Sunday, February 10, 2013

Gibbons v Thornhill, Part 1

In January I wrote about searching Tennessee Supreme Court cases through the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and how there was a case Gibbons v Thornhill from Jefferson County in 1839. I wrote to the TSLA for a copy of the case in those hopes that perhaps it listed Thomas Jones in case file. The case file confirmed that Thomas Jones, and several of his sons, did play a role in the case. I'm very glad I ordered a copy.

The suit was filed as a summons against Joseph Thornhill on 16 May 1837 by James Gibbons. Thomas Jones acted as the surety and contributed to a $250 bond in filing the case against Thornhill. It is worth recalling that Thomas Jones had also acted as surety for Joseph Thornhill seven years earlier in 1830, and Thomas' son Robert (my 4th-great-grandfather) had married Joseph's sister Elizabeth Thornhill in 1824.

The Summons - 16 May 1837
State of Tennessee

To the Sheriff of Jefferson County, Summons Joseph Thornhill to be and appear before the Judge of our circuit court for said county (Jefferson) on the 3rd Monday in September next to answer James Gibbons of a plea of trespass on the case to his damage one hundred dollars. Herein fail not and have you then there this writ witness Theo J. Bradford clerk at office in Dandridge the 3rd Monday on May 1837.
Theo J. Bradford Clerk

Know all men by these presents that we James Gibbons and Thomas Jones are held and firmly bound to Joseph Thornhill in this penal sum of two hundred and fifty dollars to which payment will and truely to be made we bind our selves our [seal] to be void on condition the said James Gibbons doth prosecute a suit this day commenced against the said Joseph Thornhill, or pay and satisfy all costs on failure, then the above bond to be void.
Given under our hands and seals this 16th day of May 1837
James Gibbons [his signature]
by his other J. Peck
Thos. Jones his mark seal [x]

September 1837
Jefferson County Sept. Term - James Gibbons by attorney complains of Joseph Thornhill summoned of a plea of trespass on the case for that whereas the said defendant, on the __ day of __ 1836, in said county was in debted to the said plaintiff in the sum of one hundred dollars for goods, wares and merchandise and for money but to the said plaintiff and being so indebted as to wit in Jefferson County  aforesaid on the __ day of __ 1836 then and there promised whenever he should be thereunto requested that he said sum of one hundred dollars would well and truely pay satisfy end.

And whereas the said defendant for and in consideration that the said defendant was indebted to the said plaintiff in the sum of one other one hundred dollars [he owed a total of two hundred dollars] for goods, wares and merchandise and for money but and advanced as well for work and labor done and performed the said defendant on the  __ day of __ 1836 at to wit in said county in consideration thereof undertook and faithfully promised that when therein to afterwards requisted he the said defendant said sum of money would pay and satisfy - yet the said defendant, his promises and undertaking not regarding but intending craftily and subtilly said plaintiff on this to cheat and defraud - altho requested Do to do to wit on the __ day of __ 1836 said sum of money or either of them hath not paid but the same to pay hath failed and refused and still doth fail and refuse to the damage of plaintiff one hundred dollars wherefore he sues.

Peck attorney

January 1838
State of Tennessee}
Jefferson County} January Term 1838
Gibbons vs Thornhill}

And the defendant by attorney comes and defends the wrong and injury where [seal] where [seal] and for plea says he did not undertake and assume upon himself in manner and form as the plaintiff in his declaration hath alledged and of this he puts himself upon the county.

Hynds attorney

And plaintiff also Peck [attorney]

And for further plea in his behalf said defendant says said plaintiff his actions aforesaid should not have and maintain because he says he did not assume and undertake upon himself in manner and form as the plaintiff in his declaration has alledged, at any time within three years next before the issuance of the original writ in this cause and this he is ready to verify, wherefore he prays judgement [seal] Hynds attorney.

And the defendant hereby gives notice that in the trial of this cause he will claim a set off against plaintiff's demand as follows:
- For goods, wares and merchandise sold and delivered to said plaintiff $150.
- For money but to plaintiff $100.
- For money paid laid out and expended for plaintiff $100.
- For money had received by plaintiff for the use of defendant $100.
- For work and labor of defendant $150
Hynds attorney

And for replication of the 2nd plea in this behalf pleaded, plaintiff says that defendant did assume and undertake in the manner and form as the plaintiff against him hath declared within three years next before issuance of the writ in this cause and this the plaintiff prays may be inquired of the county.
Peck [attorney for Gibbons]

And defendant soth the like

May 1838
Friday the 11th May 1838
James Gibbons vs Joseph Thornhill}
This cause is continued by consent until the next term of this court.

December 1838
Tuesday the 18 Dec. 1838
James Gibbons v Joseph Thornhill}
This day came Thomas Jones prosecution bail in this case and moved the court for a rule, on the plaintiff to give him counter security to indemnify and same himself the said Thomas Jones against all damages or injury of his being security for the prosecution of this suit and there upon produced to the court a notice to the plaintiff James Gibbons informing him of his intention to move the court for said rule on this day, and thereupon came into court George Newman who being duly sworn saith that he delivered to the plaintiff in this suit James Gibbons a true copy of said notice more than ten days before this day.

Saturday Dec. 22 1838
James Gibbons v Joseph Thornhill}
In this case it is ordered by this court that the plaintiff give counter security for the prosecution of this suit on or before the second day of next term, or the same will stand dismissed and Thomas Jones the security for the prosecution of this suit is released from all further liability for this case.
So Thornhill and Gibbons had been trading together or at least working together for a period of time. The business relationship soured and Gibbons filed suit. Thornhill counter-sued. As Thomas Jones was the security in the case, he later asked to be indemnified by Gibbons. We'll see in part two what happened next, but it is clear Thomas Jones played a key role in the outcome. 

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