The verification of the answer* filed on the 11th day of June, 1898, “The foregoing answer of the defendants is true of his own knowledge, except those matters stated on information and belief, and he believes these to be true,” is a substantia] compliance with sec. 258 of The Code. Cole v. Boyd, 125 N. C., 496; Payne v. Boyd, Ibid, 499; Phifer v. Insurance Company, 123 N. C., 410. That section says the verification must be “in effect” as therein prescribed, and the cases cited hold that a verbal and literal following of the formula prescribed is not necessary.
The plaintiffs bring this action for the recovery of real estate as heirs-at-law of Eelix Fleming who conveyed it by deed to his wife, Ailey, in 1841, but without using the words “her heirs.” She married, after the death of her said husband, one Holly Tew, and the complaint avers that the defendants are holding under* mesne conveyances from Ailey Tew,the grantee of the life estate aforesaid, who died in 1895. The original action in this cause was instituted in 1895, and, having terminated by a non-suit, this action was begun within one year thereafter. The answer denies that the defendants hold under Ailey Tew, but avers that they hold under Holly Tew, by conveyances from his widow and children, and plead the statute of limitations.
*221For further defecase the defendants allege that the said deed from Felix Fleming to Ailey Fleming, which the plaintiffs allege conveyed only a life estate to Ailey, was intended by the parties thereto to convey a fee-simple, that the words “her heirs” were omitted by mutual mistake and inadvertence of the parties thereto, and ask for a correction and reformation of the deed to convey a fee-simple.
The defendants had a right to plead inconsistent defenses if separately stated, as was here done. Clark’s Code, sec. 245, (3d Ed.), and cases cited. It was also competent in order to avoid multiplicity of suits to ask for the correction of the deed in the answer, for the defendants could not, as under the former system of pleading, have obtained an injunction against proceedings at law to recover the realty until the termination of their own proceedings in equity for the correction of the deed. The plaintiffs filed no reply to the allegation of grounds for a decree for reformation of the deed, and his Honor gave judgment by default-. The plaintiffs contend that this was error upon the ground this was not, a counterclaim because the defendants could not have maintained an independent action therefor, which is the test between a matter of defense which requires no reply (Code, sec. 268), and a counterclaim. Askew v. Koonce, 318 N. C., 526. Since chap. 6, of the Acts of 1893, however, the defendants, though in possession, could have brought such action to remove a cloud upon the title, and it is therefore a valid counterclaim, and not a more matter of defense, as it would have been theretofore, but the judgment by default is erroneous for a different reason. Now, by virtue of the constitutional provision (Art. X, sec. 6), it is held that a deed from the hnshand to the wife is valid. Walker v. Long, 109 N. C., 510, which has been followed in Fort v. Allen, 110 N. C., 183, and Sydnor v. Boyd, 119 N. C., 481, and cases there cited. Bnt. under *222the law governing the property rights of married women, as it existed in 1843, the conveyance, if it had been executed as a fee-simple- deed to the wife, would have been void at law, and sustainable 'in equity only upon meritorious consideration. Warlick v. White, 86 N. C., 189. The court of equity would not correct a deed to insert the word “heirs,” though omitted by inadvertence of the draftsman or by mutual mistake, unless the deed is supported by a meritorious consideration. Powell v. Morisey, 98 N. C., 426, and cases there cited. The answer contains no averment of meritorious consideration, and the marital relation would per se be a meritorious consideration only for the wife’s maintenance, i. for the life estate actually conveyed, and would not, no other consideration appearing, authorize the correction of the deed into a fee-simple. Taking the answer in this respect to be true because undenied by a reply, it did not authorize the judgment rendered by default for correction of the deed.