4 U.S. 237 (1802)

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U.S. Supreme Court


4 U.S. 237 (Dall.)

The Grantees under the act of April 1792

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

September Term, 1802

ON the 2d of April 1802, an act of the general assembly was passed, entitled 'An Act to settle the controversies arising from contending claims to land, within that part of the territory of this commonwealth north and west of the rivers Ohio and Alleghany, and Conewango creek,' (5 State Laws, 153.) by which the Judges of the Supreme Court were directed to devise an issue, for trying the following questions, at Sunbury, in Northumberland county:

1st. Are warrants heretofore granted under the act of the 3d of April 1792, valid and effectual in law against this commonwealth, so as to bar this commonwealth from granting the same land to other applicants under the act aforesaid, in cases where the warrantees have not fully and fairly complied with the conditions of settlement, improvement, and residence, required by the said act, at any time before the date of such warrants respectively, or within two years after?

2d. Are the titles that have issued from the land-office, under the act aforesaid, whether by warrant or patent, good and effectual in law against this commonwealth, or any person claiming under the act aforesaid, in cases where such titles have issued on the authority and have been grounded upon the certificates of two justices of the peace, usually called prevention certificates, without any other evidence being given of the nature and circumstances of such prevention, whereby, as is alleged, the conditions of settlement, improvement, and residence, required by the said act, could not be complied with?

The judges, having devised and published the form of a feigned issue, on a wager, to try these questions; having given public

Page 4 U.S. 237, 238

notice, that all parties interested in the issue would be heard at the trial; and having settled and prescribed the other necessary proceedings; three of them (YEATES, SMITH, and BRACKENRIDGE, Justices) assembled at Sunbury, on the 25th of November 1802; when a jury was impanneled, and the case argued, by the Attorney-General (M'Kean) W. Tilghman, and Cooper, for the commonwealth, in the negative of the propositions contained in the questions; but no counsel appeared to argue, in the affirmative. [Footnote 1] On the next day, the presiding Judge delivered the following charge to the jury: [4 U.S. 237, 239]

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