Moore's Executor v. Aylett's Executor
Slaves from William Aylett’s estate were set to be sold to fulfill a debt. Philip Aylett, acting executor of the estate, asked Bernard Moore to lend him money (about £34) to satisfy the debt and stop the sale. Moore agreed on the condition that he gain a pregnant slave named Mary and her child as security, who he could sell if the debt was timely paid. Philip agreed to the condition and in July 1791, Moore obtained Mary and her increase. However, the value of Mary and her children were much higher than the initial debt paid. In February of the following year, Philip sent Bernard to money he borrowed and requested the slaves be returned. However, Bernard refused to return the slave because he had already sold them for a substantial sum of money. Philip sued Bernard for the return of the slaves or their value in the High Court of Chancery.
The Court's Decision
On September 28, 1799, Chancellor Wythe decreed that unless Bernard return Mary and all her children, he would call upon a jury to decide the total value of the slaves and pay for her profits with interest. A jury assessed the value of the slaves to be £80. On May 12, 1801, Wythe decreed that Bernard pay the Aylett Estate about £45 with interest. The Court of Appeals reversed the decree, requiring Bernard pay only £13 which was the difference between the money lent and the amount of interest incurred when Bernard sold the slaves.
- 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), 1:29.