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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


This foot note contained in document ADMS-05-01-02-0002-0001-0002
53. In JA 's hand. Pleadings Book, p. 31–[32]. The writ, dated 6 Feb. 1771, was probably drawn by Robert Treat Paine, who appeared for Brayton at the March 1771 Taunton Inferior Court, where the jury returned a verdict in Brayton's favor for possession and costs. On the appeal JA joined Paine as counsel for Brayton. At the Superior Court's Oct. 1773 term, again at Taunton, the prior judgment was affirmed. See Robinson v. Brayton, SCJ Rec. 1773, fol. 152; Min. Bk. 100, SCJ Bristol, Oct. 1773; SF 145772. The “writ of intrusion” is a form of writ of entry proper when the plaintiff (or “demandant” as he was technically known) was a remainderman or reversioner after a life estate, who had been ousted by an “intrusion” (an entry by a stranger after the life estate had terminated and before the remainderman had entered). See Stearns, Real Actions 49, 143, 179–180. For another form, see id. at 443–444. As to the requisites of pleadings in writs of entry generally, see id. at 149–161. Compare notes 29 13 , 30 14 , above, and No. 17, notes 3–7. Israel Brayton, plaintiff here, had received a reversionary interest in the lands in suit by devise from his grandfather, Preserved Brayton, who had died in 1761. Preserved in 1753 had assigned a life interest in the lands to his daughter-in-law, Ruth Brayton (Israel's mother), in lieu of her dower interest in certain lands once owned by her husband John Brayton, which she had not released. Previously, in 1736 Preserved had sold or given these lands, which included those in suit, to John under a duly recorded conveyance. John sold them back to Preserved in 1743, but seemingly destroyed the deed before it could be recorded. John then sold the property to William Sherman, but in 1744 Preserved was able to obtain possession in an action of ejectment against Sherman at the Superior Court, in which he was allowed to prove the making of his deed from John and that Sherman had had actual notice of it. In 1770 Ruth Brayton died, leaving her daughter Elizabeth Brayton Robinson in possession of the premises for which Israel sued. See documentation in SF 145772 and a summary of the title in Paine's hand in MHi:Photostats (1768). In opposition to Israel's suit Elizabeth apparently claimed that the 1743 conveyance from John to Preserved was ineffective and that she was entitled to a share in the property under her father's estate. JA 's minutes of the argument on this question show that he urged authorities to the effect that Preserved's 1744 judgment could be admitted as evidence of his title, and that, in the alternative, depositions and oral testimony as to the fate of the deed and its contents were admissible. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185. A note with JA 's Oct. 1772 Docket records that the “Court determined unanimously that Evidence should be admitted of the Deed from Jno. Brayton to his father and of the Destruction of it,” an apparent straightforward application of the so-called best evidence rule. Although this note indicates that the question was decided in Oct. 1772, the Paine Law Notes date the argument in Oct. 1773.