Thomas Jefferson Papers

George Hay to Thomas Jefferson, 1 June 1810

From George Hay

Richmond. June 1. 1810—


I have availed myself of the first moment of leisure that occurred, to look into the question, mentioned in my last, concerning the locality of the action of trespass. The result of my inquiry is a belief that Livingston’s suit cannot be Sustained. an action of trespass may be brought in the Court of King’s Bench, for a battery and false imprisonment committed in Minorca, or for taking away the plaintiffs goods and chattels in the province of Canada: but trespass for an entry on lands is local and can only be brought in the Country where the lands lie. This doctrine is explicitly laid down in 4. Term Rep: 503.—and does not appear to be controverted by any Subsequent decision—. On what ground Livingston “has been advised by Some of the ablest lawyers in Philadelphia & New York” that the action may be Supported here, I cannot conjecture: and I suspect that the gentleman here, who ordered the writ, is equally at a loss.—You will not however, I trust, suffer this opinion to have the Slightest influence on the preparations which you may now be making, to place this Subject fully before your Counsel on its merits—

I am, with great respect Yr mo: ob. Serv.

Geo: Hay

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 4 June 1810 and so recorded in SJL.

The doctrine concerning the locality of the action of trespass was explicitly laid down in Doulson v. Matthews (1792) (Charles Durnford and Edward Hyde East, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench [London, 1785–1800; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 2087], 4:503–4). The gentleman here, who ordered the writ was John Wickham.

Index Entries

  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; communications between TJ and his counsel concerning search
  • Doulson v. Matthews search
  • Hay, George; consults with TJ on batture case search
  • Hay, George; letters from search
  • New York (state); lawyers from search
  • Philadelphia; lawyers search
  • Wickham, John; and batture controversy search