Pendleton v. Lomax

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Pendleton v. Lomax, Wythe 4 (1790), was a case originally appealed to the High Court of Chancery from the Caroline County Court. The plaintiff was one of the chancellors, however, and the remaining two chancellors split, so the case was transferred to the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.[1]


In May 1753, Edmund Pendleton signed with Lunsford Lomax as co-sureties for debts incurred by Thomas Wyld. In exchange, in June 1753, Wyld gave Pendleton the power of attorney to sell Wyld's estate in trust and to collect on all debts due Wyld in order to repay the debts Wyld owed others. The sale of Wyld's estate and collection of debts owed Wyld were not nearly enough to cover Wyld's debts; Wyld still owed a bit over £531 to creditors. In November 1756, Pendleton gave his own bond to the creditors to settle Wyld's debt. In 1766, Pendleton demanded Lomax pay one-half of the remaining debt that Pendleton had given a bond for. Lomax refused to pay, so Pendleton sued in 1768. Lomax moved to dismiss, claiming that the statute of limitations had expired. While the case was in county court, Lunsford Lomax died, and Thomas Lomax, the estate's administrator, took Lunsford's place as defendant. The county court rejected Lomax's statute of limitations claim, and Lomax appealed to the High Court of Chancery.

Chancellor Pendleton did not hear the case, since he was on the other side of the bench as the plaintiff. One of the chancellors held that Pendleton's cause of action originated in November 1756 when Pendleton gave his bond for Wyld's remaining debts, meaning that the statute of limitations barred Pendleton's cause of action. The other chancellor was leaning towards allowing Pendleton's suit to proceed.[2] Since the High Court of Chancery appeared to be headed towards a split decision, they referred the case to the Supreme Court of Appeals.

The Court's Decision

Wythe's Discussion


  1. George Wythe, Decisions of Cases in Virginia by the High Court of Chancery, (Richmond: Printed by Thomas Nicolson, 1795), 4. The decision from the Supreme Court of Appeals was published as Lomax v. Pendleton, 7 Va. (3 Call) 538 (1790).
  2. In his account of the case, Wythe does not state which chancellor held each point of view, simply referring to "another" and "the third judge".