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Item: BSL - 1821 Philadelphia Sheriff's Writ

1821 - EXQUISITE SHERIFF'S WRIT & RETURN ON PRIME DOWNTOWN
PHILADELPHIA PROPERTY BETWEEN FRONT AND DOCK STREETS


 

Lieutenant Colonel Caleb North, Revolutionary War Commander, as High Sheriff & Bailiff of the City of Philadelphia, responds to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Writ to call twelve free and lawful men to an in sit on an Inquest to Partition Property that extends from Front Street to Dock Street below Walnut Street in Downtown Philadelphia. Attorney for Plaintiffs was William Rawle, a noted jurist (click for note).


Survey & Map on Reverse of Sheriff's Return - See Larger Details below


Ornate Calligraphy of F. Caleb North's Name as High Sheriff with particularly fancy "N"

The Sheriff's Writ as Issued by the Supreme Court

This is a Judicial Order commanding the Sheriff to call an Inquest of Twelve Men to visit the Property in Question and make "a just valuation & appraisement of the premises" and designate which parts of the property and buildings (messuage & appurtenances) are to be given to each party of the Petition to Partition to fairly reflect there respective adjudged interests (relative share of four hundred parts). It states and directs as follows:

CAPTION

Thomas M Willing, Jane Willing and
Henry Nixon
Vs
John H Brown

Breve de Partitione Facienda

Return due 3rd Monday of March 1822

Rawle Attorney for Plaintiffs

Docketing notation: The Execution of this Writ appears
 in a certain Schedule hereunto annexed [signed] Caleb North

SHERIFFS WRIT

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to the Sheriff of Philadelphia county Greeting: Whereas John H. Browne late of the said city was summoned to be in our Supreme court of our Eastern District before our justices of the same court to answer Thomas M. Willing & Henry Nixon of a plea wherefore, whereas they the said Thomas M Willing and Jane his Wife and Thomas M. Willing & Henry Nixon & John Brown H. Brown together and undivided do hold one messuage & Lot of ground on the west side of Delaware Front Street between Walnut Street and Dock Street in the city of Philadelphia in the county aforesaid containing in breadth on Front Street aforesaid thirty feet or thereabouts and extending that breadth westerly to Dock Street aforesaid with the appurtenances partition to made according to the form of the statute in such case made & provided unjustly do deny and permit not the same to be done as it is said in such manner in any Supreme Court it is proceeded that partition shall be made between the parties of the premises aforesaid with the appropriate names. Therefore We Command you that taking with you twelve free and lawful men of your bailiwick by whom the truth of the matter may be better known in your proper person you go in and upon the premises aforesaid with the appurtenances and there by the oath and affirmation of the lawful men aforesaid in the presence of the parties aforesaid by you to be warned if they will be present the said premises with the appurtenances having respect to the true value thereof that is to say the said one messuage & Lot of ground on the west side of Delaware Front Street between Walnut Street and Dock street in the city of Philadelphia in the county aforesaid containing in breadth on Front Street aforesaid thirty feet or thereabouts and extending that breadth westerly to Dock Street aforesaid with the appurtenances into four hundred equal parts you cause to be divided thirty three four hundredth parts to the said Thomas v Jane in right of the said Jane and thirty three four hundredth parts thereof to the said Henry Nixon & Ninety nine other four hundredth parts thereof to the said Thomas M. Willing and Henry Nixon and the remaining two hundred and thirty five four hundredth parts thereof to the said John H Brown respectively with the appurtenances you cause to be assigned so that they as the said parts to them respectively happening may each severally apportion themselves thereon and so that the said Thomas M Willing Jane Willing & Henry Nixon & John H. Brown have no more of the premises before mentioned with the appurtenances than to them appertains to have. But if it should happen that the inquest aforesaid by you to be summoned as aforesaid to make partition as aforesaid shall be of opinion that the premises aforesaid cannot be divided according to the command of this writ without prejudice to or spoiling the whole. Then we command you cause the aforesaid inquest to make a just valuation & appraisement of the premises aforesaid upon their oaths or affirmations aforesaid due notice having been first given to the several parties concerned or interested in the said premises to appear if they shall think proper at the time & place of holding the said inquest & by partition or valuation or appraisement which you so make distinctly and openly under your hand and seal & the hands & seals of those by whom such partition or valuation or appraisement shall be made. Do you have before the Justices of our said Court at our same Court to be held at Philadelphia in & for the said district on the third Monday of March next that such proceedings may be had thereafter as to law & justice appertain & have you then there this writ. As ordered by the Honorable William Tilghman Esq Doctor of Laws Chief Justice of our said Supreme Court in Philadelphia this tenth day of December One Thousand eight hundred and twenty one,
                                                                              [Signed} J. Franks, Prothonotary

