CARLISLE, THURSDAY, AUGUST 11.
Before Mr. Baron HULLOCK.
DOE, ON THE DEMISE OF HACKETT, V. MARTIN.
This was an action of ejectment brought by the heir-at-law of a farmer of the
name of John HACKETT, to recover possession of certain freehold tenements, which
the defendant MARTIN held under an alleged will of the said John HACKETT. It was
stated at the outset of the case, that if that will could be upset, the
plaintiff would be entitled to recover possession of HACKETT's freehold
property. Mr. BROUGHAM appeared on behalf of the plaintiff, and Mr. SCARLETT on
behalf of the defendant. The facts of the case will be best understood by the
evidence of the witnesses whom Mr. SCARLETT called to substantiate the will.
William HOLME, examined by Mr. CLARKSON, who was with Mr. SCARLETT, deposed as
follows: - I reside at Dissington, in this county. I know Mr. Isaac NICHOLSON,
the schoolmaster of Dissington, and also Mr. BAMFIELD, the attorney of
Whitehaven. They called on me between three and four o'clock on the afternoon of
the 17th of January, 1824, and asked me to go and see John HACKETT sign his
will. I went accordingly. I went with Mr. BAMFIELD, Isaac NICHOLSON having gone
before to see that Ann HOLME, who had great influence over the deceased, was not
in the testator's house. I found John HACKETT in the house by himself. NICHOLSON
then sent for one Esther CHRISTIE to be a witness to the will. She came in
consequence. John HACKETT was then in bed. Mr. BAMFIELD went up to him and said,
"I have brought your will, John, shall I read it to you?" HACKETT replied,
"Yes." Mr. BAMFIELD then opened out the will, and began to read it very
distinctly. HACKETT appeared to understand it most perfectly. After the will had
been read, BAMFIELD asked HACKETT if he was satisfied with it. HACKETT said that
he was. BAMFIELD then asked him if he was willing to sign it. He said, "Yes."
BAMFIELD then said to him, "John, can you write?" HACKETT replied that he could
not. BAMFIELD said, "Then you can make your mark, which is equally the same."
The will was then laid on the bed before John HACKETT, and he made his mark on
it. Then BAMFIELD said "Touch the seal." HACKETT then took the pen, touched the
seal, and said by desire of BAMFIELD, "This is my last will and testament." I
was then standing close by the bed. The curtains were not drawn; HACKETT could
therefore see every thing which passed in the room. Esther CHRISTIE was then
about three yards from John HACKETT's bed. Mr. BAMFIELD then wrote down "John
HACKETT his mark;" and then I witnessed the will. Esther CHRISTIE then came by
BAMFIELD's desire, and made her mark to it. That is the will which I witnessed.
I know it from my hand-writing being upon it. NICHOLSON was then in the room
close at my right-hand, at the bed-foot. BAMFIELD called on me a week or two
after this had taken place, to witness a codicil. I then went again to John
HACKETT's house, but I do not recollect upon what day. The second day I went,
nobody was present but Mr. BAMFIELD and myself. Mr. BAMFIELD said, "John, I have
brought you the codicil according to your orders." HACKETT said "Very well."
Esther CHRISTIE was then fetched in to hear the codicil read. That is the
codicil which I witnessed. Mr. BAMFIELD and Esther CHRISTIE witnessed it too. At
this time John HACKETT was in full possession of his faculties as far as I ever
knew him, and I knew him for more than 20 years.
Cross-examined by Mr. BROUGHAM. - I swear that I have not been told by Mr.
BAMFIELD that it was necessary that all the parties should see John HACKETT sign
the will. I have had but little conversation with Mr. BAMFIELD respecting the
subject. I have been an innkeeper for eight years at Dissington. Before that
time I was a husbandman. I had been a collier. At the time of his death John
HACKETT owed me 9L., some of it for clogs, some for shoes, and some,
undoubtedly, for rum. I know BAMFIELD. Neither he nor the defendant MARTIN use
my house. I recollect George HACKETT and Mr. NICHOLSON calling me on
Whitsun-eve. They sent for Esther CHRISTIE to my house; and she then said that
she never heard a will read to the testator. She said she heard him say nothing
to us but "Ay, ay; well, well." I will swear that I did not say upon that
occasion "You have made me a liar in my own house, but if you take me to
Carlisle, you shall not get me to speak a word." I heard the most part of this
will read over to the testator by Mr. BAMFIELD. He might have read the whole of
it for any thing I know; but I cannot swear that he did.
Re-examined. - NICHOLSON, who came to my house with George HACKETT, is the same
man who called on me and Esther CHRISTIE to witness the will. Esther CHRISTIE is
the wife of a poor labouring man. I do not recollect that NICHOLSON's name was
mentioned when the will was read. NICHOLSON was intimate with John HACKETT. John
HACKETT frequented my house, and he and NICHOLSON were together at chance times.