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the Presbytery of St. Louis was the true Presbytery, was final, and that it was not for the civil courts to review their decision.
PENNSYLVANIA. SUPREME COURT. — Elder v. Reel. The court in this case decides that a divorce decreed by a court not having jurisdiction of the respondent has no extraterritorial effect, even though process has been duly served upon him.
It was further held that a woman abandoned by her husband who afterwards committed adultery, was not barred of her dower by the Statute of Westminster 2. The court dwell on the lines given by Lord Coke:
“ Sponte virum mulier fugiens et adultera facta
Dote sua careat, nisi sponsi sponte retracta." A like decision was made in Graham v. Law, 6 U. C. C. P. 310; but on the other hand in the case of Woodward v. Dowse, 10 C. B. (N. 8.) 722 (to which the court do not refer), it was held that a woman forseits her dower, though her original departure was in consequence of her husband's cruelty. Willes, J., says, “The best construction of the statute seems to be that the leaving sponte is not of the essence of the offence which leads to the forfeiture. It is enough, if, after having left her husband's house, the woman afterwards commits adultery.” Elder v. Reel is reported in the Legal Intelligencer.
VERMONT. SUPREME COURT. — Joseph Richardson v. The Vt. & Mass. R. R. Co. In Chancery, Windham County, Oct. 1, 1869. This was a bill praying that funds in the treasury of the defendants should be appropriated in payment of interest on subscriptions to the capital stock of the company. It appeared that, by vote of Nov. 21, 1844, it was provided that subscribers should be paid interest on all sums paid by them up to the time when the road should be completed. The road was not completed until April 15, 1849; and the interest for the six and one-half months prior to the last date remained unprovided for until Feb. 9, 1853, when it was voted by the stockholders to adjust the unpaid " interest dividends.” And the treasurer was, by vote of the directors, Feb. 22, 1853, authorized to issue certificates therefor, “ payable on the 15th of July, 1856, to holders of stock on the 15th of April, 1849, or to their order, with this express understanding and agreement, that if there is not sufficient money in the treasury to meet the whole amount of said dividend on the day that it falls due (July 15, 1856), the holders of said scrip shall each and every of them receive, pro rata, so much as the treasurer is able to pay, and as soon thereafter as the treasurer is able to pay the balance due on said interest scrip, he shall give due notice," &c. The bill alleged that the company had funds in the treasury which it intended to apply in payment of a dividend among the general stockholders ; and an injunction was granted against such an appropriation of the funds until the interest scrip had been paid.
The defendant denied that the vote of Nov. 21, 1844, and the issue of the scrip were within the corporate powers of the company; and alleged that the agreement was tantamount to paying back a part of the capital of the company; that if any valid contract existed, the complainants had an adequate remedy at law.
Chancellor Barrett held that it was within the corporate powers of the company to pass the vote of Nov. 21, 1844; that the purpose, reason, and character of the vote were proper, and not contrary to any principle, rule, or policy of the law; that it was made with reference to a period of the enterprise when the ability of the company to go forward with it was depending on money to be realized from subscriptions to the capital stock, and the assessments to be paid thereupon, a failure to pay which might seriously embarrass the prosecution of the enterprise ; that the original vote, and that authorizing the issue of scrip for the unpaid interest, were not in the nature of a declaration of dividends in anticipation of future earnings; nor of an undertaking to pay dividends out of the capital stock; or dividends in the ordinary sense of a distribution of profits among stockholders, for the latter implies that all dues to creditors have been satisfied. In the opinion of the Chancellor, therefore, the holders of the scrip had a right superior to that of mere stockholders.
The Chancellor also held that the agreement to pay interest on subscriptions was not in the nature of a rebate from assessments on stock; that, on the true construction of the vote and scrip, the holders were not to be paid except out of the net earnings of the road (Barnard v. Vt. & Mass. R. R. Co., 7 Allen, 512); and that a sufficient consideration for such agreement might be found in the fact that money was thereby obtained for the construction of the road.
In relation to the jurisdiction in equity, the court held that the votes constituted an appropriation of the first net earnings in the treasury to the payment of the scrip, in such a sense that it gave the scripholders a right to have it applied in priority of the right of the company to have the amount distributed among stockholders ; that by accepting the scrip the holders were precluded from enforcing their claim in any other way than that prescribed ; that the just appropriation of the fund might require a marshalling and distribution, involving the taking an account of all the scrip outstanding, and by whom held; and that the fact that the complainants were entitled to be paid out of a specific fund gave them a remedy in equity. “It is not true," says the Chancellor, " that because a party might enforce the satisfaction of his claim by a suit at law, therefore he cannot resort to a court of equity."
Decree for the complainants.
GREAT BRITAIN. DEATH OF MR. JUSTICE HAYES. — Mr. Justice Hayes, one of the three new judges who were appointed, one to each of the Superior Courts, when the judges were given jurisdiction over the hearings of the Election Petitions (See 3 Am. Law Rev. 181), has just deceased. He was born in 1805, called to the bar in 1830, made sergeant-at-law in 1856, and judge of the Court of Queen's Bench in 1868. We notice a report that his place is not to be filled up, which, if true, would seem to indicate the adoption of the recommendations made by the Judicature Commission as to the reorganization of the courts.
