Brothers at law

The Drogheda Argus Saturday August 1, 1925.

Ownership of a Corballis farm- walked into the farm without a penny and married the widow.

John Davis against Alexander Davis was a process for debt, the parties being brothers.

Mr Tallen, for the defendant (for Alex), said they had filed a reply that they had no means of any description. The debt of £34 17s 3d sued for was not an ordinary debt as between the plaintiff and defendant. They were two brothers and lived next each other. There had been a lot of bickering going on for a number of years and there was an action brought by John Davis against Alex Davis for injuries to a horse which was alleged to have got frightened as the defendant’s conduct and the Co Court Judge gave a decree. There was an appeal from the decree, but the Courts were upset in the meantime (likely cause of the Rising, the War of Independence and subsequence Civil War – smcw) and it was not proceeded with. Defendant lived with his wife at Corballis. The lands belonged to a Mr Taylor, her first husband, at whose death they became her property, and she was sole owner. Mr Alex Davis, who married the widow, had no property of any kind or description. He had an interest in a place called Boggawn, Co Leitrim, left by his father to himself and his brother Richard jointly, and some years ago he got into trouble, a claim by one of his workmen under the Compensation Act, the settlement of which claim crippled the small holding, and defendant assigned his interest in the farm to Richard Davis about seven years ago. (about 1918 smcw)

Defendant (Alex) stated that he had put in a statement of means, in reply to an order of the court, which statement was true. He had no means of any description, but was depending for support and maintenance on his wife with whom he resided at Donore.

(Alex) Cross-examined by Mr Mullen (Mr McKeever’s office), who was for the plaintiff (John), and who stated that the decree had been affirmed – I am living with my wife on a farm, in which there are about 30 acres.

Are you going to tell the Court you walked into a woman with thirty acres and had absolutely nothing yourself?

(Alex) Yes, sir.

Do you know the contents of the will of your father?

(Alex) Yes.

What were they? It was joint will between myself and my brother. We were to get the property jointly.

When you married the widow, how did you dispose of your share of the farm?

(Alex) It was disposed of four years before that, but it wasn’t assigned before a solicitor till afterwards.

How much money did you get for your share?

(Alex) None whatever. The compensation claim took about £170 from me.

You walked out without a penny piece, leaving half of the farm?

(Alex) Yes sir.

Did you pay a solicitor over £100 to put this farm belonging to the widow in proper legal order.

(Alex) I paid nothing only what the woman handed me.

Did you pay a solicitor in Drogheda £100 at the time you got married?

(Alex) No sir.

Well, if I get a man to prove that he actually saw the receipt will be swearing a lie?

(Alex) He will.

You walked into the woman without a penny piece? (Alex) She asked me ———- (laughter)

We won’t mind the romance; let us come to the £ s d part. Did you bring any cattle?

(Alex) I didn’t bring one heifer.

If I put a man in the box to swear you did?

(Alex) He will be swearing a lie.

Was any document signed between you and the wife, under which you would derive any benefit out of the farm?

(Alex) No document whatever. From the fact of me having no money. I couldn’t expect it.

Do you manage the farm and sell the cattle?

(Alex) Yes, by her orders.

To who are the cheques made payable that you receive for the cattle?

(Alex) Sometimes to me and sometimes to her. She might not be there at all times.

Do you sell the produce – butter, eggs, fowl, etc?

(Alex) Yes, in stormy weather, when I wouldn’t let her out.

You are very careful of her apparently? And you do that the whole year round without anything?

(Alex) She never gave me a shilling.

Do you do a little bit on your own on the eleven months’ system in the way of con-acre?

(Alex) Yes, this year she took a few acres; it is in her name.

You didn’t pay them £25?

(Alex) I often drew money out of the bank.

Did you pay £25 to the bank?

(Alex) Not to my knowledge.

You didn’t pay any debts due by the widow when you went in?

(Alex) No.

Did you buy a trap and harness when you went there?

(Alex) Not till about two years after I went there.

Mr Mullan (for John) said he contended that the defendant invested about £600 in this woman’s farm.

Mr Tullan (for Alex) said the bill of costs was paid to him, and it was incurred by a dispute over the husband’s will, which they had to prove in solemn form. The bill of costs was raised by the widow, with the assistance of a clergyman and himself. It was absolutely untrue to say that (the) defendant came in to pay any bill of costs.

Mr Mullen (for John) – He made the legal aspect of the thing right before he went in. That is my point. He wasn’t going to take any risks.

(Alex) Re-examined-There were 23 acres odd in the farm that I assigned at Dromahaire, Co Leitrim. It was of more value when it was above water (laughter). There was a claim against me by a workman named Gallagher, and my brother (Richard Davis, smcw) took payment of it. As a consideration for that I released any claim I had to the farm, and soon afterwards I came to the Co Meath. My brother (John) was living beside the widow and annoying her. I took the widow and her small farm, or she took me in (laughter).

(Mr Mullen) And that put the tin hat on your brother’s chance of the small farm. Did you pay any of the late Mr Taylor’s debts?

