A woman entitled to dower.
In order to entitle a woman to the rights of a dowress at common law, she must have been lawfully married, her husband must be dead, he must have been seised during the coverture of an estate subject to dower. Although the marriage may be voidable, if it is not absolutely void at his death, it is sufficient to support the rights of the dowress. The husband and wife must have been of sufficient age to consent.
At common law an alien could not be endowed, but this rule has been changed in several states.
The dowress' right may be defeated when her husband was not of right seised of an estate of inheritance; e.g., dower will be defeated upon the restoration of the seisin under the prior title in the case of defeasible estates, as in case of reentry for a condition broken, which abolishes the intermediate seisin.
Formerly applied to mean that which a woman brings to her husband in marriage; this is now called a portion. This word is sometimes confounded with dower.