The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mr. Justice Trimble delivered the opinion of the Court.
THIS cause was argued by Mr. Bond and Mr. Brush, for the appellants, and by Mr. Doddridge and Mr. Scott, for the respondents.
This is an appeal from the decree of the Circuit Court for the District of Ohio, dismissing generally, with costs, the bill of the appellants, who were plaintiffs in that Court.
The suit was a contest for land in the District, set apart on the north-west side of the Ohio, for the satisfaction of the bounty lands due to the officers and soldiers of the Virginia line, or continental establishment, in the revolutionary war.
The plaintiffs set up claim to the land by virtue and under a survey, No. 537, in the name of John Campbell. It appears that John Campbell, before his death, made his last will and testament, whereby he devised his land warrants, entries and surveys, in the military district, to Col. Richard Taylor and others, his executors, in trust for the children of the testator's sister, Sarah Beard; and that Taylor alone qualified as executor, and took upon himself the trust. Taylor never conveyed or assigned the warrants, entries, or surveys, to Mrs. Beard's children, but permitted them, as the bill charges, to take the management of them into their own hands.
Elias Langham made sundry executory contracts with Mrs. Beard's children, after they arrived at full age, which contracts are set out in the bill, whereby, as the complainants allege, Langham became equitably entitled to survey No. 537; and afterwards sold, and made deeds of conveyance for the land to the complainants; who, in consequence of their purchases from Langham, took possession of, and improved the land.
Thomas S. Hinde, having purchased and procured an assignment of a military warrant from Col. Richard Taylor, and belonging to him in his own right, made an entry thereof in Hinde's own name in the principal surveyor's office; and having caused a survey to be made thereupon, covering survey No. 537, in the name of Campbell, Hinde obtained a patent for the land from the government.
Being thus clothed with the legal title, Hinde instituted actions of ejectment in the Circuit Court against the appellants, and obtained judgments of eviction against them.
They filed their bill praying for an injunction against the judgments at law; and also praying that Hinde should be decreed to release and convey to them his legal title, and for general relief.
The bill charges, that Col. Richard Taylor, with full notice that the appellants were, in virtue of Langham's contract with the cestuis que trust, and Langham's sale to them, equitably entitled to, and in possession of, survey No. 537, fraudulently combined with Hinde and others, and improperly and without authority, withdrew the entry on which survey No. 537 had been made, and re-entered and caused it to be surveyed elsewhere; and that Hinde, availing himself of such improper and unauthorized withdrawal, had entered, surveyed and patented the land in his own name, he also having notice of all the circumstances attending the claim of the appellants; and that Taylor and the Beards refuse to perfect the survey by obtaining a patent, and refuse to convey or transfer it to the appellants.
The bill also alleges, that Langham had become equitably and legally entitled to the survey No. 537, as a purchaser thereof for taxes due thereon to the state of Ohio.
Hinde filed his answer, in which he denies the charges of fraud and collusion; insists the land had become vacant by the withdrawing of the entry in the name of Campbell, and by surveying it elsewhere; and that he had legally appropriated it by his entry, survey, and grant; he neither admits nor denies the execution of the contracts alleged between Langham and the Beards, and puts the complainants upon proof; and he further insists that such contracts, if made, conferred upon Langham no equitable title: first, because the Beards had no power to sell, without the concurrence of Taylor, the trustee; and, secondly, because Langham had obtained the contracts by fraud, and had not paid the consideration stipulated.
Neither Taylor, the trustee, nor the cestuis que trust, with whom the complainants allege Langham contracted for the land, are made defendants, they being out of ...