Stelle v. Carroll
IN error to the circuit court of the United States, for the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia.
The plaintiff in error brought an action claiming to be endowed out of certain lots, with the improvements on them, being No. 16 and No. 17, in square 728, in the city of Washington; and relied on the following circumstances, as giving her the right thereto.
On the 24th of August, 1804, George Walker and William Turnicliffe conveyed, in fee simple, to Pontius D. Stelle, lots 16 and 17, in square 728, in the city of Washington. And on the 25th of August, 1804, Pontius D. Stelle reconveyed these lots to William Turnicliffe, by way of mortgage, to secure the payment of the purchase money; but his wife did not relinquish her dower.
On the 14th day of November, 1808, Pontius D. Stelle executed to Peter Miller another deed of bargain and sale, in fee simple, of lot 18, in square 728; and Beulah Stelle, his wife, joined with him in the asknowledgment, and relinquished her dower.
On the 1st day of March, 1810, Pontius D. Stelle conveyed the same lots to Peter Miller, in fee simple, by way of mortgage, and Beulah Stelle, the demandant, relinquished her dower in them.
On the 28th of January, 1811, Pontius D. Stelle executed another deed, in fee simple, to Peter Miller; by which, after reciting that he had, on the 25th of August, 1804, mortgaged lots 16 and 17 to William Turnicliffe, to secure the payment of four thousand dollars, the balance of which had been, or was, secured to be paid to Turnicliffe by Miller, 'and from which the said Pontius D. Stelle is wholly released and exonerated;' that Miller had advanced to him (Stelle) several large sums of money, for securing the payment of which he (Stelle) had conveyed to Miller lot 18, in square 728, with a deed of defeasance from Miller to Stelle; which sums of money 'Stelle having failed to pay to the said Miller, the said conveyance of lot numbered 18 to the said Miller hath become absolute and unconditional;' and that Stelle is desirous of 'more fully conveying and assuring the above described lots of ground to the said Peter Miller;' and for the consideration of eight hundred and ninety-two dollars and ninety-eight cents, he proceeded to convey, by bargain and sale, to the said Peter Miller, his heirs and assigns, the said lots 16, 17, and 18, 'and all the right, title, interest, property, claim, and demand, whether in law or equity,' which he had in them; with covenants of general warranty ('except the liens abovementioned,') and for further assurances. This deed has no release of dower.
Afterward Pontius D. Stelle left the possession of the said lots, and they were sold under a decree of the court of chancery of Washington, by Zachariah Walker, trustee, and were purchased by the defendant, and the buildings on lot 16 were erected, after the deed to Peter Miller, in 1811; and not by P. D. Stelle.
The circuit court instructed the jury the plaintiff could not recover, and a verdict and judgment were rendered for the defendant, who thereupon prosecuted this writ of error.
The case was argued by the Messrs. Brent for the plaintiff, and by Mr. Bradley, and Coxe for the defendant.
The plaintiff's counsel relied on the following points for reversing the judgment.
1. The defendant, claiming under the deed of 1811, from P. D. Stelle to Peter Miller, could not deny the seisin by P. D. Stelle of the premises in question at that date.
2. That the mortgage to Turnicliffe was no bar to the claim for dower, because the wife did not join in it, and because the deed of 1811, from Stelle to Miller, recites the satisfaction of this mortgage.
3. That the two mortgages from Stelle and wife to Peter Miller, were absolutely satisfied and discharged, by the sale of the equity of redemption in 1811, to Peter Miller by said Stelle.
4. That, admitting the existence of outstanding mortgages, in which the demandant had joined, still such mortgages are no bar to this demand; because the said defendant does not hold under said mortgages, or any of them, but alone, under the deed of 1811.
5. That where the tenant in possession has not entered under existing mortgages, the fact of there being such outstanding mortgages is no bar to dower.
6. That the demandant did not duly and legally relinquish her dower by any deed, as alleged.
For the plaintiff, the following cases were cited, 6 John. Rep. 290; 7 John. Rep. 281; 9 John. Rep. 344; 13 Mass. 228; 4 Kent's Com. 44, 45; 2 Halstead's Rep. 408; 5 Pickering Rep. 416, 475; 3 Wheat. 226, 227; 17 Mass. 564; 15 Mass. 278; 1 Cowan, 460.
The counsel for the defendant in error contended:
1. That Pontius D. Stelle never had an estate in lots 16 and 17; of which the demandant could be endowed.
2. That if he had such estate, yet she has relinquished her dower by the deed of the 1st of March, 1810; and if any equity remained in her, (which the defendant denies,) it was released by the deed of her husband of the 28th of January, 1811.
Cases cited: 1 Atkyn's Rep. 441, 442; 6 John. Rep. 294; 7 Greenleaf's Rep. 42, &c.
Mr. Chief Justice TANEY delivered the opinion of the Court.
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