Anderson v. Anderson
Jane Anderson’s mother left her a small fortune in slaves. To protect her estate after marriage, Jane wanted to draft a prenuptial agreement. George Anderson, in hopes of saving his future wife the cost of attorney’s fees, recommended his brother write the marriage contract, which he did. After Jane and George married, it was discovered that George had an enormous amount of debt. George's creditors quickly took Jane's entire estate, stating the prenuptial agreement was poorly drafted and insufficient in protecting Jane’s estate. Jane sued George and his creditors in the High Court of Chancery for the execution of the marriage contract to regain her estate.
The Court's Decision
On June 5th, 1794, Chancellor Wythe dismissed the case. Disagreeing with the decision, Jane Anderson sought to appeal, which required her to give a bond within two months. However, Mrs. Anderson failed to make bond. On August 26, 1794, Mrs. Anderson sought Chancellor Wythe outside of court and, asked him to allow her to give bond, since she accidentally missed the deadline. The Chancellor allowed the request and Mrs. Anderson gave bond. During the following September term, the Court of Chancery set aside Mrs. Anderson's appeal until she could pay security to the court by the 26th of that month. Mrs. Anderson failed to pay security, but was permitted in March 1797 to give bond within two months on the condition that the Court of Appeals gave the Chancellor power to grant the appeal. The Court of Appeals ruled that the Chancellor ceased to have control of the case at the beginning of the September term and that the Court of Chancery did not have the authority to request security or how much was sufficient for Ms. Anderson's case. Not the less, the Court determined that the appeal was properly granted in August 1794, and that the security was paid according to law. The Court of Appeals then turned to the merits of Ms. Anderson's case and affirmed the ruling.
- Daniel Call, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals in Virginia, 2nd ed., ed. Lucian Minor (Richmond: A. Morris, 1854), 163.