U S v. GILLIAT, 164 U.S. 42 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

U S v. GILLIAT, 164 U.S. 42 (1896)

164 U.S. 42

No. 535.

October 26, 1896

This is one of the claims originating in the depredations committed by French cruisers upon the commerce of American citizens prior to the year 1800, commonly called 'French Spoliation Claims.' Pursuant to the provisions of the act of January 20, 1885 (23 Stat. 283), the claim mentioned in this proceeding (among many others of a like nature) was presented to the court of claims, and that court made an award, advising the payment of the claim which was reported to congress, pursuant to the act above mentioned; and congress, by the act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 862), appropriated money (section 4, p. 897) 'to pay the findings of the court of claims on the following claims for indemnity for spoliations by the French prior to July 31, 1801' (among others, on page 900): 'On the ship Hannah, Richard Fryer, master, namely, ... to John A. Brimmer, administrator of John Gilliat, deceased, $35,840.44.' By the last clause in the act (page 908), congress added a proviso as a condition to the payment of the awards mentioned

Page 164 U.S. 42, 43

therein, which reads as follows: 'Provided, that in all cases where the original sufferers were adjudicated bankrupts the awards shall be made on behalf of the next of kin instead of to assignees in bankruptcy, and the awards in the cases of individual claimants shall not be paid until the court of claims shall certify to the secretary of the treasury that the personal representatives on whose behalf the award is made represent the next of kin, and the courts which granted the administrations, respectively, shall have certified that the legal representatives have given adequate security for the legal disbursement of the awards.'

John A. Brimmer, the administrator to whom, by the act of 1891, the appropriation was ordered to be paid upon the condition above recited, was unable to comply with the same; and congress, by the act of August 23, 1894 (28 Stat. 487), enacted 'that the sum of $35,840.44, appropriated to be paid to John A. Brimmer, Jr., administrator of John Gilliat, deceased, in the act entitled 'An act making appropriations to supply deficiencies in the appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1891, and for prior years and for other purposes,' be paid to the person or persons entitled to recover and receive the same, to be ascertained by the court of claims upon sufficient evidence and certified to the secretary of the treasury.' Proceeding under the above enactment, Charles G. Gilliat, the appellee, presented his petition to the court of claims for the payment of one-third of the sum named, on the ground that he was a grandson of one of the three original sufferers by reason of the seizure of the ship Hannah, above mentioned, and had been duly appointed administrator de bonis non of the estate of his grandfather by the chancery court of the city of Richmond and state of Virginia. The attorney general answered the petition of the claimant, denied the allegations therein, and asked judgment that the petition be dismissed.

Upon the hearing, the court of claims decided that the petitioner was the administrator of the estate of Thomas Gilliat, who was one of the three members of the firm of Gilliat & Taylor, the original sufferers, and that the petitioner [164 U.S. 42, 44]

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