Lowndes v. Board of Trustees of Huntington

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Lowndes v. Board of Trustees of Huntington by David Josiah Brewer
Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

153 U.S. 1

Lowndes  v.  Board of Trustees of Huntington

This was an action by the board of trustees of the town of Huntington against Theodore Lowndes to recover possession of certain lands under water, brought in a court of the state of New York, and removed to the United States circuit court. That court directed a verdict for plaintiff (40 Fed. 625), and judgment was entered thereon. Defendant brings error.

On September 1, 1888, the defendant in error commenced an action in the supreme court of the state of New York for the county of Suffolk. Its complaint alleged that 'the trustees of the freeholders and commonalty of the town of Huntington and their successors' were a body corporate, created and incorporated by and under three charters granted,-the first by Richard Nicolls, governor general under James, duke of York, of all his territories in America, and dated November 30, 1666; the second by Thomas Dongan, governor general of the province of New York under James the Second, king of England, and dated August 2, 1688; and the third by Benjamin Fletcher, governor general under William and Mary, and dated October 5, 1694.

It also alleged that the plaintiff was the lawful successor of the said trustees, etc., and as such, and by virtue of said patents and charters, and the laws of the state of New York, was the lawful owner and seised in fee, subject to the right of navigation, of a certain described tract of land of about 300 acres, lying under water in Huntington bay, in the town of Huntington, and that as such owner it was entitled to the exclusive possession and use thereof for oyster cultivation.

The complaint further charged that the defendant had theretofore exercised, and still exercised, acts of ownership upon said lands, and claimed title thereto and a right to the exclusive possession thereof; that he had planted, or caused to be planted, oysters thereon, and unlawfully withheld the lands from the plaintiff.

There was also an allegation of notice to quit, and a prayer for judgment against the defendant for the immediate and exclusive control of the premises. The defendant, who was a citizen of the state of Connecticut, having been brought in by publication, removed the case to the circuit court of the United States for the eastern district of New York. In that court he filed an answer denying plaintiff's title, and pleading possession since 1866. Thereafter, on the 14th of November, 1889, the case was tried before a jury, and at the close thereof the court directed a verdict for the plaintiff. On the verdict a judgment was duly rendered, and to reverse such judgment this writ of error was sued out.

The map below shows the locality of the disputed premises. The defendant's oyester bed is marked A.

Jas. C. Carter, for plaintiff in error.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 4-18 intentionally omitted]

David B. Hill, N. S. Ackerley, C. R. Street, and Thos. R. Young, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice BREWER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.


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).