Cranston v. Hallock

Citation281 Mass. 182,183 N.E. 351
PartiesCRANSTON v. HALLOCK et al.
Decision Date30 November 1932
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts


Appeal and Report from Probate Court, Middlesex County; John C. Leggat, Judge.

Will contest between Agnes T. Cranston, proponent, and Harriet C. Hallock and others, contestants, concerning the will of John S. Cranston, deceased. From an order denying the motion of contestants to frame issues for trial by jury, contestants appeal, and the case is reported.


R. A. Cutter and J. M. Raymond, both of Boston, for petitioner.

W. A. Graustein, of Cambridge, for respondents.


[2][3] This is an appeal from an order of the Probate Court, denying the motion of the contestants in a will case to frame issues for trial by jury as to soundness of mind and undue influence. G. L. (Ter. Ed.) c. 215, §§ 16, 22. What constitutes unsoundness of mind and undue influence will be found discussed in Marshall v. Cram, 269 Mass. 124, 168 N. E. 521, and Daly v. Hussey, 275 Mass. 28, 174 N. E. 916, and cases cited. No evidence was taken, but counsel for the parties made statements, which are reported, as to the evidence which they intended to present at a trial. Cook v. Mosher, 243 Mass. 149, 137 N. E. 299,Beal v. Davis, 251 Mass. 175, 146 N. E. 354. Statements in opposition to the motion, as well as in its support, may be considered. McIntosh v. McIntosh, 263 Mass. 315, 160 N. E. 814;Taylor v. Callahan, 265 Mass. 582, 164 N. E. 445;Swift v. Charest, 268 Mass. 47, 167 N. E. 250;Bacigalupo v. Cuneo, 277 Mass. 474, 178 N. E. 623. The question before us is whether, upon the statements of counsel, there appears to be ‘a real and true question of fact to be tried supported by evidence of a substantial nature’ (Fuller v. Sylvia, 240 Mass. 49, 53, 133 N. E. 384, 386,Sheppard v. Olney, 271 Mass. 424, 171 N. E. 447), giving ground for ‘a reasonable expectation of a result favorable to the party requesting the framing of issues.’ Johnson v. Loring, 267 Mass. 310, 311, 166 N. E. 622, 623. On this question, in which there is an element of discretion. ‘Weight is to be attributed to the decision of the probate judge,’ even though this court has before it everything that was before him. Bemis v. Andrews (Mass.) 182 N. E. 816, 817.

[4] John S. Cranston, the decedent, was an insurance broker, about sixty-six years old when he died on December 17, 1931. While in college, in 1889, he married his first wife, by whom he had two children, the contestants of the will. In 1900 he had erysipelas, and as a result was insane for about four months. After that, he resumed his business and apparently was normal. His first wife died in 1913. From 1911 until April 13, 1918, his first wife's mother lived with him and his children, and took charge of the house. On April 13, 1918, against the opposition of his children and his first wife's mother, he married Agnes T. Bache, the proponent of the will, a divorced woman with three children. Leaving his children and his first wife's mother in their old home, where he supported them generously, he moved with his second wife and her children to Wakefield. His children and his first wife's mother were unrelenting in their hostility to the second wife, and would have nothing to do with her. In 1919 his second wife induced him to sell the estate in Wakefield and to buy a house in Newton which was conveyed to them as joint tenants. She also induced him to open an account in a co-operative bank for her, to make a part of his life insurance payable to her, to attempt to make over to her certain commissions due from insurance companies,and to convey to her a piece of real estate of small value in New York.

On September 29, 1921, his daughter Harriet married Arthur Hallock. The decedent's second wife was not invited to the wedding, and objected strongly to the decedent's attending or giving any present, with the result that he did neither. Soon afterwards she caused the credit previously enjoyed by the first wife's mother and the decedent's children at the expense of the decedent to be cut off, except for a payment to the first wife's mother of $10 a month which...

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37 cases
  • Gill v. Richmond Co-Op. Ass'n, Inc.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 26 Mayo 1941
    ...National Bank v. Graustein, 270 Mass. 565, 170 N.E. 621;Eldridge v. Eldridge, 278 Mass. 309, 180 N.E. 137;Cranston v. Hallock, 281 Mass. 182, 183 N.E. 351;Graustein v. Dolan, 282 Mass. 579, 185 N.E. 489;Richmond Co-operative Association, Inc., v. Gill, 285 Mass. 50, 188 N.E. ...
  • Wellman v. Carter (In re Carter's Estate)
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 25 Mayo 1934
    ...on an appeal from a denial of a motion for such an issue heard upon statements of counsel has recently been stated in Cranston v. Hallock, 281 Mass. 182, 183 N. E. 351, and need not here be repeated. Having these principles in mind we consider the statements of counsel as to expected eviden......
  • Hannon v. Gorman
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 26 Enero 1937
    ...of discretion is vested in him which will be given weight on appeal. Bemis v. Andrews, 280 Mass. 409, 411, 182 N.E. 816;Granston v. Hallock, 281 Mass. 182, 183 N.E. 351. A recital of expected testimony as made on the one side and on the other would add nothing to the jurisprudence of the Co......
  • Gill v. Richmond Co-op. Ass'n
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 26 Mayo 1941
    ...Elevated Railway, 270 Mass. 330 . Westminster National Bank v. Graustein, 270 Mass. 565 . Eldridge v. Eldridge, 278 Mass. 309 . Cranston v. Hallock, 281 Mass. 182 . Graustein Dolan, 282 Mass. 579 . Richmond Co-operative Association, Inc. v. Gill, 285 Mass. 50 . --------- ...
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