Day v. Murdoch

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First page of the opinion Day v. Murdoch, in Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, by William Munford. New York: I. Riley, 1812.

Day v. Murdoch, 15 Va. (1 Munf.) 460 (1810),[1] was a case where the Court determined whether a British debtor's paper money payment was sufficient to satisfy its American creditor.


Charles Yates, the executor of Daniel Payne, sued Murdoch and Walter Colquhoun in the High Court of Chancery. Murdoch was the only surviving partner of William Cuningham & Co., a British merchant, and Walter Colquhoun was the company's American agent. Charles's lawsuit alleged that Cuningham & Co. owed two currency debts to Daniel Payne's estate. The first debt totaled 373£ 11s. 7d. based on an account made on September 1, 1774. The second debt for 491£ arose when Payne sold the company several houses and lots in the town of Dumfries sometime in 1771. The primary point of dispute was a 423£ paper money payment an agent of Cuningham & Co. made to Daniel Payne on April 4th, 1777. The question before the court was whether the payment's nominal amount was equal to the principal and interest of the currency debt.

Charles argued that during his lifetime, Daniel Payne, refused to receive paper money. However, Daniel was forced to accept the payment after Cuningham & Co.'s agent threatened to report him to the Committee of Safety. The most convincing evidence came from Daniel's receipt where he stated:
"Received, April 4th 1777, of Mr. James Robinson, 423£ 19s. current money of Virginia, being the amount of the principal and interest due to me in currency by Messrs. William Cuningham & Co. of Glasgow, at their Dumfries store, and exclusive of the sterling sum owing for the lots that I sold them; nevertheless, I demanded the currency debt when the rate of exchange was at 15%; if, on arbitration hereafter to be had, it should be determined that I am entitled to an allowance on that account, the said company are hereby subjected to such allowance."
Based on this evidence, Charles Yates requested the court order a money judgment and grant Daniel relief. After Charles's death, the case was continued by his executor, Day.

The Court's Decision

On March 15, 1800, Chancellor Wythe ordered the Commissioners make a formal report of the debts. On May 18, 1801, Wythe decreed in favor of Daniel Payne for the balance reported by the Commissioner with interest beginning from April 4th, 1785. The Court of Appeals reversed.

See also


  1. William Munford, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia (New York: I. Riley, 1812.), 1:460.