Society for Propagation of Gospel v. Town of Pawlet
29 U.S. 480

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U.S. Supreme Court

Society for Propagation of Gospel v. Town of Pawlet, 29 U.S. 4 Pet. 480 480 (1830)

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel v. Town of Pawlet

29 U.S. (4 Pet.) 480




Ejectment to recover a lot of land, being the first division lot laid out to the right of the society in the Town of Pawlet. The plaintiffs are described in the writ as

"The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, a corporation duly established in England within the dominions of the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the members of which society, are aliens, and subjects of the said King."

The defendants pleaded the general issue of not guilty. The general issue admits the competency of the plaintiffs to sue in the corporate capacity in which they have sued.

If the defendants meant to insist on the want of a corporate capacity in the plaintiff's to sue, it should have been insisted upon by a special plea in abatement or bar. Pleading to the merits has been held by this Court to be an admission of the capacity of the plaintiffs to sue. The general issue admits not only the competency of the plaintiffs to sue, but to sue in the particular action which they bring.

In the record there is abundant evidence to establish the right of the corporation to hold the land in controversy. It is given to them by the royal charter of 1761 which created the Town of Pawlet. The society is named among the grantees, as "The Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, to whom one share is given." This is a plain recognition by the Crown of the existence of the corporation and of its capacity to take. It would confer the power to take the land even if it had not previously existed.

The statutes of limitation of Vermont interpose no bar to the institution by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, &c., of an action for the recovery of the land in controversy.

The plaintiffs are a foreign corporation, the members of which are averred to be aliens and British subjects, and the natural presumption is that they are residents abroad.

The act of the Legislature of Vermont, which prohibits the recovery of mesne profits in certain cases, applies to the claims to such profits by the plaintiffs in this suit, and the provisions of the treaty of peace of 1783, and those of the treaty with Great Britain in 1794, do not interfere with the provisions o

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