Jerome Pillow, Plaintiff In Error v. Truman Roberts

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtGRIER
Citation54 U.S. 472,13 How. 472,14 L.Ed. 228
Decision Date01 December 1851
PartiesJEROME B. PILLOW, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR, v. TRUMAN ROBERTS

54 U.S. 472
13 How. 472
14 L.Ed. 228
JEROME B. PILLOW, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR,
v.
TRUMAN ROBERTS.
December Term, 1851

THIS case was brought up, by writ of error, from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The circumstances of the case, and the points of law upon which it came up to this court, are fully stated in its opinion.

It was argued by Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Pike, for the plaintiff in error, and Mr. Crittenden, for the defendant in error.

Mr. Justice GRIER delivered the opinion of the court.

Roberts, the defendant in error, was plaintiff below, in an action of ejectment for 160 acres of land. Pillow, the defendant below, pleaded the general issue, and two special pleas: The first, setting forth a sale of the land in dispute, for taxes more than five years before suit brought: The second, pleading the statute of limitation of ten years. These pleas were overruled on special demurrer, as informal and insufficient; and the judgment of the court on this subject is here alleged as error. But as the same matters of defence were afterwards offered to be laid before the jury on the trial of the general issue and overruled

Page 473

by the court, it will be unnecessary to further notice the pleas; as the defence set up by them, if valid and legal, should have been received and submitted to the jury on the trial. In the action of ejectment, (with the exception, perhaps, of a plea to the jurisdiction,) any and every defence to the plaintiff's recovery may be given in evidence under the general issue. And as the decision of the court on the bills of exception will reach every question appertaining to the merits of the case, it will be unnecessary to decide whether those merits were sufficiently set forth in the special pleas, to which the defendant was not bound to resort for the purpose of having the benefit of his defence.

On the trial, the plaintiff below gave in evidence a patent for the land in dispute, from the United States to Zimri V. Henry, dated 7th May, 1835; and then offered a deed from said Henry to himself, dated 10th November, 1849. This deed purported to be acknowledged before the clerk of the Circuit Court of Walworth county, in the State of Wisconsin, and was objected to, 1st. Because there was no proof of the identity of the grantor with the patentee other than the certificate contained in the acknowledgment. 2dly. Because the certificate of acknowledgment was not on the same piece of paper that contained the deed, but on a paper attached to it by wafers. And 3dly. Because the seal of the Circuit Court authenticating the acknowledgment was an impression stamped on paper, and not 'on wax, wafer, or any other adhesive or tenacious substance.'

The first two of these grounds of objection have not been urged in this court, and very properly abandoned as untenable. The third has been insisted on, and deserves some more attention. Formerly wax was the most convenient, and the only material used to receive and retain the impression of a seal. Hence it was said: 'Sigillum est cera impressa; quia cera, sine impressione, non est sigillum.' But this is not an allegation, that an impression without wax is not a seal. And for this reason courts have held, that an impression made on wafers or other adhesive substance capable of receiving an impression, will come within the definition of 'cera impressa.' If, then, wax be construed to be merely a general term including within it any substance capable of receiving and retaining the impression of a seal, we cannot perceive why paper, if it have that capacity, should not as well be included in the category. The simple and powerful machine, now used to impress public seals, does not require any soft or adhesive substance to receive or retain their impression. The impression made by such a power on paper is as well defined, as durable, and less likely to be destroyed or defaced by vermin, accident, or intention, than that made on

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wax. It is the seal which authenticates, and not the substance on which it is impressed; and where the court can recognize its identity, they should not be called upon to analyze the material which exhibits it. In Arkansas, the presence of wax is not necessary to give validity to a seal; and the fact that the public officer in Wisconsin had not thought proper to use it, was sufficient to raise the presumption that such was the law or custom in Wisconsin, till the contrary was proved. It is time that such objections to the validity of seals should cease. The court did not err, therefore, in overruling the objections to the deed offered by the plaintiff.

