Gaines v. Relf,
40 U.S. 9 (1841)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Gaines v. Relf, 40 U.S. 15 Pet. 9 9 (1841)

Gaines v. Relf

40 U.S. (15 Pet.) 9



A bill of complaint was originally filed in the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and was afterwards transferred to the circuit court for the same district. Subpoenas were issued, on 1 August 1836, with a copy of the bill, to each and all the defendants, about fifty in number. Service of this process was made by the marshal on twentyseven of the defendants, and amongst them, on Richard Relf. W. W. Whitney, one of the plaintiffs, having died, the proceeding was continued in the name of Mira Clarke Whitney,

Page 40 U. S. 10

his widow. The bill claimed the estate left by Daniel Clarke at the time of his death, alleging that Mira Clarke Whitney was his only child and heiratlaw and his devisee.

The bill charged Beverly Chew and Richard Relf with having fraudulently concealed and suppressed Daniel Clarke's true and last will, in which the complainant, his daughter and heiratlaw, was his only devisee and was his general legatee, with having set up another will in which they were named executors, and with having taken and appropriated all the estate, real and personal, of Daniel Clarke. The other defendants were charged with confederating with the executors and with having obtained, and still holding, large portions of the estate through the executors or under them. The bill contained an inventory of the estate of Daniel Clarke, so far as could be made out. For these frauds and breaches of trust, the bill claimed restitution, &c.

On 20 February 1837 (about two months after subpoenas were returned served), the two executors, with twentyfive of their codefendants, appeared by their respective solicitors and filed a petition wherein, styling themselves respondents, eleven of them say French is their "mother tongue" (not that they do not understand English as well), and pray, as a precedent condition to their being held to plead, answer, or demur to the bill, that a copy in their "maternal language," be served on each and every of them severally over and above the English copies already served. Then, "all the aforesaid respondents (including, of course, the two executors), here appearing separately by their respective solicitors, crave oyer" of all the instruments and papers of every sort mentioned in the bill, but

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