Meade Hobson, - Appellant; Samuel Meade, - Respondent

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
Judgment Date09 February 1767
Date09 February 1767
CourtHouse of Lords

English Reports Citation: 2 E.R. 787

House of Lords

Meade Hobson
-Appellant
Samuel Meade
-Respondent

case 13.-meade hobson,-Appellant samuel meade,-Respondent [9th February 1767]. On a bill brought to set aside a will on the ground of the testator's being a papist, an issue was directed to try, whether he was from the age of 12 years or from any other, and what period of time, constantly bred up in the protestant religion or not? But on an appeal, the decree was beveesed ; and the bill was retained for twelve months, with liberty for the plaintiff to bring an action at law, upon any title which he might have under the popery acts. See ante, Casell[5Bro. P. C. 429]. John Meade, whose religious persuasion was the subject of this appeal, was born in the year 1684, and was eldest son of- Dr. John Meade, a reputed papist, who died in 1706, and of Elizabeth Ma.yna.rd his wife, who was an undoubted protestant, and who survived her husband and educated all her children protestants; she died in 1715. In 1702, John Meade came to England to study the law, where he professed the protestant religion, and continued until 1711, when he went to Ireland, and was called to the bar. In the year 1722, he was a justice of oyer and terminer, and gaol delivery at Corke, for trying several persons charged with enlisting men for the Pretender's service. He was afterwards a Captain in the militia, and in 1745, he was promoted to be Lieutenant Colonel of a regiment of horse militia belonging to Corke. In 1751, he was appointed a. commissioner to try several persons in Corke, who were charged with having committed offences upon the high seas; [447] and upon all these occasions, he took the oaths, and performed all other requisites prescribed by law. In the year 1756, the lands in dispute, and several other lands in the county of Tipperary, in Ireland, and an. estate in England descended to him in. fee-simple, on the part of his mother, who was one of the coheirs of Robert Maynard, a protestant; and were soon after allotted to John Meade, upon a writ of partition executed in the county of Tipperary in 1758, as his part of the Maynard's estate in Ireland; which writ of partition was entirely conducted on behalf of John Meade, (who was then ill,) by the respondent presumptive heir. John Meade, having long had a very particular regard for Captain Hobson, father of the appellant, who was his grand nephew and godson, and named after him, made his will dated the 27th of September 1758, whereby he devised all those lands and estates in the county of Tipperary, which descended to him as one of the coheirs of Eobert Maynard, as also the lands in England, which were undivided between him and the other coheirs, unto Charles Smith J^sq. for the use of his nephew, the appellant, and his heirs for ever; subject to a charge of 50 a year, to be paid to Abigail, 787 V BROWN. HOBSON V. MEADE [1767] the wife of the respondent, in case she should survive her husband. He then gave divers legacies out of other lands, to other nephews and nieces; and particularly he devised his right, title, and interest in the lands of Palletstown, and East Michaels-town, to his nephew, the respondent, and appointed the said Charles Smith, and Captain Samuel Hobson, the appellant's father, his executors; and died on Saturday the 30th of September 1758, aged 74 years. After his death, Capt. Hobson, one of the executors, obtained a probate of his will in the prerogative court in Ireland, without opposition from the respondent, or any of the next of kin. But soon afterwards, the respondent filed a very long bill in the Court of Exchequer in Ireland, against the appellant, the said Samuel Hobson and Charles Smith, and against John Mac Ca-rty, tenant of part of the estate, charging the grossest frauds on the part of Captain Hobson, in obtaining the will; that the testator was at all times a man of strong passions, and easily imposed upon; that he had been insane and a lunatic, for a considerable time before the making of his will; that he never read or knew the contents of it, and that his hand was put to it at a time when he was in a state of absolute insensibility: the bill therefore prayed a discovery of his real estate, and of the will; and that it might be set aside; and that the respondent, as his heir at law, might be decreed to the possession of such parts of his real estate in Ireland, as were out of lease, and to' the rent of such parts as leases were subsisting of. The appellant by his guardian, jointly with the said Samuel Hobson, answered this bill, and Samuel Hobson by his answer set forth all the circumstances of the execution of the will; relied upon the sanity of the testator; and that the will he had made was the result of his deliberate intentions, and free from any fraud [448] or imposition whatsoever ; and the appellant insisted on his right under this will. Near six months after the coming in of this answer, the respondent amended his bill, by charging several other facts and circumstances, asi evidence of fraud in obtaining the will; and further charged, as a matter entirely new, that the testator's father was a, papist; that the testator himself was bred and continued a papist after his age of 21, and after the year 1711, in which it was charged, he was called to the bar in Ireland; that after his age of 21 he attended mass, and received the sacrament according to the usage of the church of Borne; that he never read his recantation, or enrolled any certificate of his conformity; that therefore he ought to be deemed a papist at his death; and that, as a constructive papist, by the Irish popery acts, he was incapable by will to dispose of any real estate; but supposing him to be capable, the bill insisted, as in the original bill, upon the nullity of the will for fraud and insanity. The appellant and his guardian answered the new matters; denied all the new circumstances of fraud and insanity; and as to the incapacity on account of religion, said they were informed the testator's father was a papist, but that the testator's mother was always a protestant, and of a protestant family; that by her and her family, such early impressions were made on the testator and the rest of her children, that they, and particularly the testator, professed the protestant religion long before the age of 21; that they were informed, but otherwise knew not, that the testator's father had endeavoured to educate him in the popish religion in his tender years; but that having from his minority professed the protestant religion, they...

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