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ecutor, with a general direction for payment of debts; and then, it is said, there is no inconsistency between the devise and the trusts, as the debts were meant to be paid by the devisee out of the personal estate, of which he is the executor. This for a single specimen'; but, on contracts for sale, many a title has been ruinously hung up in chancery, on a question in reality foreign to itself, and regarding only the will of a stranger.
Similar difficulties, it may be noticed, as frequently occur on the death of a mortgagee in fee; the legal estate in whose security descends to his heir or devisee; but clothed with an implied trust, first for bis executor or administrator, and then for the mortgagor ; while the money, the substantial part, devolves to the executor. The act already quoted provides for the inconvenience in this case also; but upon
the same vicious principle, of regarding the legal estate as something distinct from the lien.
• Should the trust be of a term, then it must be assigned by the personal representative of the deceased trustee. It sometimes happens that he dies insolvent, and no one proves his will or administers to him. It more frequently occurs (and, should the term be of any antiquity, must invariably be the case) that the personal representatives of the trustee are all dead, and his assets distributed; and then there is no occasion to administer further to bis effects. In each of these cases the useless charge of suing out a limited administration, (as it is called,) that is, so far only as respects the term, thus technically continued from the deceased, is cast upon the beneficial owner, in order to acquire a legal interest in his own property.'
Having thus depicted the three systems - (as they are called) which influence the enjoyment, the transmission, and the different liabilities of land, the author's second title treats of its consequent legal divisions. These are six in number, and in their origin wholly feudal : namely, 1. freehold at common law; 2. customary freehold; 3. ancient demesne ; 4. gavelkind; 5. borough English; 6. copyhold. The first is the general tenure of the land. The remaining five exist only by special custom, and, in particular places or districts. After being described, they are dismissed with the observation that 'to annul them, and to impart to the lands affected by them the simplicity of the general rules of alienation and descent, would be to confer a great benefit on the owners, without injury to the rights of others.' The rights of seignory, he observes, are of no value; and, after the great sacrifices made by the abolition of tenures at the Restoration, will scarcely bear mention.
The artificial burdens, or servitudes on land, are next adverted to.
These, also,' he remarks,' spring chiefly from feudality; as the royal privilege of the chase; whence forests, with their various privileges ;
. heirs,' and the intentions of those who use it. If an ignorant person wishes to vest the absolute property of land in his devisee, he gives it to him without using the word heirs. If he wishes to entail it upon him and his issue, he devises it to him and his heirs. By the construction of law the devisee takes, in direct opposition to the intention of the testator, an estate for life only in the first instance, an estate in fee simple in the second. There has not, perhaps, been a single term for the last 100 years in which some case upon this point has not arisen: and the adoption of the proposed rule would undoubtedly obviate an infinity of litigation both at law and in equity.
To put the question within the reach of the public at large, the author urges, that the general term conveys the absolute and unqualified meaning, while, says the law maxim, additio probat minoritatem.
• Where,' observes old Wingate, (whom he quotes as commenting on this rule,) 'you finde it said in any book, that a man is seised in fee without saying more, it shall be understood in fee-simple; and not in fee-taile, unlesse there be put unto it such an addition, fee-taile, &c. and, therefore, in heraldry, the younger sonnes give the differences. And in France, by Monsieur, (without any addition or other title,) is to be understood the king's onely brother, and by Madame, (without more, the king's onely sister ; and, therefore, they are said in French to be Monsieur sans queue, and Madame sans queue, viz. without any other addition or title. But if there be in France any occasion of naming any other lord or lady, they are always named with their proper and peculiar title, as Monsieur de Longville, Madame de Chevreuse, &c.' Surely, adds Mr. Humphreys, an absolute perpetuity may claim, with us, the privilege of passing sans queue.
On the great and much agitated subject of perpetuities, or (more strictly speaking) of the settlement of real property, by such limitations of it, as, during a certain period of time, will take it out of commerce, and suspend the vesting of the absolute ownership, Mr. Humphreys proposes, that land, or any protits accruing from it, may be aliened for the period of any life or lives in existence at the time of the deed being executed, or, (if the alienation be by will,) at the death of the testator-that it may also be aliened, either in possession, or so as to take effect on the death of the donor, or on the death of any tenant for life, to any person or class of persons, who may be living, or be conceived, when the disposition shall vest in possession; defeasible, however, on the death of the donee during infancy, or on any other assigned event within that limit. Substitutional limitations are next allowed under the same restrictions ; but all dispositions, to take effect at any more remote period, are declared to be void. The rules submitted by Mr. Humphreys for this purpose are
represented by bim as embodying and giving certainty and effect to the principles of our present laws of settlements, both as to lands and profits; and as remedial of the defects on this subject complained of in the first part of the essay. He adverts, however, to an useful effect indirectly produced by our present laws of settlement, of enabling a father, in consequence of the necessity for his concurrence in barring the entail by recovery, to procure a resettlement of the estate, and thus preserve it in the family. This power, he suggests, need not be relinquished ; and for preserving it he proposes that, during the father's life, the eldest or only son's expectant estate shall not be alienable nor extendible, unless with the father's concurrence. This, in the event of the son's dying without issue in his father's lifetime, would give the property, on the son’s death, to the brothers and sisters in the character of heirs.
