The Frances
12 U.S. 359 (1814)

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U.S. Supreme Court

The Frances, 12 U.S. 8 Cranch 359 359 (1814)

The Frances

12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 359

Syllabus

An intention, clearly proved, of a consignor of goods to vest the right of property in the consignee is not sufficient to effect such a change of property until the goods are received by the consignee or some evidence is given of his agreement to take them on his own account; until that time, the goods are at the risk of the shippers, and if they are enemies, the goods, if captured, are good prize. No difference, though the consignee were the agent of a third person who had directed him to order the goods, unless it appears that he actually did order them.

William French, the appellant, a citizen of the United States, claimed fourteen boxes of merchandise shipped on board the Frances by James Auchencloss, of Paisley, in Scotland, to A. & J. Auchencloss of New York, on their account and risk, with orders to remit the proceeds to the shipper for payment. The claimant

Page 12 U. S. 360

alleged that the goods had been previously ordered by him through A. & J. Auchencloss, to be imported on his account and risk.

Further proof was ordered by the court below, to consist of the original order for the merchandise and all the letters and correspondence relating to it and of all the proofs of property in the claimant.

Under this order, the claimant produced a letter dated Baltimore, 20 February, 1812, signed by himself and addressed to A. & J. Auchencloss, requesting them to order from their friends in Scotland good not exceeding in value �1,000 sterling, to be shipped so soon as the orders in council should be revoked.

On 20 September, 1812, A. & J. Auchencloss wrote a letter to the claimant advising him of the capture of the Frances with the goods, said to be shipped on his account to their address and desiring him to take the necessary steps to have his property cleared.

To these letters were added affidavits of the claimant tending to prove the property in him, together with an affidavit of Darius Hodson, that he forwarded the above last mentioned letter to the claimant at Providence, by his request, and that when he took it from the file, it was a whole sheet directed to the claimant from New York by J. Auchencloss, Jr., but that in order to save postage, he, the deponent, tore off the outside leaf, not thinking, at the time, of its being of any importance.

Upon this proof, the claim was rejected in the court below, and the property condemned to the captors.

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