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OF EXECUTORY DEVISES.
Anexecutory devise is a limitation by will of a future contingent interest in lands, contrary to the rules of limitation of contingent estates in conveyances at law. If the limitation by will does not depart from those rules prescribed for the government of contingent remainders, it is, in that case, a contingent remainder, and not an executory devise. Lord Kenyon observed, in Doe v. Morgan, that the rule laid down by Lord Hale had uniformly prevailed without exception, that " where a contingency was limited to depend on an estate of freehold, which was capable of supporting a remainder, it should never be construed to be an executory devise, but a contingent remainder.”
(1.) Of the history of executory devises.
The reason of the institution of executory devises was to support the will of the testator, for when it was evident that he intended a contingent remainder, and when it could not operate as such by the rules of law, the limitation was then, out of indulgence to wills, held to be good as an executory devise. They are not mere possibilities, but certain and substantial interests and estates, and are put under suct restraints only as have been deemed requi
ūCarwardine v. Carwardine, 1 Eden's Rep. 27
site to prevent the mischiefs of perpetuities, or the existence of estates that were unalionable de
The history of executory devises presents an interesting view of the stable policy of the English common law, which abhorred perpetuities, and the determined spirit of
BURNS the courts of justice to uphold that policy, and keep property free from the fetters of entailments, under whatever modification or form they might assume. Perpetuities, as applied to real estates, were conducive to the power and grandeur of ancient families, and gratifying to the pride of the aristocracy, but they were extremely disrelished by the nation at large, as being inconsistent with the free and unfettered enjoyment of property. “ The reluctant spirit of English liberty," said Lord Northington, 5" would not submit to the statute of entails, and Westminster Hall, siding with liberty, found means to evade it." Common recoveries were introduced to bar estates tail, and then, on the other hand, provisoes and conditions not to alien with a cesser of the estate on any such attempt by the tenant, were introduced to recall perpetuities. The courts of law would not allow any such restraints by condition, upon the power of alienation, to be valid. Such perpetuities, said Lord Bacon, would bring in use the former motoriveniences attached to entails, and he suggested that it was better for the sovereign and the subject, that men should be “ in hazard of having their houses undone by unthrifty posterity, than to be tied to the stake by such perpetuities."
Executory limitations were next resorted to, that men might attain the same object. Mr. Hargrave has gleaned
a Lord Ch. J. Willes, in Goodtitle v. Wood, Willes' Rep. 211.
e See his elaborate argument as counsel in the great case of Thellusson v. Woodford, 4 Vesey's Rep. 249-264. Lord Ch. J. Bridge man, in the case of Bate v. Amherst, (T. Raym. 82.) had, however,
from the oldest authorities a few imperfect samples of an executory devise; but this species of limitation may be considered as having arisen since the statutes of uses, and of wills. It was slowly and cautiously admitted prior to the leading case of Pells v. Brown. Springing uses of the inheritance furnished a precedent for similar limitations in the form of executory devises; and it was decided in Pells v. Brown, that a fee might be limited upon a fee by way of executory devise, and that such a limitation could not be barred by a common recovery. That case was silent as to executory bequests of chattels, and Mr. Justice Doderidge was opposed to the doctrine of the decision, and showed that he was haunted with the apprehension of reviving perpetuities under the shelter of an executory devise. The case, however, established the legality of an executory devise of the fee upon a contingency not exceeding one life, and that it could not be barred by a recovery. The same point was conceded by the court in Snowe v. Cutler ; b and the limits of an executory devise were gradually enlarged and extended to several lives wearing out at the same time. Thus, in Goring v. Bickerstaffe,® a limitation of a term from one to several persons in remainder in succession, was held to be good, and not tending to a perpetuity, if they were all alive together; for, as Ch. B. Hale observed in that case, all the candles were lighted toge
long preceded him in the research, for he insists, in that case, that executory devises were grounded upon the common law, and he refers to 49 Edw. III. 16. a. and 11 Hen. VI. 13. a. as evidence of it. Both of those cases are cited by Lord Coke, and the latter in 7 Co. 9. a. to prove that an infant in ventre sa mere, was, in many cases, “ of consideration in the law.”
a Cro. Jac. 590. 6 1 Lev. 135.
c Pollez. Rep. 31. 1 Cases in Chancery, 4. 2 Freeman, 163. Lord Bridgman's MS. Report of the case, cited by Mr. Hargrave in 4 Ves. Rep. 258.
ther, and the whole period could not amount to more than the life of the last survivor.
The great case of the Duke of Norfolk, on the doctrine of perpetuities, was finally decided in 1685, and the three senior judges at law were associated with Lord Chancellor Nottingham. The question arose upon the trust of a term for years upon a settlement bydeed, and it was whether a limitation over upon the contingency of A. dying without issue, was valid. The subject of executory devises was inyolved in the elaborate and powerful discussion in that case. The judges were exceedingly jealous of perpetuities, and would not allow limitations oyer upon an estate tail to be good; but the chancellor was of a different opinion, and he supported the settlement, and his opinion was Haffirmed in the House of Lords. While he admitted that a perpetuity was against the reason and policy of the law, he insisted, that future interests, springing and executory trusts, and remainders, that were to arise upon contingencies, if not too remote, were not within the reason of the objection, and were necessary to provide for the exigencies of families. The principle of that case was, that terms for years were, equally with inheritances, subject to executory devise, and to trusts of the same nature, and it led to the practice of a strict settlement of that species of property, by executory devise, to the extent of lives in being, and twenty-one years afterwards. The doctrine of executory devises grew and enlarged, pari passu, in its application to terms for years, and to estates of inheritance. In Scatterwood v. Edge, the judges considered lives in being as the ultimatum of contingency in point of time, and they showed that they inherited the spirit of the old law against such limitations. Every executory devise was declared to be a perpetuity as far as it went, and rendered
a 3 Ch. Cas. 1. Poller. Rep. 223. 2 Ch. Rep 229. b 1 Salk. Rep. 229. 12 Mod. Rep. 278.