Green v. Green
APPEAL from the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. The case was thus:
Thomas Green, by deed dated January 15th, 1867, conveyed certain real estate in Georgetown, D. C., to James Green, in fee in trust. The trust was in these words:
'For the sole and separate use of Catharine Green (wife of the said Thomas) and for the children of said Thomas Green and Catharine Green, during her life, in absolute right and property, as if she was a feme sole, and free and clear of any right, title, and estate, whether as tenants by the curtesy or otherwise, of her present or any future husband, and from his control and from any liability for his debts, and upon trust and to hold and dispose of and convey the said premises in such manner and to such uses, interest, and purposes as she, the said Catharine Green, may from time to time direct, by any last will and testament, or other testamentary writing, of what form soever, which she, the said Catharine Green, notwithstanding her present or any future coverture, shall and may direct, limit, and appoint; and in the absence of any such direction, limitation, or appointment, or subject thereto, or remainder after her death, to her heirs-at-law of the said Catharine Green.'On the 21st of November, 1868, James Green, as trustee, and Thomas Green and Catharine Green united in a deed to one Ward, whereby they conveyed to him in fee simple the premises described in the deed first set forth, in trust to secure the payment of a note for $6000, payable six months from date, with interest, and bearing even date with the deed, payable to the order of Lewis Wells. At this time Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Green had two daughters, both under age.
This note having matured, and continuing unpaid, Ward, at the request of Wells, advertised the premises for sale, and was proceeding to a sale thereof under the power contained in the deed to Ward.
Hereupon Mrs. Green, and the two infant daughters by their guardian, filed a bill in the court below-the bill in this case against the trustee, the husband, and Ward, alleging that the deed to Ward was improvidently executed; that Mrs. Green had no power to appoint or limit the fee simple of the premises therein described by deed, but only by a last will and testament, or a testamentary writing; that the deed to Ward was accordingly void; that the powers contained in it were unauthorized by the deed of trust to James Green for their benefit; that the title obtained under the deed to Ward would impair the equitable title of the said Mrs. Green and of her children under the deed for her and their benefit, and asking that the deed to Ward might be set aside, and an injunction issue restraining Ward from selling under the alleged authority of the deed to him.
The trustee and the husband answered, admitting the facts as alleged.
Ward answered denying that the deed was void. His position was that under the rule in Shelley's case, the wife becam , by the conveyance in trust to James Green, the owner of the property in fee simple; that the estate granted to her for life, and the remainder to her heirs-at-law, being both equitable estates, united in her as an estate of inheritance, and without reference to the exercise of the power of appointment; that, being the owner of the fee, her deed to Ward carried the full title to him.
The court below decreed a perpetual injunction, and that the defendant Ward, be absolutely enjoined and prohibited from selling, or attempting to sell, the property described in the trust deed, except the life interest of Mrs. Green in one-third thereof, and that the defendants below pay the costs of suit.
From this decree the defendants appealed to this court.
Messrs. L. S. Wells and W. B. Webb, for the plaintiff in error; Mr. W. S.C.ox, contra.
Mr. Justice HUNT delivered the opinion of the court.