Woodson v. Barrett & Co.

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Woodson v. Barrett & Co., 12 Va. (2 Hen. & M.) 80 (1808),[1] was a case involving the use of illegal gaming bonds to satisfy a debt.


In 1783, Joseph Woodson gambled with Thomas Miller and lost, owing Thomas £1400 in officer’s certificates. Around the same time, Thomas also lost a card game to John Jouitt, Jr. for about the same amount. A short while afterwards Joseph, Thomas, and John were hanging out and began to discuss the various debts. Thomas realizing that Joseph owed him and he owed John, proposed that Joseph just pay John the £1400 in officer's certificates. The men agreed and Joseph wrote out his bond to John payable May 1, 1784. However, to get his payment sooner, John told Joseph to pay him back in gaming bonds instead. On the day that Joseph was to deliver the gaming bonds to John, John Jouitt, Jr. sent John Barrett to the meeting instead. John Jouitt, Jr. was indebted to John Barrett and assigned Joseph's debt to Barrett's company. When Joseph offered John Barrett his gaming bonds, John Barrett refused to take them as payment and sued Joseph in Henrico County Court.

Joseph was embarrassed by the situation and did not provide his attorney enough information for adequate representation. As a result, John Barrett obtained a judgement against Joseph and placed a lien on his land. The lien was given to William Royster, the Sheriff of Goochland, for execution. However, one of William's deputies improperly executed the lien and John Barrett sued William in the Richmond District Court. All of William's witnesses failed to show to trial, so John Barrett recovered damages from Williams for about 446£. Joseph was advised that he could be held personally liable for William's judgment. Acknowledging that his land could not cover the judgement against him and the sheriff, Joseph filed suit in the High Court of Chancery asking the Court to grant an injunction against William's judgment.

The Court's Decision

Chancellor Wythe was of the opinion that since Joseph was aware of the gaming bonds and used those bonds to pay off his debts, he could not be protected from the unlawful gaming statute. Due to this, Wythe dismissed the case and required Joseph pay all court costs. The Court of Appeals reversed the decree and perpetuated the injunction.

See also


  1. William Hening and 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 (N.Y.): I. Riley, 1809), 2:80.