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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


This note contained in document ADMS-05-01-02-0006-0004-0002
2. As to “Stephens v. Gerard,” see No. 15, notes 1713, 1814. The latter case and the others cited here are presumably drawn from William Nelson, Lex Testamentaria (London, 2d edn., 1724). This work, at p. 576, first compares the common-law rule of two witnesses for a will of goods and three witnesses for lands, to the varying rules of the civil law, the law of nations, and the canon law. It then cites Chadron v. Harris, Noy 12, 74 Eng. Rep. 983 (K.B., ca. 1605), apparently as holding an unsigned and unsealed will good where three witnesses were produced, two of whom “deposed on the Report of others, but the third had subscrib'd his Name to the Will.” According to the actual report, however, this case involved questions of the validity of a will in which no executor was named, and the power of the common-law courts to issue a writ of prohibition to the ecclesiastical court in a suit by a legatee under such a will, when administration had been granted despite the defect. The citation seems to have been misplaced in the margin of Lex Testamentaria by the printer, since the immediately preceding paragraph deals with prohibition in a similar matter. Sackville v. Brown, Keilw. 209, 72 Eng. Rep. 389 (C.P. 1558) was a case in which, according to Lex Testamentaria 571, “the Testator on his Death-bed desir'd another to write his Will, who took short Notes of it, and went Home to write it in Form, and soon return'd with it written, but before he came the Testator was dead; yet this was adjudg'd a good Will within the Statute 32 H. 8 [32 Hen. 8, c. 1 (1541)].” The report confirms this account.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/