June Term, 1805.
A, as attorney in fact for B, conveys lands to C, and afterwards he conveys the same lands to D. Upon the trial of an issue directed by the Court of Equity, "whether the conveyance to B was made to him upon a valuable consideration as a purchaser before the execution of the conveyance to D," A is a competent witness.
JOSEPH LANDRUM being seized in fee of a tract of land lying in Chatham County, constituted and appointed Samuel Landrum his attorney in fact to sell and convey the same; and the said Samuel as attorney for the said Joseph conveyed the land to Matthew Jones, by deed bearing date 20 April, 1775. This deed purported to be absolute and for a valuable consideration. In 1777 Samuel Landrum executed another deed for the same land to Thomas Brooks, who conveyed to Joseph John (46) Alston, and he by his last will and testament devised the said land to complainants, who filed their bill in the Court of Equity for Hillsborough District against the devisees of the said Matthew Jones, and therein charged that the conveyance from Samuel Landrum to Matthew Jones was executed for no other purpose than to enable Jones to sell and convey the land for the benefit of Landrum; that no valuable consideration was paid nor agreed to be paid, and that Jones held the legal estate in the land in trust for Landrum and his assignees. That Thomas Brooks was a purchaser from Landrum for a valuable consideration, and those claiming under him were entitled in equity to have the legal estate decreed to them, etc.
To this bill the defendants answered and alleged that it was expressly agreed between their testator, Matthew Jones, and Samuel Landrum, at the time of the conveyance aforesaid, that Jones might either sell the land or hold it himself, he paying to Landrum the purchase money named in the deed; that Jones had elected to take the land, and had paid part of the purchase money before the conveyance was made by Landrum to Brooks. It was further insisted that various artifices were resorted to to induce Landrum to convey the land to Alston, and that this conveyance was procured by false representations and without any valuable consideration, either paid or secured to be paid to Landrum, etc.
The cause was set for hearing, and the court having ordered an issue to be tried, "Whether the conveyance to Matthew Jones was made to him upon a valuable consideration, as a purchaser, before the execution of the deed to Thomas Brooks," the defendants offered in evidence sundry depositions and, among others, that of Samuel Landrum, which was admitted by the court, and the jury found that the conveyance to Matthew Jones was made to him upon a valuable consideration as a purchaser, before the execution of the deed to Thomas Brooks. Whereupon the court ordered the bill to be dismissed with costs. Upon motion of the complainant's counsel, the case was (47) sent to this Court upon the whole evidence, and upon the question, "Whether Samuel Landrum was a competent witness upon the trial of the issue aforesaid."
We are of opinion that the deposition of Samuel Landrum was properly admitted in evidence upon the trial of the issue in the court below; and the jury having found that the conveyance to Matthew Jones was made to him as a purchaser for a valuable consideration, before the execution of the deed to Thomas Brooks, the decree of the court below must be confirmed and the bill be dismissed with costs.