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Seavey v. Drake

Citation. 62 N.H. 393 (Supreme Court of New Hampshire, 1882)
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Brief Fact Summary.

The Plaintiff brought a Bill in Equity for specific performance of a parol agreement of land, claiming he was the only child of Shadrach Seavey, the Defendants’ testate.  The parol agreement was within the Statute of Frauds. 

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

“Equity protects a parol gift of land equally with a parol agreement to sell it, if accompanied by possession, and the donee has made valuable improvements upon the property induced by the promise to give it.”


The Plaintiff claimed his father gave him a portion of his land, which he accepted and took possession of.  The Bill alleged a gift of the land and a promise to deed the land over.  The Plaintiff occupied the land, paid all taxes on it, and expended $3,000 worth of improvements.  The Defendants moved to dismiss because no cause for equitable relief was stated, and because the parol contract sought to be enforced was without consideration and executory. 


Was the parol agreement sufficient to entitle Plaintiff to the land?


Yes.  Case discharged.  The Plaintiff’s improvement of the land induced by the donor’s promise to give it to him constituted consideration for the promise, and the promise was enforceable.






Equity lends its aid, when there has been part performance, to remove the bar of the statute of frauds upon the ground that it is fraud for the vendor to insist upon the absence of a written instrument, or has permitted the contract to be partly executed.
The father likely offered the land to the son if he would occupy it and make improvements to it, and it would have been unfair to punish the Plaintiff in this case because his father failed to execute the deed, as promised. 

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