Leland v. Wilkinson,
35 U.S. 294 (1836)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Leland v. Wilkinson, 35 U.S. 294 (1836)

Leland v. Wilkinson

35 U.S. 294


Cynthia Jenks, on a petition to the General Assembly of Rhode Island, representing that she was the executrix of the last will and testament of Jonathan Jenks, late of Winchester in the State of New Hampshire, deceased, and the personal property being insufficient to pay the debts of the estate, obtained authority from the judge of probate to make sale of so much of the real estate of the deceased as should be necessary to pay the debts. Under this authority, she sold and conveyed certain lands in the State of Rhode Island as belonging to the estate and received a part of the consideration money, and the balance was to be paid when the deed executed by the petitioner should be ratified by the general assembly. The residue of the purchase money was represented to be absolutely necessary to pay the debts of the estate, and a ratification of the deed, &c., was prayed. In the lower house, June 1792,

"it was voted and resolved that the said petition be received and that the said deed and the same is hereby ratified and confirmed so far as respects the conveyance of any right or interest in said estate, mentioned in said deed, which belonged to the said Jonathan Jenks at the time of his decease."

And in the upper house this resolve was read the same day and concurred in.

By the Court:

"The purchasers under the deed sanctioned received all the interest in the premises which had been vested in Jonathan Jenks and which on his death vested in his heirs or devisees. The act of the legislature and the deed are unconditional, and neither the heirs of Cynthia Jenks nor any other persons can impeach the deed by evidence of facts prior to the act of confirmation."

The power of the Legislature of Rhode Island in relation to the confirmation of such sales of real estate is greater than the strict judicial power. They may sanction past transactions where vested rights are not disturbed, while the court can only authorize a title to be made in future.

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