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Hodges et ux. v. Green,
which was within the statute of frauds, had been performed by the execution and delivery of the deeds.” In the case of Thayer v.
Viles, 23 Vt. 497, the court observed, that “if this action merely concerns the price of the land, it is not a matter which, by the statute of frauds, is required to be in writing. It has often been decided that an action for the price of land, which has already been conveyed, might be maintained upon merely oral evidence.” The same doctrine was again recognized in the late case of Davis v. Farr, 26 Vt. 596. Although the rule may be otherwise settled in England, yet we feel no disposition to depart from the construction of that statute, in this particular, which has been given to it in the cases referred to from New York and Massachusetts, and which has been so frequently recognized in this state. We think, therefore, there is no objections to the plaintiffs' recovery, arising from the statute of frauds.
We are satisfied, also, that the case shows a sufficient performance of the contract by the plaintiffs, to entitle them to recover the price of the pew. The deed was offered to the defendant before the commencement of this action, though not until several months after its execution had been requested. The delay of that matter for a season, was in pursuance of a mutual understanding. In the mean time, the defendant took the possession and control of the property, and has entirely destroyed its identity. He has been placed in the same situation, and in the enjoyment of all the rights he would have had, if the deed had been executed. It is not for him, under those circumstances, to refuse to accept the deed, and pay for the property he has taken, particularly as the defendant at no time had repudiated the purchase, in season to enable the plaintiffs to protect their rights; and no pretence was made, that any injury or inconvenience had been sustained, in consequence of that delay. The plaintiffs can sustain no action of trespass for taking and destroying the pew; the contract of sale will prevent that, and, in fact, they have lost their property and are remediless, unless this remedy is open to them. We think the plaintiffs are entitled to recover the stipulated price of the pew.
The judgment of the county court must be reversed, and the case remanded.
Admr. of Crary v. Hall.
NATHAN J. SMITH, administrator, de bonis non, of NATHANIEL
CRARY's Estate, v. CALEB HALL.
The residuary devisee consented to a sale by the executor, for the payment of debts
and specific legacies, of a portion of the testator's real estate; and, to save the ex pense of an order of sale from the probate court, quit-claimed the premises to the executor individually. The defendant being in the adverse possession of a part of the premises, an action of ejectment for the recovery of them was commenced in the name of the estate. The deed to the executor was not recorded, but the defendant, with knowledge of its existence, obtained from the devisee a deed to himself of the premises in dispute, which he put upon record. Between the times of the execution of the two deeds the premises deeded to the executor were, by a decree of the probate court, assigned to the residuary devisee. The executor having deceased, the action of ejectment was prosecuted in the name of the ad ministrator, de bonis
for the benefit of the person to whom the executor had sold. Held, that the title derived by the devisee under the will, and the assignment of the probate court, enured to the benefit of the person who purchased of the executor;—that the defendant could not defend the action on the strength of his deed ;--and that the action was not defeated by the conveyance to the executor, the defendant being at the time in adverse possession.
EJECTMENT, tried by jury, upon the general issue, September Term, 1855,-PIERPOINT, J., presiding.
The plaintiff gave evidence tending to prove title to the premises described in the declaration, in Nathaniel Crary, (the testator,) at the date of the ouster laid in the declaration, (January, 1845,) and at the time of the said Crary's decease; and that the defendant, at the time laid in the declaration, had entered into the actual possession of the western portion of the same, not definitely marked or designated, and thereafter held it in his adverse possession, claiming title thereto. Crary deceased in July, 1847, leaving a will, which was admitted to probate September 14th, 1847, and John Fox, the executor thereof, commenced the present suit March 24th, 1848. Said Fox deceased during the pendency of the suit, and administration, de bonis non, was duly granted to the plaintiff.
The defendant then introduced the will of Crary, by which he devised to Clarissa C. Weller the rest and residue of his estate, after the payment of debts and certain legacies ; a decree of the proper probate court, dated November 30th, 1848, assigning all such estate to the said Clarissa C. Weller; and a quit-claim deed of all the premises described in the declaration, executed by the
Admr. of Crary v. Hall.
said Clarrissa to the defendant, dated June 16, 1853, and recorded June 21st, 1853.
The plaintiff then offered to prove that the said John Fox, executor, with the knowledge and consent of the said Clarissa C. Weller, on the 21st of February, 1848, bargained with one Frederick Button, by his bond, to convey to him the home farm of said Crary, and the premises described in the declaration, (the same being a part of said home farm,) for the sum of $5,950, paid by Button; and had given said Button authority to sue for and recover the premises, so in possession of the defendant, with the damages, in the name of said Fox, executor, but for the benefit of Button, said Button saving the estate and Fox harmļess from all costs, expenses and damages; that the purchase money was paid by Button to Fox, executor, and was appropriated by him in paying off the debts chargeable on the estate, and the legacies and expenses of administration, and the balance paid over to the said Clarissa; and that, the said Clarissa, in order to carry out this contract of the executor, and to save the expense of an order of sale from the probate court, on the 24th of February, 1848, conveyed to the said John Fox, by a quit-claim deed of that date, but not recorded until July 14th, 1853, all her right, title and interest to said farm, including the land described in said declaration ; and that the defendant, at the time he contracted with and received his deed from Mrs. Weller, knew of the said deed to John Fox, and its contents, and of the contract made with Button.
