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LOCAL LAW CASE.

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LOCAL LAW CASE. (MEYRICK V. MATHIAS, A PETITION IN MEFBICK V. LAWS.) The hearing of this important suit came on on Monday before the Lord Chancellor, sitting with the Law Justices James and Mellish. Mr. Southgate, Q.C.; Mr. Jackson, Q.C.; and Mr. Rowcliffe appeared for the plaintiff Mr. Fry, Q.C.; Mr. G. S. Law, and Mr. Spencer Butler for the defendant, and Mr. Rawlinson for the Trustees. Mr. Southgate, Q.C., said the question for their Lordships to decide was whether the "shifting clause" contained in the will of Thomas Meyrick (deceased) came into operation so as to entitle the plaintiff to come into possession of large landed estates in Pembrokeshire now held by the defen- dant, Thomas Meyrick. The plaintiffs filed their original bill on on the 21th May, 1853, but the discovery of certain deeds had rendered it impera- tive to file a supplemental bill. After stating the proceedings which had from time to time taken place in the Court of Chancery and reading the various orders made, Mr. Southgate went on to state that the testator Thomas Meyrick, by his will, dated lIth May, 1837, gave and divised his mansion house, called the Bush, and all his other hereditaments in the the County of Pembroke to the use of Edward Laws, Charles Palmer Dimond, upon trust After reading the will the learned counsel called attention to the following "shifting clause"—"Provided always, and the deed hereby declares that if the said Thomas Charlton or his issue male, should either in my lifetime or after my decease, bt,coine seized or entailed in possession to the estates settled on the marriage of the said G. John Chiverton Charlton, situate in the county of Salop, that then the trust of my said rear estates in favour of the said Thomas Charlton and his issue male shall absolutely cease, and my estates shall then go to the person beneficially entitled in remainder under the trust hereinbefore contained in the same manner as if the said Thomas Charl- ton were then dead without issue male, subject nevertheless to any act which may Iw. done in exercise of the powers herein contained." It was further provided by the will that the defendant, Thomas Meyrick, should within r.velvc calendar months take the surname of Meyrick. and no other •urname, and there was also ia&viiod a forfeiture clause in the event of MMi-coiupli.mce with this Wuviso. The deleudaiM, Tholllas .\icvrick, eaine duly into possession ol the IVinbrokeshut; estates, but previously executed an indentuse. bearing iiate 16th February, 1866, by means oi which (as the plaintiff alleged) he defeated the event contem- plated by the 'shifting clause" already quoted, This being so, the plaintiff submmitted that under the circumstances the trusts contained in the will of Thomas Meyrick devised in favour of the defen- dant and his issue ahsolutely, ceased as if the defendant (Thomas Mevriek) were dead without issue; and tint the plaintiff (William Meyrick) thereupon became entitled by virtue of the "shift ing clause" to the estates thereby devised, as tenant for life to the plaintiff (William Stephenson Meyrick) who is the first son of William Meyrick, as tenant entail. The plaintiff alleged that but for the execution of the indenture of the 16th Feb- ruary, 1861, the defendant, Thomas Meyrick on the death of John Chiverton Charlton would have be("otite entitled, as tenant for life in possession within the meaning of the "shifting clause," to the estates in the county of Salop settled on St. John Chiverton Charlton's marriage, and that thereupon the "shifting clause" would have taken effect. The plaintiff thereupon submitted that it would not be competent to the defendant, Thomas Mey rick to defeat the operations of the shifting clause by disposing of the life estate in the Shrop- shire estates, to which he would have been entitled did he not by the indenture of 16th February, so dispose of it as to defeat the operation of the "shifting clause." The plaintiff thereupon prayed first for a prosecution of previous suits; then, that it may be declared that upon the death of St. John Chiverton Charlton, on the 23rd February, 1873, the trustees of the Pembrokeshire estates of the said testator, Thomas Meyrick, contained in his will in favour of the defendant, Thomas Mey- rick, and his issue male absolutely ceased; and that therefore the Pembrokeshire estates went to the plaintiff, William Meyrick, the person next beneficially entitled in the remainder under the trust of the said will as tenant for life in the same manner as if the defendant, Thomas Meyrick, had