Crump v. Black, 41 N.C. 321, 6 Ired. Eq. 321 (1849)

Dec. 1849 · Supreme Court of North Carolina
41 N.C. 321, 6 Ired. Eq. 321


Where A , in right of his wife, was entitled to a distributive share of a personal estate, and, in consideration of an assignment thereof, procured a conveyance to be made to his wife of certain lands by B., and the deed was never registered ; and afterwards A. persuaded his wife to let this deed be surrendered and procured a conveyance of the same land to be made to himself, and then sold the land to C,, who was a Iona fide purchaser, for a valuable consideration and without notice. Held, that the heirs of the wife, after her death, had no equitable claim for this land against C.

Where both parties are equally entitled to consideration, Equity does not aid either, but leaves the matter to depend upon the legal title.

Where a Iona fide purchaser, for a valuable consideration, without notice, has acquired the legal title, a Court of Equity will not interfere to deprive him of his legal advantage.

The only cases, in which the Court of Equity will interfere to set up an incomplete legal title, are those against volunteers.

The cases of Tolar v. Tolar, 1 Dev. Eq. 457, Tate v. Tate, 1 Dev. & Bat. Eq. 22, and Tyson v. Harrington, cited and approved.

Cause removed from the Court of Equity of Mecklenburg County, at the Spring Term 1841L '

*322In 1S34, Henry Crump, being entitled, in right of his wife, to a distributive share of her father’s estate, con* •traded with one Medlin for the land described in the bill, to be paid for by an assignment of the distributive share, and Medlin, by his direction, executed a deed in fee simple to the wife, under which he and his wife lived upon the land several years. The deed was not registered ; and Crump, by much importunity, prevailed upon her to hand back the deed to Medlin, who was to destroy it, and execute another to Crump ; which was accordingly done. Crump’s object was to sell the land, and this was known to his wife, who yielded to his importunity, because, in her own language, “she could not live with him unless she did it.” Crump, soon afterwards, sold Iho land to the defendant for #225, which was paid. Crump made a deed to the defendant, which was duly registered. It does not appear, that $225 was less than the value of the land. The defendant expressly denies notice of the deed to Mrs. Crump and there is no proof to fix him with it. Crump and his wife are dead. The plaintiffs are the heirs ofMrs. Crump. The prayer is for a conveyance from the defendant.

Alexander and J. II. Bryan, fer the plaintiffs.

No counsel for the defendant.

Pearson, J.

The plaintiffs are not entitled to the reliefasked for, because the defendant isa bona fide purchaser for valuable consideration, without notice. When both parties are equally entitled to consideration, Equity does not aid either, but leaves the matter to depend upon the legal title.

The mother of the plaintiffs knew that the object of her husband, in procuring the legal title, was to enable him to sell the land, and they apply to this Court, with but little grace, to lend its aid to the consummation *323of a fraud upon the purchaser. It is true, married women cannot part with their land, unless consent be given in the form prescribed by law. And a purchaser, who has not obtained the legal title, cannot come into equity' for assistance, upon the ground, that he has been induced to pay his money by a fraudulent combination between the husband and his wife. But when the purchaser gets the legal title, and the wife or her heirs are obliged to come into equity, it is a different question, and he will not be required to give it up, unless he had notice of the wife’s rights.’

It was urged that, as the distributive share belonged to the wife, she was the meritorious cause of the consideration paid for the land, and ought not to be prejudiced by the destruction of the deed, as it was done, not only against her consent, as implied by law (she having no capacity to consent, except in a prescribed form,) but against her express wish, until she yielded to importunity. The argument would have much force against a volunteer, but cannot avail against the defendant. The distributive share belonged to the husband by his act of as-signment; so the wife paid nothing, and we are asked, in favor oí her heirs, to make a purchaser give up a valid legal title. There is no principle upon which it can be done: possibly', if the plaintiffs were acting upon the defensive, this Court would not interfere against them. But they have not the legal title ; have paid nothing, and are asking aid against one, who has paid the full value without notice. Tolar v. Tolar, 1 Dev. Eq. 457. Tate v. Tate 1 Dev. & Bat. Eq. 22, and Tyson v. Harrington, were cases against volunteers.

It was further urged, that as the deed was executed, and the ceremony of registration alone was wanting to confer a legal title, which it was not in the wife’s power to have done ; she had something more than a mere equity, an incomplete legal title, and therefore stands upon higher ground, than the ordinary case of one who seeks to set *324•lip an equitable title. Be that as it may, no one has superior claims to the consideration of a Court of equity, than a purchaser without notice; a,nd there is no case in which the Court has interfered to deprive such a purchaser of a legal advantage. This principle is carried out in all the cases. If the power of appointment be defectively executed, and the appointee is a younger child or wife, aid will be given as against the heir at law, but not against a purchaser. In 1 Ch. Cas. 170, a sale was made of copy-hold land, but there was no surrender. After-wards the vendor devised the land to his wife and daughter, and a surrender was duly made to the use of the will, upon the death of the vendor. The vendee, who had an incomplete legal title, filed his bill against the wife and daughter, praying for a conveyance. It appearing that the husband had agreed before the marriage to settle the land upon the wife, she was considered as a purchaser, and the Court refused to deprive her of the legal advantage, which she had under the devise and surrender. But relief was given against the daughter who was a volunteer.

Per Curiam.

Bill dismissed with costs.