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Case with Counsel's Opinion: Honeybourne


Case, with Counsel's Opinion in the matter of Arkell and Fletcher. In 1771 Cotterell Corbet et al conveyed to Richard Fletcher senior and his trustees freehold premises in Honeybourne, comprising a farm house with land known as Rawlins and five other allotments. In addition he assigned to Fletcher the residue of a term of 1000 years of a leasehold messuage and land all which lands, leasehold and freehold, comprised one farm in the tenure of William Caldecott. In 1809 Richard Fletcher by his will devised the farm in the occupation of Caldecott and all other lands and premises to trustees William Fyfield, his nephew William Fletcher of Stoke and Robert Fletcher in trust to the use of his son Richard Fletcher junior for life, then to the sons of the said Richard junior, in default to any daughters of Richard junior in common with remainder to right heirs of testator. Residue and personal estate to daughter Muriel who, with her mother Muriel, was executor. Richard Fletcher senior died, leaving a widow Muriel, daughters Muriel, Susanna and Ann (now Mrs. John Jackson) and son Richard junior who married Phoebe (now Mrs. Arkell). In 1824 by his will, Richard Fletcher junior devised all his real property in Honeybourne, Welford and other freehold lands elsewhere to his executors;(his cousin Richard Fletcher of Charringworth, William Fletcher of Stoke and his friend William Cormell) IN TRUST to the use of his wife Phoebe for her life and then (he being childless) to the eldest son of his sister Muriel, now the wife of Robert Fletcher of Aston Magna and her heirs male with remainder to testator's right heirs. His personal estate to be left to his wife Phoebe. Richard Fletcher junior died possessed of freehold estate at Honeybourne, besides the freehold part of the farm formerly in the occupation of Caldecott, a freehold estate at Saintbury devised by his father, a freehold estate at Welford and the leasehold part of the farm at Honeybourne occupied by Caldecott as well as two other leasehold estates purchased by him prior to his death. He left a widow (now Mrs. Arkell), sister Muriel and sister Ann (now Mrs. Jackson, at present without issue). Sister Susanna was already dead. Since the death of Richard junior, Muriel Fletcher had died leaving a husband, Robert Fletcher (one of the trustees of Richard senior) and a son Richard, a minor who is the reversioner of the freehold estate subject to the life interest of Phoebe Arkell. The estate at Honeybourne devised under the will of 1809 consists of 40 acres of freehold and 56 acres leasehold, all of which have been held together as one farm occupied by the Caldecotts since at least 1780 and has since the enclosure constituted one single unit at one rent without regard to the forms of tenure. Neither the present nor previous tenants can identify the separate freehold and leasehold lands which are only shown on the Inclosure map and which since that date have suffered several redistributions and sub-divisions so as to bear little relation to the present state. Robert Fletcher and Ann Jackson are the heirs at law of Richard Fletcher senior and both of them have received, since the death of Richard Fletcher junior, the rents of both free- and leasehold property under the impression that they alone were entitled to it under the entail of the will of 1809. Mrs. Arkell was informed that she was only entitled to rents for life of that part of the property bought by her husband, accepting the word of Robert Fletcher the trustee on this. Now, however, she had been advised by her lawyer that she is entitled absolutely to all her husband's leasehold estates and to a life interest in the freehold estates, together with back rents since his death. The question is whether both freehold and leasehold estates passed by devise under the will of Richard Fletcher senior. See also ER3/715.

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