United States v. Morant
123 U.S. 335 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Morant, 123 U.S. 335 (1887)

United States v. Morant

Argued October 25-26, 1887

Decided November 21, 1887

123 U.S. 335

Syllabus

The testimonio granted to Cerilo de Morant, September 22, 1817, was full and particular, and both that and the testimonio to Quina, dated May 1, 1818, made complete titles under the Spanish laws.

In Florida a sheriff's deed given in evidence without production of the judgment or execution, and read without objection, is sufficient evidence of sale by sheriff.

The objection to the claimant's title that no evidence was given of cultivation, as required by the Spanish grant, is not well founded, as the proof is conclusive that the grantees built houses and resided on the granted land shortly after the date of the grants.

Whatever may be the proper construction of the 8th article of the Treaty of 1819 with Spain as to the necessity of a survey prior to the date when the obligation to recognize Spanish grants ceased in order to validate a Spanish grant, the Act of June 22, 1860, 12 Stat. 85, under authority of which this suit was commenced, makes the date of the transfer of possession to the United States, viz., July, 1822, the point from which to test the validity of the grants.

The Act of Jane 22, 1860, 12 Stat. 85, was passed to give relief to a large class of grantees of former Spanish governments whose claims had been rejected by the different boards of commissioners, and by the courts, under the strict construction of the treaties required by prior laws.

This case does not come within the proviso in § 3 of the Act of June 22, 1860, excluding claims from the jurisdiction of the commission.

There is no reason why a part owner of lands in Florida under a Spanish grant should not have the benefit of the proceedings authorized by the Act of June 22, 1860, 12 Stat. 85.

The failure to annex a sworn copy of the government surveys to a petition for confirmation of title filed under the Act of June 22, 1860, 12 Stat. 85, is not a question of jurisdiction, but a matter relating merely to the form of procedure, which should be objected to when the pleadings are in fieri and when the petitioners can apply for leave to amend.

The evidence in this case shows that the grants were genuine and that the land was surveyed, mapped, and segregated from the public domain in the spring of 1818.

In affirming the decree below, this Court merely confirms the validity of the grant, but does not give a decision which entitles the party to possession if the government has sold the lands in whole or in part, or if the surveyor general shall ascertain that they cannot be surveyed and located.

Page 123 U. S. 338

The case is stated in the opinion.

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