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Decided Guidance: Case Examinations—Taylor and Quarles v. Brown

Tuesday, March 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jason E. Foose, PS
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This case is from 1809. It's a challenge to read because the language is old. It's not unrealistic to believe the Justices were born before the American Revolution, so the linguistics may sound a bit ancient if not altogether foreign. I'm going to zero in on some things and connect the dots between a couple of centuries of decided guidance. I'm not here to dazzle anyone with my lack of knowledge in the Laws and Customs of the Commonwealths of Virginia and Kentucky. However, I do feel like I have a good enough handle on my craft to draw historic parallels along the bloodline of our professional guidance. Interestingly enough, this case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to internet lore the Kentucky Supreme Court was created by a 1975 constitutional amendment and is the state supreme court of the U.S. State of Kentucky. Prior to that the Kentucky Court of Appeals was the only appellate court in Kentucky. The Kentucky Court of Appeals is now Kentucky's intermediate appellate court. This case involves four jurisdictions and Virginia is as good a place to start as any. 

Old Dominion offers us the bridge between subjects of a crown and free men. The chains of title in this case were originated under the rule of the English Crown and of course prior to the American Revolution. Kentucky in turn was carved out of Virginia and further respected the rights of these pre-existing grants. Out west we see a similar respect with sovereign grants descending from the Crown of Spanish Royalty. There are a few distinguishing features between Colonial land grants and the US Public Domain. Primarily the Colonial Land Grants were created sequentially and the US Public Domain was subdivided in a simultaneous nature. Let's break this down into simplest terms. In 1796 Thomas Jefferson created the world's biggest subdivision plat and recorded it downtown. So, there you have it and I'll file that under American Ingenuity. Jefferson was born a subject of the Crown in Shadwell, Colony of Virginia, British America. He fixed that and died a free man in Monticello, Virginia, United States. Jefferson, The father of the G.L.O. was also a "son" of the Colonial System of Surveys. He was a farmer, an attorney, the son of an accomplished Land Surveyor, and a Surveyor in his own right. I think it's fair to presume he understood all aspects of property ownership. As the right man in the right place at the right time, Jefferson became the catalyst between the feudal land tenure of European Monarchs and the fee simple title we enjoy today in the United States.

Both parties in this case had a right to land because of their military service to the Crown prior to 1763. McDonald was predecessor to Taylor & Quarles, the plaintiff, and Sumner was the defendant Brown's predecessor.

To read the full piece from the American Surveyor, click here.

Photographs provided by:

Joshua C. Hall

Senior Survey Technician

Virginia Department of Transportation