U.S. Supreme Court
THOMSON'S LESSEE v. WHITE, 1 U.S. 424 (1789)
1 U.S. 424 (Dall.)
The Lessee of Thompson et ux.
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
April Term, 1789
Ejectment for a house and lot in Second street, in the city of Philadelphia. The action was tried by a Jury at bar, in January term, 1788, and a verdict given for the Plaintiff. A motion was then made by the Defendant's counsel for a new trial, which was argued, in favor of the new trial, by Lewis and Heatly, and, against it, by Ingersol and Sergeant, in January term, 1789: and, the Court having continued the cause under advisement, gave their opinion in the present term.
The case, upon the evidence, was as follows: Dorothy Gordon, being seized in fee of the moiety of the premisses in question, intermarried
with Lawrence Saltar, and, having lived long with him, and no prospect of children, she was desirous of making a provision for an only sister of the whole blood, to wit, Mary, one of the Lessors of the Plaintiff, whose husband, John, the other Lessor, was considerably reduced in his circumstances. It then appeared, that Mrs. Saltar, while upon a visit, with her husband, to his brother, John Saltar, who resided at some distance, was taken sick; and, after a conversation relative to her estate, it was agreed by her husband and herself, that it should be settled on them for their lives, and for the life of the survivor of them, and, afterwards, that it should go to her sister, the said Mary Thompson, for life, and the heirs of her body lawfully begotten; and for want of such heirs to the children of her three sisters of the half blood. Mr. Saltar, accordingly, procured a deed of the above effect to be drawn by a Conveyancer in Philadelphia; but the second remainder being expressed to be, 'for the issue of the bodies of the three half sisters,' one of whom was unmarried, Mrs. Saltar, when the instrument was read to her, thought the expression indelicate with respect to her three half sisters, and, for that reason, persisted in refusing to execute it, not withstanding all the persuasion of her friends. Upon this refusal, her husband proposed to her, that a deed should be drawn from them to his brother John, who, with his wife, should reconvey the premisses to him (the said Lawrence) and herself, as jointenants, in fee; and he promised that as soon as he got home, he would make his will, or by some other means, settle the estate in the manner that they had before projected. Mrs. Saltar hesitated at this proposition; but, on her sister, Elizabeth Saltar's, telling her, that 'she might rely upon him; for, if there was a man in the world, who could be trusted in such a case, it was him;' and on her husband's requesting her to comply, declaring, that 'if there was faith or truth in man, he would honestly perform what he again promised;' she executed the deed to John Saltar, who, with his wife, reconveyed the estate, according to the previous stipulation. Mrs. Saltar died in the year 1781, about six months after the deeds were signed; and her husband died, intestate and without issue, about eighteen months after her decease. Mr. Lawrence Saltar always, during his life time, managed the estate that had been his wife's, as if it belonged to the Lessors of the Plaintiff: In his last sickness, indeed, when near expiring, he told his brother, that he was very uneasy on account of his leaving no will; and soon after this declaration he lost his reason.
The preceding facts were proved by John Saltar and Elizabeth, his wife; together with the confession of the Defendant, that the Lessors of the Plaintiff had the title in equity, although he had it in law. There was, indeed, a contradiction, in some respect, of the case of the Lessors of the Plaintiff, in the testimony of Abel James, who related a conversation which he had with Lawrence and Dorothy Saltar a few days before the deeds were executed, at which time [1 U.S. 424, 426]
Full Text of Opinion