Prior to the enactment of the statute of uses the wife's dower could not be bargained away. Thus dower constituted a clog upon alienation. Antenuptial contracts therefore were not recognized. However, with the passing of the statute of uses, jointures came into existence as means of barring dower and making alienation free. Jointures were of two kinds, viz., legal and equitable. As the law developed in England both types were recognized; but as the law developed in the United States, statutes were enacted specifically providing for jointures and antenuptial contracts. Our courts generally considered them as equitable in nature. These early statutes enacted by the various states were modeled after the statute of Henry VIII, which enacted that where lands are settled to the use of the wife, "then in every such case, every woman married having such jointure . . . shall not claim nor have title to have any dower in the residue."
B. B. Wolson,
HUSBAND AND WIFE-ANTENUPTIAL CONTRACTS,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol41/iss6/8