The Sheriff's Return as Issued by Caleb North, Sheriff

This is the "Return of Writ" as directed by the Court in which Caleb North, Sheriff, indicates that he called all the interested parties as well as twelve free and lawful men to the site of the property where the Inquest was held and the property allocated out each according to their respective interests. On the reverse is a survey showing the "Common Sewer" leading from the Privy to the main trunk Sewer under Dock Street. It should be noted that Dock street has an interesting history itself. Click here to read more. The Sheriff Return states as follows:

CAPTION

Sheriffs Return
To Breve de Partitione Facienda
Thomas M Willing, Jane Willing and
Henry Nixon
Vs
John H Brown
Supreme Court March 1822

25 April 1822 On motion of Mr Rawle
Judgment that the Partition be and
Remain firm & stable for ever
Prothonotary
E. W. Clay

SHERIFFS RETURN

To the Honoranble [sic] the Justices of the Supreme Court holden at Philadelphia in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

F. Caleb North Esquire High Sheriff of and for the City and County of Philadelphia

Do Certify

That on the day and date here of in obedience to the writ hereto annexed taking with me Joseph Cloud, Jacob Ridgway, Cornelius Stevenson, N[athan] Bunker, Jacob Lex, Samuel Hodgdon, Sansom Perot, Joseph Parker, Alexander Cook, Robert E. Gray, John Hornor and William West twelve free and lawful men of my Bailiwick by whom the truth of the matter might be the better known in my proper person. I did go in and upon the Premises in the said writ mentioned and there by the Oaths and Affirmations of the lawful men aforesaid in the presence of as many of the parties in the said writ named as chose to attend all of whom were by me duly warned to be there the said Premises with the appurtenances having respect to the true value thereof into Four Hundred equal parts made equal by charging the most valuable allotment with the payment of the difference in value in money as herein after mentioned. I have caused to be divided and one hundred and sixty five four hundredth parts thereof to say; A Messuage or Store house and Lot of Ground situate on the North Easterly side of Dock Street between Second and Front Streets in the City of Philadelphia marked in the plan hereon endorsed “Thomas M Willing and Others” being the Westernmost part of the Lot of Ground in the said writ described. Containing in front on Dock Street Thirty seven feet and in width at the East end thereof Thirty feet or thereabouts and extending in length or depth Eastward to a line in the middle of a wall dividing this from the Lot of Ground herein after allotted and assigned unto John H. Brown in severalty which line of division is parallel[sic] with and at the distance of One Hundred and twenty five feet one inch from Front Street Bounded South Westerly by Dock Street and on the East by the rear end of the said Lot herein after allotted and assigned to the said John H Brown in Severalty Together with the liberty of having the Water to fall from the Roofs of the Store and shed on the Easterly line of the said Lot of Ground, on the ground herein after allotted to the said John H Brown and his Heirs and the free use and privilege of the Sewer running through the last above described Lot and under the Store into the Dock in Common with the said John H Brown and his Heirs owners tenants and occupiers of his said allotment herein after described and all other the appurtenances thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining I have assigned and delivered unto Thomas M Willing and Jane his Wife and Henry Nixon in the said writ named which with the sum of One thousand seven hundred and seventy five Dollars awarded to be paid to them by the said John H Brown for equality of Partition as herein after mentioned to be as and for their full shares proportions and purpart of and in all and Singular the tenements in the said writ mentioned with the appurtenances. To be held thirty three one hundred and sixty fifth parts thereof unto the said Thomas M Willing and Jane his Wife in her right and her Heirs, thirty three other one hundred and sixty fifth parts thereof unto the said Henry Nixon and his Heirs and the remaining Ninety nine one hundred and Sixty fifth parts thereof unto the said Thomas M Willing and Henry Nixon and their Heirs respectively in Severalty Subject to a fair proportionable part of the Cost and expense of keeping the said Sewer clean and in Repair and the remaining Two Hundred and thirty five four hundredth parts thereof to say A Messuage or Tenement and Lot or Piece of Ground Situate on the west side of Delaware Front Street between Walnut and Dock Streets in the City of Philadelphia marked in the plan hereon endorsed “John H Brown” being the Easternmost and remaining part of the Lot of Ground in the said writ described containing in breadth on Front Street aforesaid thirty feet or thereabouts and extending that breadth Westerly One Hundred and twenty five feet one inch Bounded on the East by Front Street and on the West by the Lot marked on the said Plan hereon endorsed Thomas M Willing and others Together with the Free use and privilege of the said Sewer running into the Dock in Common with the said Thomas M Willing and Jane his Wife and Henry Nixon and their Heirs respectively the owners tenants and occupiers of their allotment aforesaid and all other the appurtenances thereunto belonging charged for equality of Partition as herein after mentioned I have assigned and delivered unto John H Brown in the said writ named as and for his full share proportion and purpart of and in all and Singular the Tenements in the said writ mentioned with the appurtenances To be held by him the said John H Brown and his Heirs in Severalty Subject nevertheless to and Charged with the payment of the said sum of One Thousand Seven Hundred and seventy five Dollars to the said Thomas M Willing and Jane his Wife and Henry Nixon in the said writ named which sum was awarded by the said Inquest for equality of Partition and Subject also to one half the expense of keeping the said Sewer clean and in repair So that they the several parties in the said writ named as to the said parts to them respectively happening may each severally apportion themselves there out and so that the said Thomas M Willing, Jane Willing and Henry Nixon and John H Brown and their Heirs respectively have no more of the Premises before mentioned with the appurtenances than to them appertains to have In Testimony whereof I the said Sheriff and the Inquest aforesaid have hereunto set our respective hands and seals this First day of March in the year of our Lord One Thousand eight hundred and twenty two.

