Moore v. Greene
THIS was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of Rhode Island, sitting as a court of equity.
The bill was filed by Elizabeth Moore, a citizen of the State of New York, the great-grandchild of John Manton, of Rhode Island, who died in 1767. It alleged a series of frauds, beginning in 1757, when one of his sons-in-law prevailed upon him by fraud to make a deed; then that his three sons-in-law conspired together to have him declared non compos mentis; then that they fraudulently set aside his will; then that one of his sons-in-law cheated his own children out of their share of the estate, and the administrator became a party to the fraud; then that the Town Council, conniving with the sons-in-law, adjudged the paper not to be a lawful will, and that all the parties fraudulently prevented an appeal. These charges of fraud were made to include many other transactions which it is not necessary to specify. The claim of the complainant was, that she was entitled to a share of the lands held by the defendants; and the prayer was, that a partition might be decreed.
Hawkins filed his answer, saying that he had purchased property from Samuel W. King, who derived it from his father, Josiah King, who inherited it from his father, William B. King; and that he and the Kings had been in the uninterrupted and quiet possession of the property for more than twenty years before the filing of the bill, and therefore be pleaded the statute of limitations. He also denied all knowledge of the important facts stated in the bill.
Greene answered and explained the manner in which he had come into possession of the property, viz: from his father, Samuel Greene, who was a devisee of his father, Joshua Greene, who purchased it from Josiah King, administrator of John Manton, in 1770; since which time, it had been in the possession of the family. He also denied all knowledge of the alleged frauds, and pleaded the statute of limitations.
After taking much testimony, the cause came up for hearing in November, 1854, when the Circuit Court dismissed the bill with costs. The complainant appealed to this court.
It was submitted on printed arguments by Mr. Randall for the appellant, and Mr. Bradley for the appellee.
The argument of Mr. Randall covered a great deal of ground, as may be supposed, from the long period of time which his investigation included. But it is not deemed material to state all these points, or the reply of the opposing counsel. The manner in which Mr. Randall proposed to escape from the plea of the statute of limitations was by alleging a series of disabilities, in this manner:
John Manton died in 1767. Anna Waterman, his daughter, died before her father, leaving a daughter named Betty.
Betty was born in 1756. Betty was thus in her 17th year when her grandfather died, and came of age in 1777.
Betty married Carpenter before 1775, whilst she was yet a minor.
Bettery died in 1784-'5, leaving Elizabeth, the present plaintiff.
Elizabeth married Heman Moore in 1804, in the 19th or 20th year of her age.
Moore died in 1840.
Mr. Justice McLEAN delivered the opinion of the court.