(Alex) Not a penny. I paid you no (?) £100 for costs. The farm was never transferred to me. The rents and rates were in her own name. I paid no £25 to her bank, or had no money coming into the Co Meath. I never received a penny from my wife. The place and all the stock are my wife’s, and if an order is made I have no means to pay it.

(Justice) Mr Goff – How many employees are engaged on the farm?

(Alex) Only one regularly. Sometimes there might be a little boy and a little girl. The man does every kind of work, but nothing in the way of managing.

Supposing she had to pay a manager, wouldn’t she have to pay him something?

(Alex) I suppose, if she was able to pay. It would hardly be done by a stranger.

Don’t you think that your wife should pay this debt?

(Alex) I am afraid it would cause some trouble between myself and her. She could tell me to go tomorrow. I gave my services gratis to her. I never drank a glass of whiskey in my life.

Mr Mullen (John) asked wasn’t the defendant only liable for half the compensation payable to the workman in Leitrim, when he was joint owner. He further asked did a man ask the defendant for the loan of money last year, and did he hand him a £5 note?

Defendant (Alex)- It didn’t occur last year, but some time ago.

So that you are never without some money?

(Alex) I acquainted the wife of it. The wife was there (laughter).

Plaintiff (John), examined, stated that he knew the contents of his father’s will. He received 10s, which he never claimed.

Mr Tallan (for Alex)- I object to this being given in evidence.

(Justice Goff) I am admitting the will if it is produced.

Plaintiff (John) stated he was reared on the County Leitrim farm. It wasn’t a farm that used disappear and re-appear (laughter). It was good upland, but the ? was an additional farm. There were 31 Irish acres in one and 16 Irish acres on the other. They were fully stocked. His brother said he could get at least three thousand pounds for it. Defendant (Alex) brought several cows to the widow’s farm-six or seven heifers, but not at the one time. He also brough a trap and harness. Witness was £1,000 security for Mrs Taylor. He would say that defendant managed the farm and there was no boy or girl there.

(John) Cross-examined by Mr Tallan (for Alex)- I saw the heifers leaving the streets here and saw them on the land afterwards. The land was Mrs Taylor’s before he came there. I cannot say whether it is her’s still or not. I know he was summoned as a jury man to Trim.

Don’t you know there was a summons in reference to the land recently and you gave evidence?

(John) That is so.

And it was sworn that the land was Mrs Taylor’s?

(John) To my recollection it was Alexander and Margaret Davis.

Mr Tallan (for Alex) said the original advance made by the Land Commission in reference to the Leitrim land was £400 as the landlord’s interest.

Witness – that was forty years ago.

(Justice) Mr Goff said he was satisfied that defendant’s services on the farm for a number of years were very valuable, and if he had got no payment it should be a very small thing for his wife to def?sy/ this debt. Accordingly, he would make an order for payment by instalments of £5 a month and £1 5s costs, the first instalment to commence 29th August.

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The Drogheda Argus Saturday November 14 1925.

Brothers at Law

A Donore Apppeal

At the Drogheda Circuit Court, before his Honour Judge Doyle, KC, Alexander Davis, Donore, appealed against an order given against him by District Judge Goff for the sum of £38 12s 9d at the suit of his brother, John Davis also of Donore.

Mr Tallen (for Alex), who appeared for the appellant stated that the decree was given under the Enforcement of Law Act. The order was made by the Justice on foot of a decree granted against Alex Davis by the Navan Circuit Court, and was that defendant should pay a rate of £5 a month. His client had no property, and the only asset he had was his wife (laughter), who owned a farm. District Justice Goff came to the conclusion that he was entailed to regard Alex Davis as having an income of some kind. Originally the two brothers had jointly a farm in Co Leitrim, but defendant gave up his claim on his brother taking over responsibility for a workman’s compensation claim. After that defendant came up to Co Meath and found a widow who had a farm.

Alex Davis, the appellant, examined by Mr Tallan bore out Mr Tallan’s opening statement. He said he had no means when he came to Co Meath, and got married. “I live with my wife.” He added “and have no means or property of my own.” Everything belonged to his wife, who had a farm of 30 acres of bad land. He was unable to pay £5 a month as ordered by the District Justice.

Cross examined by Mr Mullen (for John)

(Alex) My wife had taken out administration before I married her. Half the farm in Co Leitrim had belonged to him under the will of his father. He never brought in a “tail” to the place. He exchanged a horse and a trap for a donkey and trap for his wife. She employs a man for buying and selling. He lent no money except on his wife’s orders. There are two working the farm occasionally along with him, and sometimes no one. He brings the butter to market, but is not recognised by the traders as being in charge of the farm. He takes no con acre but his wife does. His brother wanted to get him out of the place.

His Lordship said he was perfectly in accord with the order of the District Justice. Apparently the defendant had evaded the responsibility in Co Leitrim by some subterfuge which he could not understand. He had contracted responsibilities in Co Meath which had been forced against him in Co Louth, and very properly. He affirmed the order.

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