OpenJurist

16 US 1 Jackson the People of the State of New-York v. Clarke

16 U.S. 1

3 Wheat. 1

4 L.Ed. 319

JACKSON, ex dem. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW-YORK,
v.
CLARKE.

February Term, 1818

Page 2 ERROR to the circuit court for the district of New-York.

This was an action of ejectment commenced in the supreme court of the state of New-York, and removed thence into the circuit court of the United States, for the New-York district, where, in September, 1815, a trial was had, and a special verdict found, in the words following, to wit:

At which day in this same court, at the city of New-York, in the New-York district, came the parties aforesaid, by their attorneys aforesaid, and the jurors aforesaid being called also come, who to say the truth of the above contents, being elected, tried and sworn, say, upon their oath, that long before the above mentioned time, when the trespass and ejectment above mentioned, are supposed to have been committed, namely, on the tenth day of April, 1706, Anne, Queen of England, by letters patent under the great seal of the then colony of New-York, did grant unto Sampson Broughton, and divers other persons in the said letters patent named, and their heirs, a certain tract of land, situate in the then colony, now state of New-York, to have and to hold the same to them, their heirs and assigns, forever, as tenants in common, and not as joint tenants. And that the lands and tenements, with their appurtenances specified in the foregoing declaration of the said James Jackson, were part and parcel of the said tract of land granted, as aforesaid, by the said letters patent. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that the said Sampson Broughton, and the said other persons to whom the said tract of land was granted as aforesaid by the said letters patent, being so seized in fee simple, and possessed of the said tract of land by virtue of the said letters patent, did afterwards, to wit: on the twelfth day of April, in the year last aforesaid, by good and sufficient conveyance and assurance in the law, for a valuable consideration, grant, bargain, sell, and convey unto George Clarke, now deceased, (who was formerly lieutenant governor of the said colony, and who was then a subject of England, and who remained so until the time of his death,) and to his heirs, one equal undivided ninth part of the said tract of land granted as aforesaid, in and by the said letters patent, to have and to hold to him, his heirs and assigns, forever. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that partition of the said tract of land mentioned in the said letters patent was afterwards, to wit, in the year last aforesaid, made in due form of law, between the last aforesaid George Clarke, and the other proprietors of the said tract of land mentioned and granted in and by the said letters patent. And that by virtue of the said partition, the last aforesaid George Clarke became, and was sole seized in fee simple, and possessed of the lands and tenements, with the appurtenances specified in the said declaration of the said James Jackson,and continued to be so seized and possessed thereof, until the time of his death. And that the last aforesaid George Clarke died so seized and possessed, in the year 1759. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that George Clarke, who was late secretary of the colony of New-York, was the eldest son, and heir at law of the before mentioned George Clarke, formerly lieutenant governor, as aforesaid. And that upon the death of the said George Clarke, formerly lieutenant governor as aforesaid, the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid, as son and heir, as aforesaid, entered upon, and was seized in fee simple, and possessed the lands and tenements, with the appurtenances specified in the said declaration of the said James Jackson. And being so seized and possessed, did afterwards, to wit, on the thitieth day of November, 1776, at Hyde, in the county palatine of Chester, in the kingdom of Great Britain, make and publish, in due form of law to pass real estate, his last will and testament, and did thereby devise unto his grand nephews, the said George Clarke, the defendant in the said declaration named, and Edward Clarke, and to their heirs and assigns, as tenants in common, and not as joint tenants, the lands and tenements in the said declaration specified, with the appurtenances. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid, afterwards, to wit, on the tenth day of December, 1776, at Hyde aforesaid, in the said county palatine of Chester, in the said kingdom of Great Britain, died so seized and possessed as aforesaid, and without having altered or revoked his said last will and testament. Andthe jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that upon the death of the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, and the said Edward Clarke, claiming under the said last will and testament, entered upon, and became possessed of, the said lands and tenements, with the appurtenances, in the said declaration specified. And the said George Clarke, the said defendant, and the said Edward Clarke, being actually possessed of the said lands and tenements, with the appurtenances, in the said declaration specified, as under the said last will and testament, the said Edward Clarke did afterwards, to wit, on the twenty-third day of December, 1791, by a deed of bargain and sale, duly executed, grant, bargain and sell, for a valuable consideration, to the said George Clarke, the said defendant, and his heirs, one equal moiety of the said lands and tenements, with the appurtenances, in the said declaration specified, and all the estate and interest of the said Edward Clarke, in and to the said lands and tenements last aforesaid, with the appurtenances, to have and to hold the same to the said George Clarke, the said defendant, his heirs, and assigns; by reason whereof, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, entered upon, and became, and was actually possessed of, the said lands and tenements, with the appurtenances, in the said declaration specified, claiming to be seized thereof in fee simple, and so continued until the entry of the people of the state of New-York, hereafter mentioned. And the jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that the said George Clarke,late secretary as aforesaid, was born in the city of New-York, in the late colony, now state of New-York, and that in the year 1738 he went to that part of Great Britain called England, and thenceforth continued to live and reside there on his family estate until and at the time when he made and published his said last will and testament, and ever after, and until and at the time of his death. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that on the fourth day of July, in the year 1776, the late colony of New-York, together with the other colonies of Great Britain in North America, now called the United States of America, declared themselves free and independent states, and that from that day to the first day of September, in the year 1783, the said United States, and the citizens thereof, were at open and public war with the king of Great Britain and his subjects. And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that the said George Clarke, the said defendant, was born in England, on the twenty-eighth day of April, in the year 1768. And that the said Edward Clarke was born in England, on the twenty-eighth day of November, in the year of our Lord 1770. And that the said George Clarke, the said defendant, and the said Edward Clarke, were both British subjects.

