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MVB, Report on the petition of Johannes L. Lawyer et al., 28 March 1815

The attorney-general, to whom was referred the petition of Johannes L. Lawyer and others, reported as follows:

That the allegations on which the petitioners ground their prayer for relief are—

1st. That on the 2d of April, 1725, a patent was granted to Johannes Lawyer and others, for about one thousand six hundred acres of land, situate in the now town of Minden, in the county of Montgomery.

2d. That the title to lot No. 9, of said patent, has become vested in the petitioners, and that their ancestors had for many years been in possession thereof.

3d. That they commenced an ejectment against one Henry Moyer, to recover 200 acres of the said lot in his possession; that the cause was tried before the now chief justice Thompson, at the Montgomery circuit, in 1809, on which trial they allege, that they adduced their title to the said lot No. 9, under the patent of 1725, above stated.

4th. That on the trial aforesaid, the defendant claimed and prayed—

1st. That a patent had been granted in 1753, to Jacob Lansing and others, for 6000 acres, which included within its exterior bounds, the principal part of the lands included in the patent to Lawyers and others, of 1725.

2d. That lot No. 14, of the patent under which the defendant claimed, covered the greatest part of lot No. 9, in the patient under which the petitioners claimed, and particularly the premises then in question.

3d. That several lots in the patent to Jacob Lansing and others, (including said lot No. 14) had become forfeited by attainder and conviction of one Delancey, and that the defendant deduced title to the same under a conveyance from the commissioners of forfeitures for the western district.

4th. That it appearing on the trial that the defendant had been in possession of the premises more than five years, the court decided that the the title of the petitioners was barred by the operation of the "act limiting the period of bringing claims and prosecutions against forfeited estates," passed the 28th March, 1797, and that thereupon the plaintiff was non-suited.

The petitioners conceiving that the evidence of their title, independent of the provisions of the said act, was very clear, deem its operation as to them oppressive and unjust; and on that ground solicit such relief in the premises as the Legislature deem proper.

From the papers submitted to the attorney-general, he is satisfied that the premises in question were included in the patent under which the petitioners claim; and although no regular testimony has been produced to him, he thinks it probable that the allegations of the petitioners as to their title under the said patent; the trial of the cause before the chief justice; the title set up by the defendant, and the alledged grounds of its success are correct. 

But admitting what is stated in these respects to be true, he cannot discover any solid reason why the case under consideration, should be exempted from the provisions of the act by which it was controlled; and he respectfully submits to the consideration of the Legislature, whether the extending such exemption would not, considering the great extent of property, the title to which has been quieted by the salutary provisions of the act in question, be establishing a precedent of dangerous tendency.

How far it would comport with the justice of the state, (on the Legislature being perfectly satisfied of all the facts stated by the petitioners) to pay over to them the amount of the monies paid to the commissioners of forfeiture for the lot in question, with or without interest, is a subject exclusively within the province of the Legislature to decide.

M. V. BUREN, Att'yGen.

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Source: Journal of the Senate of the State of New York
Collection: N/A
Series: Series 3 (17 February 1815-2 December 1821)