Hearne v. Roane
Hearne v. Roane, Wythe 90 (1790), was a case involving a dispute over the size of an inheritance.
When plainiff Anne Hearne married William Roane, the marriage contract stated that if Roane were to die before Hearne, Hearne would receive either twenty or one-third of the total of Roane's slaves, whichever was greater. Furthermore, the contract stated that if Roane were to die before Hearne and Hearne had no living children at the time, the slaves that were added to Roane's holdings as a result of his marriage to Hearne would be given to Hearne. These provisions, the contract said, were to be in lieu of Hearne's dower. The contract also stated that Hearne would get "the best riding carriage, and horses belonging to it" on Roane's death. The contract also promised Hearne one-third of Roane's personal estate.
Upon Roane's death, commissioners awarded Hearne 19 slaves, some of which had been hers before she married Roane. Hearne also bought numerous items at a sale of Roane's personal estate for the total cost of slightly more than £368. Hearne filed a bill with the High Court of Chancery claiming dower in addition to the slaves Hearne had owned pre-marriage, as well as compensation for two of the estate's four carriage horses, since the defandants (Roane's executors) had sold two and Hearne claimed she was entitled to all four, and reimbursement for the £368 she paid for items from Roane's personal estate. The defendants argued that the marriage contract nullified any claim Hearne had of dower, that only two horses belonged to the carriage, and that the entirety of Roane's personal estate, including the items Hearne bought, did not cover the debts Roane's estate owed.
The Court's Decision
- George Wythe, Decisions of Cases in Virginia by the High Court of Chancery, (Richmond: Printed by Thomas Nicolson, 1795), 90.