And the jurors aforesaid, on their oath aforesaid, further say that the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid, died without issue, and that at the time of his death one George Hyde Clarke was his nephew; and that the said George Hyde Clarke, if he is capable of inheriting the real estate of the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid, within the state of New-York, is the heir at law of the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid; and that the said George Hyde Clarke was born in Great Britain, before the fourth day of July, in the year 1776, and hath ever since resided, and still doth reside in Great Britain, and is still living; and that no other person than the said George Hyde Clarke is, or can be, the heir at law of the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid; and that the said George Hyde Clarke, is capable of inheriting the real estate of the said George Clarke, late secretary as aforesaid, within the state of New-York, unless he is incapable of inheriting such real estate, by reason of his having been born, and having resided in, Great Britain as aforesaid. And the jurors aforesaid, on their oath aforesaid, further say, that on the eighth day of February, in the year 1791, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, caused to be presented to the legislature of the state of New-York, a petition, in the words following, to wit:

To the honourable the senate and assembly of the state of New-York, in legislature convened: The petition of George Clarke humbly showeth, that your petitioner was born in England, and is great grandson of George Clarke, formerly lieutenant governor of New-York; that he resided in the city of New-York for about a year preceding the month of October last, with intention, at the end of two years, to have been naturalized under the statute of the United States; that he was unexpectedly called abroad on important business, but expects to return in the course of the ensuing summer; and as his naturalization must now be unavoidably suspended, to the great embarrassment of his affairs, your petitioner humbly prays that his name may be inserted in the bill now before the honourable the legislature, to grant a similar privilege of holding lands within this state, notwithstanding the want of naturalization, and your petitioner shall pray, &c.

GEORGE CLARKE,

BY GOLDSB. BANYAR, and JAS. DUANE, his Attorneys.

