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Files a defense of a legal guardian's stewardship of land in Virginia
Autograph Document signed: "Clay for deft", 4p, 7¾x12¼. Fayette County Court, [Lexington] Kentucky, 1802 September 11. Titled: "The answer of Thomas Ayers to a bill of complaint against him exhibited in the Honorable the District Court of Franklin by John Scott administrator of Benjamin Sneed deceased." Also signed "Tho Wallace" as Justice of the Peace, certifying to the Fayette County Court that Thomas Ayers came before him to attest under oath to the accuracy of the document. In full: "The defendant, now and at all times hereafter saving and reserving to himself all benefit of exception to the errors insufficiencies and misstatements in the said bill contained, for answer thereto or unto so much thereof as he is advised is material & necessary to be answered, Saith, that it is time that the said Benjamin Sneed Sen. did depart this life in the year 1781 having previously made his last will and testament in writing, by which among other dispositions of his estate, he devised to the in testate of the Complainant the tract of land in the bill mentioned;. That it is also true that the said Benjamin Sneed being an infant this deft was appointed his guardian by the County Court of Caroline & gave bond as the law required; That it is true that the deft. Having possession of the said tract of land, by virtue of his office aforesaid, did in the year 1784 set up the same publicly for one year, to be rented; That it is also true that £30 was bid for the said land, and that some other person did bid £30, which was mentioned; but this deft begs leave to state that both these bids were made by men so far intoxicated as to be incapable of knowing what they were about; That after the said land was knocked off at the price of £30, this deft being persuaded that a bid made under the above circumstances was not legal, the next day went to Richard Sneed, who had made the same, & took a witness with him, for the purpose of knowing whether he meant to stand to the said bid, and whether he recollected what he had done; That the said Richard Sneed declared that he did not recollect what was done by him, confessed that he was intoxicated, and expressed his extreme sorrow for it & his wish to be off of the contract; That the said Richard Sneed was an uncle to the in testate of the Complainant; That this deft being advised that the said renting was illegal did release the said Richard Sneed therefrom; This deft begs leave to state that the said tract of land was poor exhausted, unproductive land, a great part of it abandoned old fields, not worth cultivating. - That in the year 1784 the buildings, which were very old, had greatly decayed, and that from the mere effects of time, several of the outhouses fell down while this deft occupied the said property; That the said place had been occupied as a tavern, and while the seal of the Virginia government continued at Williamsburg was a good stand, but after the removal thereof to Richmond, it ceased to be valuable as a public stand, and the road became a private one, but little frequented; That it is time that after the said Richard Sneed was released, as aforesaid, this deft caused the said tract of land to be set up again to be rented, but he denies that it was done in a fraudulent or negligent manner; That it was advertised for some time before some of the neighbors attended, it was publicly cried & knocked off to this deft as the highest bidder at the sum of £ as by the account hereto annexed settled by this deft with the County Court of Caroline will appear; This deft denies that the said sum was inferior to the real worth of the said land, or that more could have been got for the same by him; That it is also true that the said land was knocked off for the succeeding year to this deft at £10:1, which he avers was done by a fair renting, without any fraud on his part; That it is true that this deft continued afterwards to occupy the said land until the year 1792, without having set up the same yearly ^ had it rented in a public manner; But this deft did this in consequence of the price of the said land for the two years first mentioned having met with the approbation of the County Court of Caroline, who were satisfied that it was fully sufficient; and for the further reason that he would not charge the said Benjamin Sneed Jr. for his board, schooling & clothing more than the sum of £10, although this deft avers they were worth greatly more than that sum. This deft further says that from the state of the buildings & the poverty of the soil, it was not to be expected that the rent of the said land would increase in value in the course of a few years, and in fact it declined, which rendered it therefore unnecessary for this deft to set it up every year; This deft denies that he committed any waste or suffered any dilapidations while he occupied the said land; but on the contrary the dwelling house having been repaired by this deft's wife while she was a widow, he made sundry other repairs & built a log house; That it is true this deft in the year 1792, when he was moving to this state, and consequently could not attend every year to rent out the land, did rent the same for seven years, at the expiration of which the said Benjamin Sneed arrived at full age; But it is not true that any part of the said rent is lost or in danger, though this deft admits he did not take bond & security, having in the hurry of his departure for this County forgot to take it; This deft begs leave to refer, as parts of his answer, to the annual settlements of his guardianship with the County Court of Caroline, which he urges and relies upon as a complete bar to the present suit. But if this honorable Court shall be of opinion that this deft should pay a greater rent for the land than he has done, he humbly hopes that an increase in the allowance made him for boarding, cloathing & schooling the said Benjamin Sneed Jr. & repairing the said buildings will be made, so as to make it more adequate and just; This deft further states that having married the widow of the said Benjamin Sneed Sen, & mother of the Complainant in testate, he is advised he is entitled in her right to dower in the said land & prays that a deduction may be made accordingly; This deft says that he is willing, if this Court shall be of opinion that the aforesaid settlements with the County Court of Caroline are not conclusive, that auditors may be appointed to readjust his guardianship accounts; This deft says that the reason of the said land in the year 1792 having rented for more than he gave was the great & sudden rise of wheat, as he believes. This deft prays hence to be dismissed with his Costs etc, etc." Henry CLAY (1777-1852), moved from Virginia to Kentucky in 1797 and quickly gained a reputation as a skilled lawyer and orator. The year after this brief was filed, Clay was elected to the Kentucky legislature, beginning nearly sixty years of service as one of America's greatest legislators. "The Great Compromiser" was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1806 (at age 29, one year under the minimum required by the Constitution) and represented Kentucky in either the House or Senate for most of the years until his death. Between 1811 and 1825 he served several sessions as Speaker of the House. A "warhawk" who urged war with Britain in 1812, he served two years later as a commissioner negotiating the Treaty of Ghent which ended that conflict. A three-time Presidential candidate (1824, 1832 and 1844) and foremost leader of the Whig Party, he was Secretary of State under President John Quincy Adams (1825-1829). He labored ceaselessly in his later years for reconciliation of North and South. Lightly soiled. Vertical and horizontal folds. Overall, fine condition

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Born: April 12, 1777 in Hanover County, Virginia
Died: June 29, 1852 in Washington, District of Columbia

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