4 N.Y. 508, People v. Arnold

Citation:4 N.Y. 508
Case Date:April 01, 1851
Court:New York Court of Appeals

Page 508

4 N.Y. 508




New York Court of Appeal

April 1, 1851

Page 509


L. S. Chatfield, (attorney general,) for the appellants, said that the statute under which the answer was framed, (1 R. L. 184, § 1,) did not bar suits by the people to recover lands, the title to which was vested in them, unless there has been for forty years a possession hostile to their title. The defendant, to succeed with such a defence, must show an adverse possession of forty years, (8 Wend. 183,) or a grant from the people. This is clearly the interpretation of the statute, and it should be pleaded according to its meaning rather than its letter.

Page 510

(Plowd. 232; 1 Dall. 178; 21 Wend. 211; 3 Cowen, 89; 15 John. 380; 2 Cowen, 518; 15 John. 358; 2 Peters, 362; 3 Mass. 523; 5 id. 380; 7 id. 458; 22 Pick. 57; Willes, 397; 6 Cranch, 314; 1 Edwards, 273.)The intention of the legislature in enacting this statute was to protect a party who had been in possession for forty years. This is evident from the clause of the statute which declares that "the person so holding said lands shall freely hold and enjoy the same."

J. C. Spencer, for the respondent.


The people of this state have agreed that they will not sue, or implead any person, for or in respect to any lands, by reason of any right or title of the people to the same, which shall not have accrued within the space of forty years before suit for the same be commenced, unless the people, or those under whom they claim, shall have received the rents and profits thereof within the said space of forty years. (1 R. L. 184, § 1.) I have given all the words of the statute which are material to the present inquiry. In this action the people sue to recover the possession of certain lands, and alledge that they have good title, and are the true owners of the same in fee simple. The defendant answers in all due form, and with technical accuracy, that no right or title to the lands in question accrued to the plaintiffs within the space of forty years before the commencement of this action: and that neither the plaintiffs, nor those under whom they claim, have received the rents and profits of the land within the said space of forty years before the commencement of this action. To this answer the attorney general has demurred. By doing so he has admitted all the facts which are...

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