After the plaintiff had closed his testimony, the defendant offered in evidence two certain deeds from Miller Irwin, sheriff of Phillips county, and assessor and collector of taxes therein, to Richard Davidson, dated on the 22d of October, 1844; one for the north half, and the other for the south half of the quarter section of land now in dispute. On objection, the court refused to permit these deeds to be received, and sealed a bill of exceptions. The defendant then offered the same deeds to Davidson, and in connection therewith, a deed from Davidson to Armstrong, and also a deed from Armstrong to the defendant; and to accompany them with proof of possession by himself and those under whom he claims, for more than ten years, as to the south half of said land, and more than five years as to the whole of it. The plaintiff objected to this evidence. 'And it was by the court ruled, that the possession...

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106 practice notes
  • Philbin v. Carr, No. 9825.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 23, 1920
    ...that his occupancy is under a claim of right. In other words, that his possession is adverse. Pillow v. Roberts, 13 How. (U. S.) 472, 14 L. Ed. 228. That is all very true. But the fact that the possession has been adverse may be shown also by spoken words-as in cases of parol gifts or attem......
  • Wenke v. Gehl Co., No. 01-2649.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 7, 2004
    ...259 (1979); Weber v. Bd. of Harbor Comm'rs, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 57, 70, 21 L.Ed. 798 (1873); Pillow v. Roberts, 54 U.S. (13 How.) 472, 477, 14 L.Ed. 228 (1851); Titus v. Wells Fargo Bank & Union Trust Co., 134 F.2d 223, 224 (5th Cir.1943); Cent. Pac. Ry. v. Costa, 84 Cal.App. 577, 258 P. 991......
  • Philbin v. Carr, 9,825
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 23, 1920
    ...his occupancy is under a claim of right; in other words, that his possession is adverse. Pillow v. Roberts (1851), 13 How. (U.S.) 472, 14 L.Ed. 228. That is all very true. But the fact that the possession has been adverse may be shown also by spoken words -- as in cases of parol gifts or at......
  • National Surety Corp. v. Smith
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • November 5, 1941
    ...period, the defendants cite Dufur v. Healy, 56 Or. 49, 107 P. 692; Martin v. White, 53 Or. 319, 100 P. 290; and Pillow v. Roberts, 54 U.S. 472, 14 L.Ed. 228. 168 Or. 277 It is true that Martin v. White contains statements, repeated in part by quotation in Dufur v. Healy, which inferentially......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
106 cases
  • Philbin v. Carr, No. 9825.
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 23, 1920
    ...that his occupancy is under a claim of right. In other words, that his possession is adverse. Pillow v. Roberts, 13 How. (U. S.) 472, 14 L. Ed. 228. That is all very true. But the fact that the possession has been adverse may be shown also by spoken words-as in cases of parol gifts or attem......
  • Wenke v. Gehl Co., No. 01-2649.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • July 7, 2004
    ...259 (1979); Weber v. Bd. of Harbor Comm'rs, 85 U.S. (18 Wall.) 57, 70, 21 L.Ed. 798 (1873); Pillow v. Roberts, 54 U.S. (13 How.) 472, 477, 14 L.Ed. 228 (1851); Titus v. Wells Fargo Bank & Union Trust Co., 134 F.2d 223, 224 (5th Cir.1943); Cent. Pac. Ry. v. Costa, 84 Cal.App. 577, 258 P.......
  • Philbin v. Carr, 9,825
    • United States
    • Indiana Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • November 23, 1920
    ...his occupancy is under a claim of right; in other words, that his possession is adverse. Pillow v. Roberts (1851), 13 How. (U.S.) 472, 14 L.Ed. 228. That is all very true. But the fact that the possession has been adverse may be shown also by spoken words -- as in cases of parol gifts or at......
  • National Surety Corp. v. Smith
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • November 5, 1941
    ...period, the defendants cite Dufur v. Healy, 56 Or. 49, 107 P. 692; Martin v. White, 53 Or. 319, 100 P. 290; and Pillow v. Roberts, 54 U.S. 472, 14 L.Ed. 228. 168 Or. 277 It is true that Martin v. White contains statements, repeated in part by quotation in Dufur v. Healy, which inferentially......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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