These provisions would certainly be a great simplification of the present mode of settlement of real property. Years of study are required to comprehend it; and, when understood, none but the most skilful artists can be trusted with it. Even yet its principles are far from being distinctly settled; and their extent and application are still less ascertained. Hence great expense and litigation frequently follow, and legal instruments are immeasurably prolix ; numerous contingencies must be provided for, and language sinks under the necessity of describing and providing for them. It is always extremely difficult, and often quite impossible to explain to the parties themselves the effect and operation of the settlements they execute, or the effect of their wills. Does one testator in fifty, when he devises his property in strict settlement, clearly know to whom, or in what inanner, he has disposed of it?
The necessity (or at least the policy) has been long acknowledged in practice, of investing owners of limited interests in real property with certain powers, (as of selling, exchanging, and leasing,) which are now actually incident only to the absolute ownership. These incidents, now almost invariably given by express provision, Mr. Humphreys proposes to annex by law, to the partial estates in question-the two first to be made exerciseable at the instance of all tenants for life in possession, with remainder to their issue; the latter by the parties themselves being in actual possession. To this annexation of the power of leasing we can discover no sound objection; but the mode of rendering those of sale and exchange available appears to us to demand the author's further consideration.
All Charges on land are either in respect of some annual payments, or for securing a principal sum of money. Charges of
the first description our author would restrict to the term of a life, annexing the power of distraining, as an incident inseparably attending them. Principal charges, by way of mortgage or portion, are dealt with in a manner which will probably surprize the legal reader; but which we shall present without venturing any remark.
Mr. Humphreys does not allow of the creation of a term of years, or a legal fee, for securing them. All he admits is a charge, which binds the land, and is to authorize the person, entitled to the money secured by it, to enforce its raising by sale, through the medium of a summary process before the clerk of the peace for the county where the land is situate. Provisions are then made for the dae application of the purchase money, according to the priority of incumbrances; which he would no longer permit to be disturbed by the unjust and pernicious privilege of tacking; and the remedy of distress is given in the case of mortgagees and portioners, a novel power) for enforcing the payment of interest. The rules both of law and equity on the subject of Powers would; it is obvious, be greatly contracted by the proposed abolition of all distinction between legal and equitable estates, and by requiring all dispositions to be made directly to the person in whose favour the power is executed. In the chapter relating to Powers Mr. Humphreys suggests other advantages with which his system will be attended. One of his principal objects in this article is, to assimilate appointments (especially as to the formalities in the execution of the instruments by which they are inade) to other legal instruments. No person is to be allowed to prescribe other formalities; and no appointment is to be valid, even in equity, without them. This provision we think will prove highly beneficial: while we acquiesce entirely in the author's canon that
every abolition of needless distinction and formality affords a correspondent clearness of right and protection against litigation. We cannot extend our observations on this part of the subject further than by remarking, that one of the most important objects which Mr. Humphreys professes to entertain in this place, regards the now interminable questions on the doctrines of exclusive and illusory appointments, which he proposes to settle by one clear and intelligible principle of provision, to the evident extinction of a great mass of uncertainty and consequent litigation.
Under the head of joint property Mr. Humphreys proposes, that no interest shall pass by survivorship without an express provision. The right, though consonant with the principles of feudal law, he represents as opposed to the present habits of society, and, as such, always discountenanced by our courts of equity. 7
The rights of creditors (considered as inter vivos) attach upon both the real and personal property of the party indebted, in such
tedious and costly litigation,' which the strange anomalies of
the one both at law and in equity, and the other in equity exclusively; the former taking effect through the medium of powers, and admitting of land being rendered alienable, under what is technically called, a power of appointment; while in equity, in addition to such powers, property may be vested in trustees, for the sole use and enjoyment of a wife, free from the controul either of the husband or of his creditors.
"Whether all, or only a part, of these rights should subsist, is' (adds the author) ' a question for legislative decision; but surely it is, at all events, fit, that three discordant systems, the first obsolete in principle, and the other two acting unequally, and by indirect means, should give way to one uniform, intelligible class of rights.'
In the ensuing section, which treats of alienation by Deed, or act inter vivos, after enumerating the various technical modes of alienation subsisting at law, the author proceeds to a concession in favour of mere equitable assurances, which it somewhat surprized us to meet with, and which might have inclined us to view the whole existing system with șoine complacency, had it not been followed up by a vivid, though we think not overcharged, delineation of the technical fictions and refinements which
pervade every description of legal instruments.
Compared with the formalities, the fictions, and the circuities of legal assurances, they' (viz. assurances which pass equitable interests)
surprize us' (observes the author) ' with a simplicity and directness of purpose which would satisfy the most zealous advocate for these desirable qualities; it being sufficient, that the transaction be in writing, without any set forms, or technical expressions. This and other similar instances evince that, to a considerable extent, our laws of property may be reformed merely by selecting, without innovating.
' In legal dispositions inter vivos, however, of landed property, we should greatly err in conceiving that, when the mode of assurance is once determined the substance may be executed with precision and simplicity; or that every disposition finally resolves itself into one of other of the foregoing modes.
This he proceeds to illustrate by two specimens of assurances of the most opposite character; a mere conveyance on a sale, and a settlement on marriage; and more striking examples could not be given of the uncertainty of title, doubtful rights, and
this branch of the system occasion; and which the blunders of unskilful, and the artifices of designing practitioners, augment and perpetuate. The passage in which he gravely solicits the attention of his reader, on the occasion of a simple purchase deed, to the technical distinction between an appointment of the use, under a past assurance, to the purchaser, instead of to the subs quent limitations for his benefit,' somewhat reminds us of the ri