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Chilton v. Braiden's Administratrix, 67 U.S. 2 Black 458 458 (1862)

Chilton v. Braiden's Administratrix

67 U.S. (2 Black) 458


1. Purchase money is treated by courts of equity as a lien on the land sold where the purchaser has taken no separate security, and this is on the principle that one who gets the estate of another should not in conscience be allowed to keep it without paying for it.

2. This rule applies with as much force to the case of a purchase by a married woman as to any other case.

3. The disabilities imposed upon married women are intended for their protection, and the law will not allow them to be used as the means of committing fraud.

The appellee, Margaret Lyons, administratrix of Elizabeth Braiden, deceased, on February 12, 1857, filed her bill in the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia for the sale of part of square No. 226, in the City of Washington to enforce the payment of the purchase money due therefor, against Agnes R. Hazard, a married woman, who had purchased on the credit of her separate estate. O. E. P. Hazard, her husband, and Sam'l Chilton, her trustee, were joined with her as defendants.

The bill sets forth the sale of the property to Agnes R. Hazard -- as shown by the recitals of the deed -- the conveyance to Chilton, as trustee for her, and avers that the purchase money is due and unpaid. Mrs. Hazard filed her answer, admitting the sale and conveyance but denying that "the sum of $6,000 remains

Page 67 U. S. 459

due and unpaid," and

"she shows to the court that she fully satisfied the said Elizabeth in her lifetime with the said purchase money, and in proof thereof she exhibits with her answer, and will prove it when it shall be necessary to do so, the receipt of the said Elizabeth to her, bearing date the 12th day of September, 1856, whereby she acknowledged the payment to her, said Elizabeth, of the sum of five thousand eight hundred and fifty dollars in full of respondent's purchase of house and lot of her, sold on the 21st March, 1856,"

-- she cannot state when, where, or how, the said purchase money was paid and satisfied to said Elizabeth Braiden -- "she cannot state positively, of her own knowledge, that any sums of money were paid to her," and contends "that it is not material whether or not the whole amount of the sum of $6,000 was paid said Elizabeth, if she voluntarily gave a receipt in full." In this answer she relies on the receipt entirely, not stating any specific amount as having been paid. She denied the allegation of the bill, that her separate estate had no real existence, but failed to answer the interrogatories propounded mainly for the purpose of showing that she could not have paid for the property from her separate estate. Exceptions being filed, the court required her to answer the interrogatories. In her amended answer, she says some payments were made, but she does not know how much, "the whole matter being conducted by her husband, who held her separate estate." She again set up the receipt as an absolute defense. In answer to interrogatories she declared that she did not know how much was paid by her husband. The husband also answered, and so did the trustee. The plaintiff filed the general replication. The cause was set for hearing. The controversy was whether or not the purchase money had been satisfied and discharged, which necessarily involved the genuineness of the receipt.

The court directed issues to be made up and tried before a jury on the law side of the court. A jury was duly impaneled, and found for the plaintiff that the receipt set up was not the genuine receipt of Elizabeth Braiden.

The cause coming on for final hearing, the court passed a

Page 67 U. S. 460

decree that all the purchase money was due and ordered a sale of the property for the payment of it. The case came before this Court on an appeal from that decree.

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