Baldwin v. Bank of Newbury,
68 U.S. 234 (1863)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Baldwin v. Bank of Newbury, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 234 234 (1863)

Baldwin v. Bank of Newbury

68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 234


The case of Baldwin v. Hale (ante, p. <|68 U.S. 223|>223) affirmed.

Where negotiable paper is drawn to a person by name, with addition of "Cashier" to his name, but with no designation of the particular bank of which he was cashier, parol evidence is allowable to show that he was the cashier of a bank which is plaintiff in the suit, and that in taking the paper he was acting as cashier and agent of that corporation.

The Bank of Newbury, a corporation, at the time of the suit and now, established in Vermont, brought an action of assumpsit in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Massachusetts District against Baldwin upon a promissory note made by him in Massachusetts, where he resided. The following is a copy of the note. It was unendorsed:

"$3,500 BOSTON, Dec. 9, 1853"

"Five months after date I promise to pay to the order of O. C. Hale, Esq., Cashier, Thirty-five hundred dollars, payable at either bank in Boston, value received."


Page 68 U. S. 235

After making the note, and pursuant to laws of Massachusetts existing prior to making it, Baldwin obtained a certificate of discharge from his debts, embracing by its terms all contracts to be performed within the State of Massachusetts after the passage of said laws. The Bank of Newbury took no part in these proceedings in insolvency in Massachusetts by which Baldwin obtained his discharge. This discharge he pleaded in bar of the action on this note.

He also pleaded the general issue, and under that plea objected that the note declared on was not competent evidence to support the declaration, and did not sustain the cause of action therein set forth. On this point the case, as agreed on by the parties, was as follows, viz.:

"It is agreed that O. C. Hale was in fact the Cashier of the Bank of Newbury at the time of the making of said note, and in case the court would admit such evidence after objection by the defendant, and not otherwise, and not waiving his objection to the same as incompetent, the defendant admits that said Hale mentioned in said note, in taking said note was acting as the cashier of and agent for the plaintiff corporation. If upon the foregoing facts the plaintiff has made out a legal cause of action in his favor, and the defendant's discharge &c., is ineffectual as a bar of said action, the defendant is to be defaulted; otherwise the plaintiff is to become nonsuit."

Two points thus arose and were argued:

1. Whether the contract, being by a citizen of Massachusetts, was discharged by the proceedings in Massachusetts, even though to be performed in that state -- Hale being a citizen, and the Bank of Newbury being a corporation of Vermont, a different state.

2. Whether, if this discharge was not a bar, parol evidence was admissible to show that "O. C. Hale, Esq.," described in the note as "Cashier," simply, was cashier of the Bank of Newbury, the plaintiff in the suit, and that in taking the note, he acted as the cashier and agent of the corporation.

The court below ruled that the discharge pleaded was no bar, and also that the plaintiff had made out a cause of

Page 68 U. S. 236

action, and gave judgment accordingly. On error here the same two questions arose.

Page 68 U. S. 239

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