Greenleaf v. Queen,
26 U.S. 138 (1828)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Greenleaf v. Queen, 26 U.S. 1 Pet. 138 138 (1828)

Greenleaf v. Queen

26 U.S. (1 Pet.) 138


Where, by the terms of a deed conveying real estate in trust to be sold for the benefit of the creditor of the grantor, the trustee is directed to sell the property conveyed by public auction, the trustee was bound to conform to this mode of sale. This was the test of value which the grantor thought proper to require, and it was not competent to the trustee to establish any other, although by doing so he might in reality promote the interests of those for whom he acted.

When property conveyed in trust to be sold at public auction had been sold by private contract, and the property was afterwards offered for sale in the manner prescribed by the deed of trust for the purpose of making a title to the private purchaser, at which time, more was bid for the same than the amount for which it had been privately contracted to be sold, the purchaser, by private contract, to whom possession was delivered at the price agreed on cannot allege that the sale was void, since whatever may be the liability of the cestui que trust to those interested in the proceeds of the sale for the amount offered at the auction, it is not an objection on the part of the purchaser to release him from his contract.

Where the vendee of real estate had purchased it subject to the dower of the widow -- of which dower he might have been informed if he had used proper diligence -- a court of equity will not interfere to release the vendee, but will leave him to such legal remedy as he may be entitled to in case his title should at any future time be disturbed.

Where a bill had been filed against a trustee of real estate and after his death administration had been granted to A, who, on the petition of creditors, interested in the trust, was also appointed by the court, the substituted trustee, and the court went onto decree that A as trustee should execute certain conveyances, the decree was held to be invalid, the course of proceeding being rather to make the decree against A in the character of administrator, because he claimed, as administrator, under a title derived from the original trustee, and was the person designated by law to represent him, or that a supplemental bill in the nature of a bill of revivor should have been filed against the substituted trustee, in which all the proceedings should have been stated and he required to answer the charges contained in the original and supplemental bill.

A decree of a court of chancery is erroneous which, after ordering certain acts to be done to enable a party to execute certain duties assigned to him, dismisses the bill, as it puts the cause out of court and renders the decree ineffectual, and it is no answer to this objection that it appears by the record in the case that the acts ordered to be done have been performed, since the error is in the decree itself, and not in its execution.

A bill may be dismissed where the plaintiff, when called upon to make proper parties, refuses or is guilty of unreasonable delay in doing so, but this must be done on demurrer, plea, or answer pointing out the person or persons who the defendant insists ought to be made parties.

Page 26 U. S. 139

When a debtor had conveyed to a trustee real estate to be sold for the benefit of creditors, and the trustee dying before the conveyance of the property to a purchaser, another trustee was appointed by the court, upon the application of the creditors to execute the trust, in proceeding relative to the execution of the, trust and the conveyance of the estate, it is necessary that the heirs at law of the first trustee shall be parties to the same, as the legal title to the estate did not pass to the substituted trustee by the appointment, but remained in the legal heirs.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of the County of Washington, the appellant having been complainant in a bill in equity filed 31 December, 1819, in the court below against Washington Boyd, trustee of Charles Minifie.

The objects of the bill were to make void a contract made by the appellant for the purchase of certain lots of ground in the city of Washington, being the estate held in trust for the creditors of Charles Minifie -- that certain collateral securities, delivered by the appellant, with his note for $3,815, being for the purchase money of the lots of the trustee, should be returned, and that the note should be cancelled and surrendered -- that a release should be executed of the judgment at law obtained by the trustee on the note, and for a perpetual injunction and general relief, &c.

Upon filing this bill, an injunction was granted, until further order of the court, and after various proceedings the following decree was made:


"vs. In Chancery, April Term, 1824"

"Washington Boyd and others"

"It is ordered by the court in this cause that the trustee appointed by the order of January 21, 1823, make and execute a good and sufficient deed to James Greenleaf for the property sold to him by the former trustee, Washington Boyd, according to the terms of that sale, to be approved by one of the judges of this court and filed with the clerk to be delivered to the said Greenleaf upon the payment of the purchase money, and that he also obtain and file with the clerk a sufficient deed of release from Zachariah Walker, to be approved of by one of the judges of this court, to the said James Greenleaf releasing all title and claim to any and every part of the lots and property of the said Charles Minifie sold by Washington Boyd as trustee or mentioned in the aforesaid deed of the trustee, Richard Wallack, to James Greenleaf, and that upon the said deed and the said deeds of release being executed, signed, approved, and filed as aforesaid, that then the injunction be dissolved and the trustee authorized to proceed in levying and collecting the amount of the judgment

Page 26 U. S. 140

for the purchase money as mentioned in said bill. And the original bill and bills of revivor having been set down for hearing upon the bills, answers, and exhibits and all the proceedings in the cause -- it is by the court on this 15 December, 1824, decreed and ordered that the said bill be dismissed with costs."

"And it is hereby further ordered and decreed that, before proceeding in collecting said purchase money, a good and sufficient bond shall be executed, in the penalty of $500 by any one or more of the creditors, with security, to be approved of by one of the judges of this court conditioned to indemnify the said Greenleaf, his heirs and assigns, from all claim and demand of Francis Jameson, his heirs and assigns, to any part of the lots or property mentioned in the deed of the said Wallack to said Greenleaf which may have been purchased by the said Jameson at the sale of the said Boyd and filed with the clerk of the said court."

"By order, WILLIAM BRENT, Clerk"

"15th December 1824"

From this decree, the complainant appealed.

The opinion of the Court, delivered by MR. JUSTICE WASHINGTON, fully states all the matter of the case.

Page 26 U. S. 141

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