BANKRUPTCY PRIVILEGE. — Lord Justice Giffard, reversing a decision of Mr. Commissioner Winslow, in the case of the Duke of Newcastle, bas decided that
the Duke, though a pcer and a member of parliament, is yet liable to be adjudged a bankrupt.
We would earnestly call the attention of the profession to the following letter. There are few lawyers who have not at one time or another come across some unhappy wretch wasting time and money and hope in the vain pursuit of “ British gold.” Perhaps in some such case this letter may work a salutary, if unwelcome cure.
LAMB-BUILDING, TEMPLE. TO THE EDITOR OF THE NEW ORLEANS TIMES.
Will you permit me through your columns to send a word of warning to the public against a scheme of swindling which is now extensively practised in the United States ?
Since my call to the English bar hundreds of letters have reached me from Louisiana and other parts of the Union, written by persons, many of whom are educated and intelligent, making inquiries relative to estates represented as existing in this country unclaimed, and awaiting the appearance of heirs residing in America. In every instance that has come to my knowledge the statements are false, and evidently made for the purpose of defrauding parties out of sums, large or small, under pretext of paying the costs of records, copies, &c., said to be necessary for the assertion of the pretended claim.
One case may be selected as an example. A banker by the name of James Wood died in Gloucester in the year 1836, leaving a fortune of about £800,000. His will was the subject of much litigation, but was finally decided to be valid, and the estate was ordered to be divided among the legatees, under a decision of the House of Lords, in 1847. Any one desirous of having particulars of the litigation can trace it through the different courts as follows: (1.) In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, reported in 2 Curteis, 82. (2.) An appeal to the Privy Council, in 2 Moore's Privy Council Cases, 355. And (3.) In the House of Lords in the case entitled The Corporation of Gloucester v. Osborne, 1 H. L. Cas. 272. Although his estate has thus been finally settled and distributed for more than twenty years, I do not at all exaggerate in stating that not a month passes without my receiving one or more letters from persons who are approached by some pretended agent of some imaginary great firm of London solicitors, engaged in seeking for the heirs of the great intestate banker, James Wood, whose fortune, amounting to ten millions sterling, is lying in the Bank of England awaiting a claimant.
The usual mode of proceeding adopted is to propose to undertake the business frec of expense, the proposer to receive only a share of what may be recovered. This seems so reasonable that in most cases the dupe readily swallows the bait. A short time afterwards he is informed that all inquiries and researches have resulted favorably, and that nothing is wanted to insure success except the cost of a few copies of records and other papers, and that the proposer having already incurred great expense in conducting the necessary inquiries and researches, is left without resources at the very moment when a few pounds would suffice to secure the fruits of his labor and expenditure. Many are the victims from whom sums, varying from £20 to £500, have been thus extracted, and the number of persons engaged in this system must be very great, and the sums received by them very considerable, if at all in proportion to the number of letters received here on the subject. Many thousands of pounds are known to have been expended by those who could ill afford to bear the loss, in the pursuit of the great Jennings estate; and some of those who have spent money in this way have actually been deluded into writing to me their conviction that they were entitled to dislodge the present Duke of Marlborough from Blenheim Castle, by virtue of their descent from the famous Duchess, Sarah Jennings.
Most of the persons who are duped are ignorant on two points, which, in nearly every instance, would satisfy them at once of the utter folly of the hopes they indulge. The first is that an alien cannot be an heir in England when there is no will, and that he cannot take real estate even if left to him by will. The second is that, in England, estates devolve upon the eldest son alone, and on his eldest son in succession and are not divided in shares among all the children, as in Louisiana and other States. Yet nothing is more common than for persons to assert heirship to the supposed shares of younger brothers and sisters, or to claim, as natives of the United States, heirship to Englishmen who have left no wills.
In the hope that this exposure will be of some use to my fellow-citizens, in whose welfare I retain the deepest interest, and may protect them to some extent from the sharpers who are plundering them, I remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. P. BENJAMIN.
MEASURE OF DAMAGES. — The following extract from an article in the Law Times for Nov. 13, 1869, shows that the gig still continues a standard of social position in England:
“This is illustrated by the other case to which we have referred. There a verdict of 501. was given in an action for seduction of the plaintiff's daughter, and a curious attempt was made to upset the verdict on the ground that evidence of the defendant's position in life had been improperly admitted. The Lord Chief Justice said that he believed that it was generally considered that damages in an action of this nature ought to range from 201. to 501. as being equivalent to an affiliation order, and that evidence of the defendant's position was admissible to bring the amount of damages up to the higher or down to the lesser amount. We doubt whether his Lordship was right in saying that damages in this action are to be taken as equivalent to an affiliation order. The damages are compensation to the mother, in the capacity of a master, for the loss of the daughter's services, and there is nothing to prevent the daughter obtaining an affiliation order irrespective of the proceedings on the part of the mother. In this case the court carried the principle of compensation a long way, for it was shown that the girl was an assistant of her sister in a millinery business. This sister supported the mother in consideration that she would attend to the household work. The girl seduced practically never assisted her mother in the house, but it was understood that she was to do so if required. The mother sued, and it being proved that the defendant kept a horse and gig, — this being the evidence to which exception was taken at the trial, — the defendant was mulcted in 501.”