United States v. Delespine's Heirs - 37 U.S. 654 (1838)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Delespine's Heirs, 37 U.S. 12 Pet. 654 654 (1838)
United States v. Delespine's Heirs
37 U.S. (12 Pet.) 654
A translation, by the Secretary of the Board of Land Commissioners of Florida, whose duty it was to translate Spanish documents given in evidence before the board of commissioners, of a certified copy of a Spanish grant of land in Florida, which had been produced to the board, was properly admitted as evidence of the grant, satisfactory proof having been given to the court that the original grant could not be found in the records of East Florida and that this was the best evidence, from the nature of the case, which could be given of the existence of the original paper, lost or destroyed.
The heirs of Joseph Delespine and others, purchasers from Joseph Delespine, filed a petition to the Supreme Court of East Florida, praying confirmation of a grant to Joseph Delespine, made by Don Jose Coppinger, on 9 April, 1817, he being then the Spanish Governor of East Florida. The grant was for forty-three thousand acres, under which surveys were made by George J. F. Clarke, then surveyor of the province, according to the terms of the grant.
The petitioners exhibited, in support of their claim, the original translation, certified by Francis I. Facio, of the certified copy by Thomas de Arguilar, the government secretary of the province, which was brought into court by the keeper of the public archives of East Florida. Evidence was given that the original grant by Governor Coppinger had not been found among the archives, or any where. It was also in evidence that a copy of the memorial of Joseph Delespine and of the concession thereupon for the forth-three thousand acres of land, purporting to have been certified by Thomas de Arguilar as secretary of the government, was exhibited to the Board of Land Claims of East Florida, which was before the board proved to have been in the handwriting of the government secretary and signed by him. This document had been mislaid or lost.
The Superior Court of East Florida gave a decree in favor of the petitioners, and the United States prosecuted this appeal.