And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that on the twenty-second day of March, in the year 1791, an act was passed by the legislature of the state of New-York, in the words following, to wit: 'An act to enable Francois Christophe Mantel, and the several other persons therein named, to purchase and hold real estates within this state. Be it enacted by the people of the state of New-York, represented in senate and assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that it shall and may be lawful for Francois Christophe Mantel, Samuel Clows, junior, Samuel Richardet, William Robert O'Hara, Erick Glad, George Turnbull, Thomas Mounsey, and Jan Barnhard, respectively, to purchase lands, tenements and hereditaments within this state, and to have and to hold the same to them respectively, and their respective heirs and assigns, forever, as fully to all intents and purposes as any natural born citizen may or can do, any law, usage, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall and may be lawful for George Clarke, who is great grandson of George Clarke, formerly lieutenant governor of New-York, to purchase any lands, tenements or hereditaments within this state, and to have and to hold the same, and all other lands, tenements and hereditaments which he may now be entitled to within this state, by purchase or descent, to him the said George Clarke first above named, his heirs and assigns, to his and their own proper use and behoof forever, and to sell and dispose of the same, or any part thereof, as fully, to all intents and purposes, as any natural born citizen may or can do, any law, usage or custom to the contrary notwithstanding.' And the jurors aforesaid, on their oath aforesaid, farther say, that the said George Clarke, the said defendant, and the said George Clarke, great-grandson of George Clarke, former lieutenant governor of New-York, mentioned in the said act, is one and the same person. And the jurors aforesaid, on their oath aforesaid, further say, that on the first day of May, in the year 1810, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, was in actual possession and occupation of the said lands and tenements, in the said declaration specified, with the appurtenances, and that on the day and year last aforesaid, the said people of the State of New-York, lessors of the said James Jackson, entered into the said tenements, with the appurtenances, and from thence put out and removed the last aforesaid George Clarke, and were seized thereof as the law requires; and being so seized thereof, the said people, on the day and year last aforesaid, demised to the said James Jackson, the tenements aforesaid, withthe appurtenances, to have and to hold to the said James Jackson, and his assigns, from the said first day of May then last past, until the full end and term of twenty-one years from thence next ensuing, and fully to be complete and ended, in the manner in which the said demise is set forth in the said declaration of the said James Jackson. By virtue of which said demise, the said James Jackson entered into the said lands and tenements, with the appurtenances, and was thereof possessed; and he being so possessed thereof, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, afterwards, to wit, on the tenth day of May, in the year last aforesaid, with force and arms, &c. entered into the said tenements, with the appurtenances, which had been demised to the said James Jackson as aforesaid, and ejected, expelled and amoved the said James Jackson from his said possession, as the said James Jackson hath above complained against the last aforesaid George Clarke.

And the jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, further say, that at the time of the commencement of this action, the tenements aforesaid, in the said declaration specified, were, and ever since have been, and yet are, of a value exceeding the sum of five hundred dollars, exclusive of all costs and expenses. And the jurors aforesaid, on their oath aforesaid, further say, that the said James Jackson, at the time of the commencement of this action, was and yet is a citizen of the state of New-York, in the United States of America. And that at the time of the commencement of this action, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, in the said declaration named, was and yet is a subject of the king of the united kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. But whether upon the whole matter aforesaid, by the jurors aforesaid, in manner aforesaid found, the said George Clarke, the said defendant, is guilty of the trespass and ejectment above mentioned, the said jurors are entirely ignorant, and pray the advice of the court thereon. And if it shall appear to this court, that the last aforesaid George Clarke, in construction of law, is guilty of the trespass and ejectment above mentioned, then the said jurors say upon their oath, that the last aforesaid George Clarke is guilty of the trespass and ejectment in the said declaration of the said James Jackson mentioned, in manner and form, as the said James Jackson hath above in his said declaration complained. And they assess the damages which the said James Jackson hath sustained by reason of the said trespass and ejectment, besides his costs and charges by him about his suit in this behalf expended, at six cents, and for his said costs and charges at six cents. And if it shall appear to the court, that the last aforesaid George Clarke is not guilty of the said trespass and ejectment, then the said jurors say upon their oath, that the last aforesaid George Clarke is not guilty thereof, in manner and form as he hath above in his plea alleged.

On the foregoing special verdict, judgment was rendered for the defendant, George Clarke, by the circuit court, to reverse which, this writ of error was brough

Feb. 5th.