[Signed] with Paper over Wax Seals
Caleb North, Sheriff - Alexander Cook, Robert E. Gray, John Hornor, William West, Jacob Lex, Samuel Hodgdon, Sansom Perot, Joseph Parker, Joseph Cloud, Jacob Ridgway, Cornelius Stevenson, Nathan Bunker

Following text

 


Signatures of Caleb North, Alexander Cook, Robert E. Gray, John Hornor, William West


Signatures of Jacob Lex, Samuel Hodgdon, Sansom Perot, Joseph Parker
Joseph Cloud, Jacob Ridgway, Cornelius Stevenson, Nathan Bunker


Detail of Survey & Map on Reverse of Sheriff's Return - Willing-Nixon partition


Detail of Survey & Map on Reverse of Sheriff's Return - John H Brown partition

Document Specifications:  The Sheriff Return is on very fine parchment (vellum) with ornate calligraphy at the heading, an unusual curved top, fine double sidelines, and arresting signatures. Each of the twelve members of the Inquest have signed the return and their signatures are proven by wax over paper seals. The parchment has been roughed up so that the wax would adhere to the naturally oily surface of the vellum (cured animal skin). The document measures 23˝ inches wide by 28 inches tall and is in very fine condition with some mildew staining on the reverse where it was originally folded. The document has 3 vertical and 2 horizontal folds.  Attached to the Return is the original Supreme Court Writ. The writ is ingeniously attached by a ribbon that connects through both documents and then is tied and sealed beneath the wax seal of Caleb North's signature. It would be impossible to separate the document without violating this authentication mechanism, however, for the purposes of display, one would likely consider separating the two documents so that they might be better presented. The Original Writ in on paper and measures 13 inches wide by 15 inches tall. It has 3 vertical and 3 horizontal file folds with some slight separation along one fold.
 

Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

End of Item: BSL - 1821 Philadelphia Sheriff's Writ

Tel: 573-382-1776

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