been then deceased without issue male and that the defendant, Thomas Meyrick, may be ordered to deliver up possession of the mansion house called Bush, and of the said Pembrokeshire estates, and of the title deeds, leases and agreements for tenansies relating thereto: and of the books, picture", furniture and other articles which were bequeathed by the said will, so that they might be held in the Bush by the person or persons heing entiled to possession thereof under the will. To the plaintiff, William Meyrick, for his own use pursuant to the trust of the said will; also to account to the plaintiff, William Meyrick, for the rents and profits of the said premises paid by the defendant, Thomas Meyrick, since 23rd February, 1873. That the Court shall be of opinion that under the circumstances the Shropshire estates are charged with any sums of money, which, upon the said shifting clause," loaning into operation, the plaintiffs ought to pay. That the plaintiff may be at liberty to pay off the charges or to throw them on the Pembrokeshire estates in exoneration of the Shropshire estates; and that, therefore, the plain- tiff, William Meyrick, may be let into possession of the said Mansion House and Estates, subject to the charges thereon, as tenant for life. The defen- dant, Thomas Meyrick (in conjunction with the other defendant) filed a short answer, in which he admitted the general accuracy of the documents as cited by the plaintiffs, but submitted that, accord- ing to the proper construction of the indenture of the 16th of February, 1866, he was not now, and never had been, seised or entitled in possession to the estates settled on the marriage of St. John Chiverton Charlton, and situate in the county of Salop. He set forth what indentures and trans- actions had been drawn up in connection with these estates, and denied having done anything to de'eat the operation of the shifting clause" to the prejudice of the plaintiff, William Meyrick, as charged in the bill. Mr. Jackson, Q.C., followed. tlo The Lord Chancellor, after a brief consultation with the Lords Justices, declined calling on the learned counsel for the defence, and proceeded to deliver judgment. The whole question involved, said his lorpship, on the operation of the "shifting clause contained in the will of the testator. The "shifting clause" was perfectly clear and quite free from anything like the doubt and conflict wllichso often arose in cases of construction owing to doubtfully expressed documents. The first question which arose WHS whether the testator in the said 4. sllItting clause," intended to provide lor the event of the bhropshiie estates going under the settle- menr to which he referred. His lordship thought nothing could be mure absurd and unreasonable 6 than to suppose that the estates meant that the Pembroke estates should go over in the event of the succession in any future time, by any time whatever, of any descendant of Thomas Charlton to the Shropshire estates. By the mention of Thomas Charlton that is existing male decendants, it was clear that the testator had in view the title or the right of settling which might arise. It wai admitted in this case that this was so; and his lord- ship understood that Mr. Jackson could not in the face of the authorities cited contend that the Shropshire estates would come over, if in 80m, future time Thomas Charlton or any of his issue, male by descent, should after some other person acquire the fee simple of the estates in the county of Shropshire, settled on the marriage of St. John Chiverton Charlton. It is not for the Court to discuss any abstract questions, and on this case none arose. In the present case a large proportion of the original estates bad been substracted in favour of other persons and not in favour of the tenant for life, and such subtraction and settle- ments charged on them destroyed the identity of such estates as devised by the testator, both in point of quality and value. The authorities on this point, were not open to question a doubt. In the case of Gardener v. Jennings, which had been cited, it was held that it was sufficient to prevent the operation of such clause when there has been a decimination of the funds derived. In this case not only was the property diminished in substance but in value His lordship was therefore of opinion that the rule must be dismissed. The Lords Justices concurred. On the question of costs, I Their lordships, after a short argument with Mr. Jackson, Q.C., said they were of opinion that the petition and the supplemental will should be die- missed with costs. Order accordingly.

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