in little_details,

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Dower and Jointure in 17th Century England (1670-1671)

So I've done some searching on google, wikipedia, and other online resources and a couple of legal dictionaries as well but have only come away with a fuzzy understanding of the differences between dower and jointure and thus, no real answer to the question that prompted my research in the first place.

I suppose this question is directed mostly at anyone who has any kind of legal knowledge or can understand the workings of common law better than I can. If I'm understanding properly, a dower is the right of a widow to 1/3 of her deceased husband's estate while a jointure is a marriage settlement contracted before the marriage took place that settled an estate (but does this mean property alone or could the "estate" be in the form of like a pension paid to her?) upon a woman for the duration of her life if her husband should predecease her. From what I could tell in my reading, it became increasingly popular for widows to live off of a jointure than a dower but I think I must be missing something because I don't necessarily understand the trend which leads to...

Question 1: Is a jointure inherently more advantageous for a widow than the receipt of a dower?

Question 2: What would happen in the following scenario?

My protagonist is recently widowed. Her husband was a gentleman with a country estate - a manor house and several thousand acres of farms and park land. However, her mother-in-law is still alive. Additionally, she and her husband have no children together.

Question 2a: Could her husband's father have settled this one estate as a jointure upon his wife or, if the estate was entailed, does this prohibit him from settling it upon his widow?

Question 2b: If her husband's father could successfully have settled the estate upon his wife as a jointure, what does this mean for my protagonist and her own prospects for jointure and/or dower? Can the estate be held by both women as a jointure for their support...does the mother-in-law's claim trump my protagonist's? Will my protagonist most likely be paid off with a small sum and sent on her way?

Any help anyone can offer will be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
Tags: 1600-1699, ~inheritance

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