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United States Supreme Court

26 U.S. 232

Horsburg  v.  Baker

ON an appeal from the Circuit Court, for the district of Kentucky. The facts and the pleadings in the case, are fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

The cause was argued by Mr. Wickliffe, on the part of the appellants; no counsel appearing for the appellees. The following points were stated in the argument, by Mr. Wickliffe.--

1. The loan made in 1784, and as further evidenced, by the deed of confirmation of 1787, was valid, as between the parties to it; and as Baker and wife are proved, in 1813, to be in possession of the negroes, and of a copy, or the original deed of 1781 is admitted, they are estopped from asserting any title to said slaves, which they may have had prior to that deed.

2. The deed of 1787, having been duly recorded in the proper office, on the 4th of July 1787, was notice to all the world; and the subsequent removal of the slaves out of the state of Virginia, without the knowledge and consent of Hosburg, did not destroy the legal effect of that deed, or convert the loan into an absolute title, in Baker and wife.

3. Baker and wife cannot rely upon the lapse of time, or the length of possession, to defeat the right of Horsburg, and those claiming under them.

4. The Court, in this cause, had jurisdiction upon two grounds; the one, arising from the nature of the contract, and its subject matter; the other, from the peculiar circumstances of the case, the difficulty of proving and identifying the slave Charlotte and her increase, without the aid of a discovery on oath; and the repeated attempts by the defendants, and the just fears of the complainant, that the negroes would be secreted, and removed out of the jurisdiction of the Court.

When Courts of Chancery take jurisdiction upon the ground of discovery, or upon any other ground, they will retain the cause for the purpose of granting full relief.

By the Act of Assembly of Virginia, of 1758, a parol gift of slaves was void. 1 Wash. Rep. 339, 331.

The parties to a trust of real or personal property, may resort to a Court of Equity to avail themselves of its benefits. 1 Mad. Chancery, 446.

Between the cestuy que trust, and his trustee, the statutes of limitation, or lapse of time, are no bar. 1 Mad. 453. 2 Vez. 680.

Baker and wife were trustees of the slave and her issue, for the persons entitled to the reversion of them, under the deed of Alexander Horsburg; and they were not authorized to dispose of them; and the sale made by them, while the suit was pending, was void as to the cestuy que trust. 2 Johns. Chan. Cas. 441. 4 Ibid. 136.

As to jurisdiction in this cause, and it being a case for relief in Chancery. 3 Vez. jun. 71.

Slaves, the property of the wife, vest in the husband without being redeemed into possession. 1 Mar. Rep. 517.

Mr. Chief Justice MARSHALL 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).