(after stating the facts). It is not denied that Howell Hicks and Frances Hicks had the absolute title to the land in question, if the two deeds mentioned, made to them, were sufficient to convey the fee simple estate therein. That such was their purpose is manifest from their terms, phraseology and scope. They are, however, very unskilfully drawn. While each of them contains the essential words of inheritance, these words do not appear directly in their proper connection, and their constituent parts appear disorderly.
In such case, it is the duty of the Court to give the deed .such interpretation as will effectuate the purpose clearly appearing, if the words and phraseology, in any reasonable view of them, will admit of it. Hence it was said in Ricks v. Pulliam, 94 N. C., 225 ; “ the Court will have regard to the whole instrument, and not simply the orderly parts; it may, and ought, if need be, transpose words, clauses and sentences, and sometimes parts of sentences not in juxtaposition. Such tranposition, however, must be reasonable, render the whole instrument consistent, and give effect to the obvious intent.”
The material parts and words of the first of the deeds before us, thus interpreted, must be read thus: * * * “do by these presents give, grant, bargain, sell, enfeoff and convey unto the said Howell T. Hicks and Frances Hicks, the land described, * * * to them and their heirs forever.” Otherwise but a life estate will pass by the deed, and these important words of inheritance, found in it, and intended to have meaning and effective application, must be treated as having no meaning or effect. This cannot be allowed.
*170And for the like reason, the similar words and parts of the second deed, must be read thus : * * * * “ do by these presents give, grant, bargain, sell, enfeoff and convey unto Howell T. Hicks and Frances Hicks, (the land described) * * * * quit all claim, and relinquish all manner of right and title in the aforesaid lands, to the aforesaid Ho we'll T. Hicks and Frances Hicks * * * * to them and their heirs forever.”
Thus read, the material words and parts found expressed in both deeds, have reasonable meaning and application, as well as the just effect clearly intended.
It follows then, that Howell T. Hicks and his sister Frances were tenants in common of the land in question, until her death in November, 1847.
By her will, she devised her part of it to her brother Thomas, in trust, that he should let the same, and pay the money arising from the rents thereof to her brother Howell, during his life-time. At his death, she directs -Thomas to convey her one half of it to the plaintiffs.
Howell Hicks had no estate in his sister’s one half of the land — he had only the right to have the money arising from the rents of it during his life-time, and his deed to his son, although it purported to convey the absolute estate in the whole of the land, only had the effect to convey his part of it — whatever that might be. He could not pass what he did not have.
Whatever equitable rights they may have had prior to that time, the equitable estate of the plaintiffs did not begin until the death of Howell T. Hicks, and their estate could not be prejudiced by the possession of John T. Hicks, to whom Howell conveyed, and who had the sole possession from and after the 15th of October, 1853, the date of his deed, until the 20th of March, 1856, when he sold the land to the appellant and H. Freeman, who then took possession thereof. This is so, because John T. Hicks was one of the *171 cestuis que trust, for wbom the trustee, Thomas Hicks, held the legal title, and it would be a fraud on his part to hold possession adversely to his trustee, and to the prejudice of his cestuis que trust. He could not be allowed by such contrivance to defeat the legal title of the trustee and the equitable estate of the cestuis que trust, he being one of them, not then in existence, nor could the defendant be allowed to avail himself of the benefit of such possession. To do so would be unjust and inequitable.
The learned counsel of the appellant sought by an earnest and interesting argument, to convince us that at all events the defendant’s title had ripened into a good one, by seven years’ continuous adverse possession of the land, up to known and visible boundaries, with color of title.
Granting that the appellant had such possession, it was adverse to his co-tenants in common, and whatever difference of opinion there may have been on this subject in this State in the distant past, it is now well settled that it does not in such case have such effect. It requires such a possession continued for at least twenty years to defeat the estate of the co-tenant in common. The subject has been so fully discussed in numerous cases, it is only necessary to cite some of the leading ones Cloud v. Webb, 3 Dev., 317; Caldwell v. Neeley, 81 N. C., 114; Ward v. Farmer, 92 N. C., 93; Page v. Branch, decided at this Term. Judgment affirmed.
No error. Affirmed.