Massie v. Watts
10 U.S. 148 (1810)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Massie v. Watts, 10 U.S. 6 Cranch 148 148 (1810)

Massie v. Watts

10 U.S. (6 Cranch) 148

Syllabus

The practice in Kentucky to call a jury to ascertain the facts in chancery causes is incorrect.

A suit in chancery by one who has the prior equity against him who has the eldest patent is in its nature local, and if it be a mere question of title, must be tried in the district where the land lies. But if it be a case of contract or trust or fraud, it is to be tried in the district where the defendant may be found.

If, by any reasonable construction of an entry, it can be supported, the court will support it.

When a given quantity of land is to be laid off on a given base, it shall be included within four lines forming a square as nearly as may be, unless the form be repugnant to the entry.

If the calls of an entry do not fully describe the land, but furnish enough to enable the court to complete the location by the application of certain principles, it will complete it.

If a location have certain material calls sufficient to support it and to describe the land, other calls less material and incompatible with the essential calls of the entry may be discarded. The rectangular figure is to be preserved if possible.

If an agent locate land for himself which he ought to locate for his principal, he is in equity a trustee for his principal.

This was an appeal from the decree of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Kentucky in a suit in equity brought by Watts, a citizen of Virginia, against Massie, a citizen of Kentucky, to compel the latter to convey to the former 1,000 acres of land in the State of Ohio, the defendant having obtained the legal title with notice of the plaintiff's equitable title.

The bill stated that the defendant Massie (the appellant) had contracted with a certain Ferdinand Oneal to locate and survey for him a military warrant for 4,000 acres in his name (which the plaintiff afterwards purchased for a valuable consideration), and to receive for his services in locating and surveying the same, the sum of

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