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in conformity with the law of the State where such land is situate, have the dignity and effect of records, and to them much of the stability of our land titles is attributable. Such record not only serves as a means of preservation of the muniments and evidences of title, but also has the effect of giving to the transfer that notoriety formerly obtained by livery of seizin, to which it is made equivalent in some of the States by statute. The statutes of registration bear a close similitude in all the States, and provide generally for the recording of every instrument in writing by which any estate or interest in land is created, aliened, mortgaged or assigned, or by which the title to land may be affected either in law or in equity.

It is a general provision of the recording acts, that every conveyance which shall not be recorded as provided by law, shall be void against any subsequent purchaser in good faith, and for a valuable consideration, of the same land, or any portion thereof, whose deed of conveyance shall be first duly recorded; and further, that every instrument recorded in the manner prescribed by statute, shall, from the time of filing same for record, impart notice to all persons of the contents thereof. As previously remarked, however, the constructive notice afforded by the record of a deed, applies only to those who are bound to search for it; as subsequent purchasers, and all others who deal with or on the credit of the title, in the line of which the recorded deed belongs. That such record imparts notice is to be understood also, in the sense that the contents of the deed are correctly spread upon the record, for the recording acts cannot be made by equitable construction to embrace cases not within them, or give constructive notice of things the records do not show.

It would further seem, that instruments to impart notice, must be recorded in the proper books. Thus, where separate books are provided for deeds and mortgages it has, in some instances, been held that a mortgage recorded in a book of deeds will not furnish constructive notice. So, also, the registry of an instrument not required by law to be recorded is notice to no one, and, usually, a deed is not constructive notice merely because it is copied into the registry if it has not been duly executed, acknowledged or proved, so as to entitle it to registration,2 although such an instrument would be effective as to all persons who have actual notice of its contents.24

Registration, in legal intendment, is conclusive notice to the parties to be affected by it. But notice of a prior unrecorded deed, communicated to a purchaser, will prevail over a subsequent recorded deed, and as between the immediate parties no registration is necessary, an unrecorded deed having the effect to convey the legal title as against all persons having actual notice of its existence.25


No perfect abstract of title can be compiled without the assistance of a carefully prepared tract index, that is, an index to the lands. This book is not usually kept by the recorder of deeds, and about the only helps afforded in the public offices are a series of alphabetica Cady vs. Purser, 131 Cal., 552.

Where upon the records a de» Galpin vs. Abbott, 6 Mich., 17;

fective deed is found and is Sigourney vs. Larned, 10 Þick.

seen, this must be regarded as (Mass.), 72.

actual notice, such as every 13 Loughridge vs. Bowland, 52

reasonable and honest Miss., 546; Pringle vs. Dunn,

would feel bound to act upon. 37 Wis., 449; Bishop vs.

Hastings vs. Cutler, 25 N. H., Schneider, 46 Mo., 472.

483. * Bass vs. Estill, 50 Miss., 300; * Musgrove vs. Bonser, 5 Ore., 313.

Musirk vs. Barney, 40 Mo., 458.


ally arranged indexes. When well kept these books will be of much assistance to any one making a search of the records; if otherwise, however, they may prove very misleading. The grantor and grantee indexes of the registry of deeds will show the successive conveyances and incumbrances under the names of the various parties who at different times have held title, where there has been no break in the chain, together with the volume and page of the record on which the instruments may be found. Adverse deeds, unless within the knowledge of the person making the search, can rarely be found by this method. If only an index to grantors is provided it will be almost impossible to detect adverse deeds. Should a brief description of the property be carried out, as is frequently the case, ending with the section, town and range in proper columns, these columns should always be carefully run down for any conveyances that may have escaped the searcher's attention while going over the names.

While it may be the duty of the recorder to keep a proper index of his books of registration, so that one searching the records may easily find what is contained therein, yet a deed of conveyance properly filed and copied on the records is recorded within the meaning of the law, and imparts notice to subsequent purchasers, notwithstanding the failure of the recording officer to index it. The better way, in all cases of moment, is to apply to a regularly established abstract maker for assistance.


Examinations of title in the United States, which are usually prepared by professional examiners, do not, as a rule, disclose, except inferentially, any matter or

thing affecting title save what appears of record, and searches are mainly restricted to the public records of the county. Ordinarily this is sufficient, and a careful search will reveal all that is necessary to a correct estimate of title, and fully protect intending purchasers.

An examination, upon its face, purports to show the course of title from a definite date to another definite date, and the fair and reasonable import of the undertaking is, that the examiner has made a full and true search relative to the title during that period, and has noted on the abstract every transfer, or other matter, affecting the same, actually made and entered of record between those dates.

Sometimes the examiner may present a synopsis of deeds simply for the purpose of showing, like the English abstract, the present title of some specified person.' In such case the chain usually commences at some given point as the root. In a case of this kind unusual care is required, lest a prior conveyance operating by way of estoppel, may not defeat the title shown. It is customary, in an examination of this kind, to commence with a deed showing title in the person proposed or his grantor, and thence continuing down to the date of the certificate. There is not wanting authority to support an examination of this character, and it has been held that a deed recorded before the grantor has any record title may be safely disregarded in examination of title, under the system of registration and notice adopted in the different States of the Union; that such a deed would not be constructive notice to any innocent purchaser; and further, that a purchaser finding an apparently valid title of record is not expected to look behind it. The rule, however, is unsafe and does not prevail generally. If the examiner is directed to commence his search at a given period, or with a specific event in the devolution of title, he will, of course, discharge his whole duty by a true showing of what has transpired since that time or event, but a purchaser will thereby assume a risk.

In some localities it is, or has been customary to dispense with a formal abstract, and in its stead the examiner merely "certifies the title” to be vested in an individual named, basing his certificate upon a personal examination of the records. This is merely an opinion of title, and its worth depends wholly on the learning, skill, and financial responsibility of the person rendering it.


An abstract should be prepared in a neat and orderly manner, and so disposed as to facilitate the labor of counsel in passing an opinion on the title. A formal caption should apprise the reader at the outset of the subject of the examination, while the different searches should be arranged under classified heads, and for purposes of convenient reference the various statements should be numbered consecutively from the beginning. As far as possible the chronological sequence of the conveyances should be preserved. The result of the search should be recapitulated at the conclusion by a certificate covering all the essential features of the examination. The formal parts should be brief and yet explicit.

The object of the caption is to definitely describe the subject of the examination. The caption, therefore, should consist of a full description of the parcel or parcels of land under examination, and the time from which the search is made. Where the examination

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