Mr. Champlin, for the plaintiff in error, made the following points, and cited the authorities in the margin. 1. That Secretary George Clarke, at the time of his death, was an alien enemy, and there being at that time no statute of wills in force in the state of New-York, the people of the state, at his death, became seized of the premises.1 2. That Secretary George Clarke, being an alien enemy, had no power to make a valid will, or alien his estate in any manner whatever.2 3. His will being void, and George Hyde Clarke being an alien enemy, took nothing by descent. 4. That, after the death of Secretary George Clarke, there was no person competent to take the premises by inheritance or devise, whereby the people of the state of New York at his death, became ipso facto possessed thereof, without office found.

Mr. D. B. Ogden, contra, was stopped by the court.

Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the court, that every question arising in the cause had been settled by former decisions.

1

Judgment affirmed, with costs.3 Dawson's lessee v. Godfrey, 4 Cranch, 321, it was held that a person born in England before the declaration of independence, and who always resided there, and never was in the United States, could not take lands in Maryland by descent.

2

And in the case of Smith v. the State of Maryland, (4 Cranch, 286), it was determined that by the acts of Maryland, 1780, ch. 45 and 49, the equitable interests of British subjects in lands were confiscated, and vested in the state, without office found, prior to the treaty of peace of 1783, so that the British cestui que trust was not protected by the stipulation in that treaty, against future confiscations, nor by the stipulation in the 9th article of the treaty of 1794, securing the British subjects, who then held lands in this country, the right to continue to hold them.

3

In the supreme court of N. York it has been held, that where a married woman was a subject of Great Britain before the revolution, and always continued such, but her husband resided in this country both before and after that period she was entitled to dower out of those lands of which he was seised before the revolution, but not of those of which he was subsequently seised. Kelly v. Harrison, 2 Johns. Cas. 29. The same court has also determined, that where a British subject died seized of lands in the state in 1752, leaving daughters in England who married British subjects, and neither they nor their wives were citizens of the United States; even if the marriages were subsequent to the revolution, such marriages would not impair the rights of the wives, nor prevent the full enjoyment of the property according to the laws of the marriage state, especially after the 5th provision in the 9th article of the treaty of 1794.

4

The court seemed also to think that where the title to land in the state was acquired by a British subject prior to the revolution, the right of such British subject to transmit the same by descent, to an heir in esse at the time of the revolution, continued unaltered and unimpaired; the case of a revolution or division of an empire being an exception to the general rule of law, that an alien cannot take by descent. Jackson v. Lunn. 3 Johns. Cas. 109. See also Jackson v. Wright, 4 Johns. R. 75. The treaty of 1704, relates only to lands then held by British subjects, and not to any after acquired lands. Jackson v. Decker, 11 Johns. R. 418, 422.

5

In the case of Fairfax's devisee v. Hunter's lessee, 7 Cranch, 603, and ante, vol. I. p. 304. it was adjudged. 1st. That an alien enemy may take by purchase though not by descent; and that, whether the purchase be by grant or by devise. 2d. That the title thus acquired by an alien enemy is no devested until office found. 3d. That whether the treaty of peace of 1783, declaring that no future confiscations should be made, protects from forfeiture, under the municipal laws respecting alienage, lands held by British subjects at the time of its ratification, or not, yet that the 9th article of the treaty of 1794 completely protected the title of a British devisee, whose estate had not been previously devested by an inquest of office, or some eqivalent proceeding.

1

Dawson v. Godfrey, 4 Campbell v. Hall, Cowp. 208. Cranch, 321. Gardner v. Vattel, L. 3, ch. 5. s. 7. Wade, 2 Mass. Rep. 244.

2

5 Bac. Abr. Tit. Will. B. 499. 7 Co. Rep. 33. 1 Bl. Com. 372.

3

In the case of M'llvaine v. Coxe's lessee, (4 Cranch, 209), the court determined that a personborn in the colony of New-Jersey, before the declaration of independence, and residing there until 1777, but who then joined the British army, and ever since adhered to the British government, has a right to take lands by descent in the state of New-Jersey. But in