The court rejected the evidence so offered by the plaintiff, upon the ground of its being immaterial, and directed the jury that, if they believed the evidence introduced, they should return a verdict for the defendant. Exceptions by the plaintiff.
D. Roberts for the plaintiff.
At the date of the writ, (March 24, 1848,) the right to sue was in Fox, the executor. The suit could have been brought in no other name or mode, at that time. Comp. Stat. 341, § 10–11. Was this right defeated by what subsequently occurred ?
It was the will of Crary, and not the decree of the probate court, which gave title to Mrs. Weller. Immediately upon his death, an estate in this land vested in her by the will, subject,
Admr. of Crary v. Hall.
nevertheless, to the lien of the executor, for the payment of debts, legacies and expenses. This estate she could convey by deed. Hyde v. Barney, 17 Vt. 280; and she did convey it to John Fox, by deed, February 24, 1848. But the defendant was then in adverse possession of the land; hence, the suit may go on in the name of Fox, executor. Parkhurst v. Edwards, 15 Vt. 618.
The decree was rather declaratory than creative of title; merely announcing that she might then take what was hers already by the will. But she had already conveyed to Fox, and is estopped by her covenant in that deed, from setting up any claim under the decree as against her deed; and so the decree has enured to the benefit of Fox. Edwards v. Roys, 18 Vt. 473; Edwards v. Parkhurst, 21 Vt. 472. But the defendant being in adverse possession, and the effect of the decree being as above stated, the suit may continue on in the name of Fox, executor, and he may recover for the benefit of the equitable owner.
The defendant can claim nothing under his deed from Mrs. Weller. The notice to him was equivalent to a record of her deed to Fox. Mrs. Weller, thereafter, as to all persons having actual or constructive notice of that deed, had no title to convey. The adverse possession of the defendant had only this effect to prevent the transfer of the legal title to Fox. The equitable title was conveyed, and Mrs. Weller's control of the estate gone forever. The defendant could not thereafter, and after notice, for the sake of fortifying his posession, or for any purpose, acquire any right by her deed to him. Edwards v. Parkhurst, 21 Vt. 472.
R. R. Thrall and C. Linsley for the defendant.
After the payment of all the debts and specific legacies, and the assignment of all the real estate to Clarissa Weller, the residuary legatee, the title to the property was in her; and the suit, though in the name of the administrator, was for her sole benefit, and it was competent for her to sell it, and thereby to discharge the plaintiff's right to recover.
The contract made by the executor, 'with Button, on the 21st of February, 1848, before he had obtained an order of sale, was void, being against the policy of the law, which required him to be under oath after he had obtained his license to sell it to the best ad
Admr. of Crary v. Hall.
vantage, &c. The authority given by Fox to Button, authorising Button to prosecute Hall, in the name of Fox, for Button's benefit, and at his cost, was also against law, a species of champerty or maintenance which should not be encouraged. All the proceedings under that contract were void, as against the policy of the law.
The quit-claim deed executed by Mrs. Weller to John Fox, of the 24th of February, 1848, before the assignment to her by the probate court, conveyed nothing, as she had no title to convey.
The deed from Mrs. Weller to John Fox, of the 24th of February, 1848, while Caleb Hall was in the adverse possession of the land, was void, in any event, so far as that land was concerned. If the deed was void, it was immaterial whether the defendant knew of its existence or not.
The opinion of the court was delivered, at the circuit session in June, by
BENNETT, J. This is an action of ejectment, and the declaration counts upon a seisin and ouster in the life-time of Crary. The premises in dispute are a part of what was called the home farm of Crary; and, at the trial, the defendant attempted to stand upon the title of Crary, as derived from his daughter; and the only question is, which has the best right? For the plaintiff it is to be assumed, upon the exceptions, that Crary had a valid title to the premises ; and that the defendant was in possession, adverse to Crary, though upon the trial he did not rely upon his adverse possession.
The defendant, on trial, claimed title under Clarissa C. Weller, the daughter of Mr. Crary.
By the will of her father, Clarissa was made the residuary devisee and legatee; and it seems that for some cause which is not very apparent, the court of probate, on the 30th of November, 1848, passed a decree assigning the whole of the home farm to the daughter Clarissa ; and on the 16th day of June, 1853, she gave a quit-claim deed of that part of the home farm now in dispute, to the defendant; supposed to be some twenty-five acres; and this deed was recorded on the 23d day of the same month.
The plaintiff proposed to show that John Fox, then the executor of the will, by the consent of Clarissa on the 21st of February,