French v. Edwards (88 U.S. 147)

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United States Supreme Court

88 U.S. 147

French  v.  Edwards

ERROR to the Circuit Court for the District of California.

French brought ejectment, on the 30th of November, 1872, in the court below, against Edwards and twelve others, for a piece of land in California. The case was submitted to the court without the intervention of a jury. The court found these facts:

(1) That R. H. Vance, on the 1st of March, 1862, was seized in fee of the premises in controversy.

(2) That on that day he conveyed the premises to the plaintiff, who thereupon became seized and the owner in fee, and remained such owner until the 9th of January, 1863.

(3) That on that day he and the defendants executed a joint conveyance of the premises to Edward Martin and F. E. Lynch, their heirs and assigns forever, upon certain trusts, which, so far as it is necessary to state them, were as follows:

To hold and convey the premises in lots of such size and for such prices as should be directed by a committee of four persons, or a majority of them, the committee to be appointed by the parties to the deed and a railroad company then forming, and thereafter to be incorporated, to construct a railroad leading from Sutteville, and connecting with the Sacramento Valley Railroad.

This deed provided,

'That no conveyance shall be made by the said party of the second part until the said railroad shall have been commenced in good faith as aforesaid; and this conveyance shall be void if such railroad shall not be built within one year from the date of these presents; provided, however, that if the iron for such railroad shall be lost or detained on its transit from the Atlantic States, from any accident, then the time for completing said railroad shall be extended to two years, instead of one year.'

(4) That the railroad company was never incorporated and the railroad was never commenced.

(5) That the defendants were in exclusive possession of the premises at the commencement of the action, holding adversely to the plaintiff and all other persons.

The court held that the legal title was vested in Martin and Lynch by the deed of the 9th of January, 1863, was still vested in them, and that the plaintiff could not, therefore, recover.

It accordingly gave judgment for the defendants, and the plaintiff brought the case here, [1] where it was elaborately argued upon the doctrine of subsequent conditions.

Mr. S. O. Houghton (a brief of Mr. John Reynolds being filed), for the plaintiff in error; Mr. J. H. McKune (a brief of Mr. Delos Lake being filed), contra.

Mr. Justice SWAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  This case was formerly before this court in another shape. 13 Wallace 506.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).