Taliaferro v. Minor

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First page of the opinion Taliaferro v. Minor, in Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, by Daniel Call. 3rd ed., ed. Lucian Minor. Richmond: A. Morris, 1854.

Taliaferro v. Minor, 5 Va. (1 Call) 456 (1799),[1] was a case involving a family landownership dispute.


After his death, John Thorton’s estate fell to his daughters Mary (married to Woodard) and Betty (married to Taliaferro), his grandson Thornton Washington, and his granddaughter Mildred (married to Minor). Due to an act of Assembly in May 1778, the property vested into a trust that could sell and invest the money from the land for the benefit of the parties. In January 1779, all of the land was sold for £41,583 to Taliaferro and Woodford. However, the pair did not pay for the purchase on the day of sale. Instead, the land was sold on credit and by the time the money was received for the purchase it had depreciated to £5,441. This in effect ruined Thornton and Mildred’s share of the estate and since they were minors, they could not challenge the sale. When Mildred came of age, Minor, on behalf of his wife, sued for an account of the trust. He also requested the Court order Taliaferro and Woodford to pay the actual value of the land or have the sale annulled.

The Court's Decision

Chancellor Wythe decreed “that Taliferro and the heirs of Woodford should convey to the complainants their properties of the said lands, to be held in the same manner as if the act of Assembly had not been made and should account for the profits.” The Court of Appeals reversed the decision.

See also


  1. Daniel Call, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 3rd ed., ed. Lucian Minor (Richmond: A. Morris, 1854), 3:88. George Wythe owned the first edition of this set.