Auditor v. Johnson's Executrix

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Auditor v. Johnson's Exec'x, 11 Va. (1 Hen. & M.) 536 (1807),[1] discussed whether an agent could recover in the Court of Chancery the interest of a public certificate, if the Auditor’s office lost that certificate.


Johnson owned a military certificate that was accruing interest. Johnson asked Robert Yancey to go to Richmond and obtain a warrant for Johnson to withdraw the interest. Robert carried the certificate to the auditor’s office, but the auditor was very busy. The auditor told Robert that if he left the ticket and came back later, the warrant would be completed by that time. Robert left the certificate as suggested but he returned to the office and found that the certificate was lost. Later the Auditor told an acquaintance, James Poindexter, that he thought the ticket belonged to Captain Singleton and had made it payable to Singleton’s agent instead. Due to the auditor’s negligence, Johnson's executrix sued him in the High Court of Chancery. The complaint requested the court either order the auditor to make a new certificate and grant a warrant for all arrears of interest or that the auditor beheld personally responsible and pay just compensation.

The Court's Decision

On a hearing, Chancellor Wythe dismissed the case, which the Court of Appeals affirmed without prejudice. In the original suit named Johnson v. Pendleton, Johnson’s executrix sued Pendleton, the auditor, only in his individual capacity. After his initial denial, Johnson's executrix filed again against the Commonwealth itself. The case, then, came before Chancellor Wythe for a second time. Wythe decreed against the Auditor and declared the amount of the certificate with interest be paid to Johnson’s Executrix. The Court of Appeals overturned.

See also


  1. William Hening & William Munford, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia: with Select Cases, Relating Chiefly to Points of Practice, Decided by the Superior Court of Chancery for the Richmond District (Flatbush: I. Riley, 1809), 1:536