An Analysis of the Legitimacy of the "Deed Rock" Deed

by Scurv Dawg

 

The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first to enact a recording act so that "Every man may know what estate or interest other men may have in houses, land or other hereditaments" and was initially established to protect a grantee where a grantor remained in possession. The Massachusetts recording statue was enacted in 1652 and the law provided that no conveyance would be valid unless it was "By deed in writing under hand and seal" accompanied by livery of seisin, or the acknowledgement and recording of the deed. In 1697 the recording statue was amended and provided that a recorded deed was valid to pass title without any other act or ceremony. However if a deed was recorded without an acknowledgment it was not valid except as to the grantor and the grantorís heirs. In 1836 this last part of the statue was revised to include the grantor, the grantorís heirs, the grantorís devisees, and persons who have actual notice. The purpose of the revised statute is to prevent fraud where the grantee (having actual notice of a prior conveyance) who takes a subsequently executed deed could defeat the title of a prior valid deed simply by being the first to record.

 

Scurv Dawg investigating the situation

 

William G. Hall did not have his name, date or an acknowledgment chiseled in Deed Rock. Even if the rock was loaded and hauled to the Registry for recording it would not be transcribed into the record books for because it wasnít a duly executed and acknowledge instrument. Whether the Almighty was able to take "livery of seisin" would be a theological debate. The term derives from French origins, livery meaning to deliver and seisin to take possession. The livery of seisin ceremony was established under English common law and brought to America. The parties involved in the land transaction would meet at the property and the grantor (owner) would hand to the grantee (buyer) a small parcel of dirt, stone or branch from the property being conveyed. The grantor would make a statement as to his intent to convey the property and vacate the same. This would effectuate the closing of the transaction by grantee accepting the parcel represented his taking delivery and sizing the property and holding under his possession. Traditionally the ceremonial process was called feoffment with livery of seisin, feoffment translated as a gift and was a grant of lands as a fee. The parties involved were known as the feoffor and the feoffee. Itís unclear whether God took possession of the property, but it is clear that Solomon Parsons as Godís representative who paid consideration for the property took possession of it open and notorious to the world that was Worcester for over 40 years. It can also be argued that the conveyance created a ďResulting TrustĒ which arises when one person pays all or a specific portion of the consideration for a conveyance of property taken in the name of another. Also it is not illegal to deal with property under an assumed name as long as there is no intent to commit fraud. Even if you just considered Solomon Parsons a squatter he would be an adverse possessor and have a claim to the ownership of the land as William G. Hall who held record title failed to bring an action to recover the land within 20 years.

 

It can be argued that William G. Hall intended to pass and deliver title to the property either to God or his agent. He accepted payment, and notice of Hallís intent can be seen on the 1886 City of Worcester Assessors Atlas, which clearly labels "Deed Rock" on Plate 26. William G. Hall maintained the record title. Any takings, attachments, betterments or assessments would be made against him as record owner. However, his Deed Rock was not on record with the Registry of Deeds. Anyone reviewing the registry records without notice of his deed to God Almighty would conclude that William G. Hall was the record owner.

 

And it came to pass that God created clouds around the title to his land in Worcester.  The Almighty was not going to physically appear and take title. Solomon Parsons, his heirs or assigns, could not convey title to the property without court confirmation. William G. Hall, his heirs or assigns, would have difficulty conveying the property, as notice of conveyance of Godís acreage was well known, and shown on the Assessor Maps in 1886. The property could have remained clouded indefinitely, except that Abel Swan Brown (a/k/a A. Swan Brown), a large land owner adjacent to Godís "Ten Acres" appeared to be encroaching on the holy land base upon the 1886 Atlas. Since the ďHermitageĒ was in the process of becoming his "Hermitage Country Club" he would need to resolve any title issues to the land if he intended to legally acquire it. A. Swan Brown took title to the property from the heirs of Solomon Parsons by deed dated November 24, 1894 and recorded with the Worcester Registry of Deeds at Book 1461, Page 166. However, this deed alone did not clear the title to the property. The heirs of William G. Hall (the "record owner") conveyed to Luther C. Brown and Irving S. Brown (heirs of A. Swan Brown, who died September 6, 1899) took title to the property by deed dated November 18, 1904 recorded with said Deeds at Book 1795, Page 265. A. Swan Brownís estate, Luther C. Brown and Irving S. Brown subsequently included Godís Ten Acres in a deed to Henry Batjer recorded December 7, 1904 with said Deeds at Book 1795, Page 442, 444. Batjer then conveyed it to the Hermitage County Club at Book 1844, Page 469.

 

What happened to Godís interest in the parcel he was conveyed? Around the time of the deed to the Hermitage County Club the Worcester Atlas no longer labels Deed Rock on their plats. The 1922 Worcester Atlas Plate 13 only shows the Hermitage County Club property as a 274.15 acre parcel which incorporates the Deed Rock parcel. God as grantee in the Deed from William G. Hall never took delivery, never recorded his deed and never made an attempt to clarify his chain of title either through subsequent conveyances or by court order. God may have been able to exert some authority over his land if he had stepped forward as beneficiary of the Resulting Trust prior to the conveyance by the heirs of Solomon Parsons but, alas, he did not. Since Massachusetts law only requires a 50 year search of title provided that there is a record deed good on its face value fifty years or more before the current date. Once a good start deed is established within the last 50 plus years a recorded document in the chain of title would have to indicate a potential problem to merit a look at the record title prior to that start deed. The deeds referenced above make no reference to the Deed from William G. Hall to God.

 

REFERENCES:

Ancient Charters 86; 1 Massachusetts Colonial Records

Massachusetts Practice Real Estate Law, Eno and Hovey

Massachusetts General Laws

Worcester County Registry of Deeds

 

 

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Copyright © 2007 by Scurv Dawg

 

 

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