Mason v. Muncaster - 22 U.S. 445 (1822)
U.S. Supreme Court
Mason v. Muncaster, 22 U.S. 9 Wheat. 445 445 (1822)
Mason v. Muncaster
22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 445
A bill in equity brought to rescind a purchase made under the decree of this Court in Terrett v. Taylor, 9 Cranch 43, upon the ground that the title to the property was defective and could not be made good by the vestry and other persons who were parties to the former suit. Bill dismissed.
The vestry of the Episcopal "Church of Alexandria," now known by the name of Christ's Church, is the regular vestry, in succession, of the Parish of Fairfax, and, in connection with the minister, has the care and management of all the temporalities of the parish within the scope of their authority. A sale by them of the church lands, with the assent of the minister, under the former decree of this Court, conveys a good title to the purchaser.
Although the church wardens of a parish are not capable of holding lands, and a deed to them and their successors in office forever cannot operate by way of grant, yet where it contains a covenant of general warranty, binding the grantors and their heirs forever, it may operate by way of estoppel to confirm to the church and its privies the perpetual and beneficial estate in the land.
The parishioners have individually no right or title to the glebe lands; they are the property of the parish in its aggregate or corporate capacity, to be disposed of, for parochial purposes, by the vestry, who are the legal agents and representatives of the parish.
This was a bill brought by the appellant Mason to rescind a purchase made by him, jointly with W. Jones, of a part of the glebe land which was sold under the decree of this Court in the case of Terrett v. Taylor, reported in 13 U. S. 9 Cranch 43. After a confirmation by the court below, of the report of the sale made by the commissioners for this purpose, and after various intermediate negotiations, the appellant gave his promissory notes to John Muncaster, one of the respondents, and George Deneale, since deceased, who were at the time Church Wardens of the Episcopal Church of Alexandria, in payment of part of the purchase money, and judgment having been obtained against the appellant, upon these notes, in the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, the appellant also sought by his bill a perpetual injunction of this judgment. The grounds of the prayer of the bill were, that the title of the property was substantially defective, and could not be made good by the Vestry, and other persons, who were parties to the bill in the former suit; that the same bill contained a material misrepresentation of the facts respecting the title, of which the appellant was, at the time of the purchase, wholly ignorant, and of which he had but recently acquired full knowledge.
Upon the final hearing in the court below, the bill was dismissed, and the cause was brought by appeal to this Court.