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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Mann v. Robson [1839] NSWSupC 7

equity - married women, legal disabilities of

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Willis J., 23 February 1839

Source: Sydney Herald, 25 February 1839[1] 

Mann v. Robson and others. -- This was an application in equity, in which the plaintiff prayed that a certain deed might be set aside.

The plaintiff's bill set forth that he obtained a judgment against the defendant for £54, upon which he took out execution, and the sheriff levied upon certain premises at Maitland which the plaintiff purchased for £20; that upon going to obtain possession the premises were claimed by Baldwin and wife, and a person named Young, the children of Robson's wife by a former husband, and that he could prove that the land was purchased by Robson's wife with the proceeds of goods sent from Sydney by Robson, and that the conveyance was made in the name of her children at Mrs. Robson's request.

Robson made no reply, but the other defendants put in answers.  Mrs. Robson stated that her husband deserted her, and that she got a few goods on credit, and by her industry earned some money, which she laid out in the land in question, and that it was not until after he had been absent about eighteen months, and when he returned in a state of destitution, that she was reconciled to him.  Baldwin, in his answer, stated that he advanced £40 towards the purchase of land, and expended a large sum upon the building that was erected on it; but, upon the deed being produced in Court it was found that it recited that the whole of the purchase money had been paid by Mrs. Robson.

His Honour, without going into the evidence, decided upon facts admitted by both parties, that there was nothing shown which would do away with the wife's coverture, and that consequently her property was answerable for her husband's debts.  As, however, her conduct had nothing criminal in it, but she appeared to have acted through ignorance, he would relieve her of costs, but, after what Baldwin had sworn, and what appeared in the deed, he would not relieve him at all.[2] 



[1]  See also Sydney Gazette, 26 February 1839; Australian, 26 February 1839.  The Gazette provided the further details that the plaintiff's bill claimed that Mrs. Robson had conveyed the property to her children in order to secure it from being made liable to the debts of Robson.

The Sydney Gazette of the same day also reported as follows:

``His Honor intimated that he had received a very urgent letter from one of the parties in the case (Mann v. Robson), complaining of the hardship he would be put to in consequence of the case being orderred to stand over, as his witnesses had come down from Maitland, and could not be detained after Monday.  His Honor said the case had been ordered for Friday, because that day happened to be the first day that offered for Equity business.  Only two cases were on the list for that day, the knowledge of which, together with indisposition induced him to communicate with Mr. Gurner in order that the Court should not sit that day.  He objected to the Judges being addressed in the manner in which he had been, however if the parties were ready he was willing to proceed with the case.  He remarked that he had sat in the Court every day for nearly three weeks, and as he was not the only Equity Judge, he thought he was entitled to take one day of rest."

See also Australian, 26 February 1839.

[2] The Sydney Gazette, 26 February 1839, reported this as follows: ``but in consequence of Baldwin's misrepresentation that defendant would not be relieved."

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University