TITLE estates. A title is defined by Lord Coke to be the means whereby the
owner of lands hath the just possession of his property. Co. Lit. 345; 2 Bl.
Com. 195. Vide 1 Ohio Rep. 349. This is the definition of title to lands
2. There are several stages or degrees requisite to form a complete title to lands and tenements. 1st. The lowest and most imperfect degree of title is the mere possession, or actual occupation of the estate, without any apparent right to hold or continue such possession; this happens when one man disseises another. 2 Bl. Com. 195. 2dly. The next step to a good and perfect title is the right of possession, which may reside in one man, while the actual possession is not in himself, but in another. This right of possession is of two sorts; an apparent right of possession, which may be defeated by proving a better; and an actual right of possession, which will stand the test against all opponents. Idem. 196. 3dly. The mere right of property, the jus proprietatis without either possession or the right of possession. Id. 197.
3. A title is either good, marketable, doubtful, or bad.
4. A good title is that which entitles a man by right to a property or estate, and to the lawful possession of the same.
5. A marketable title is one which a court of equity considers to be so clear that it will enforce its acceptance by a purchaser. The ordinary acceptation of the term marketable title, would convey but a very imperfect notion of its legal and technical import.
6. To common apprehension, unfettered by the technical and conventional distinction of lawyers, all titles being either good or bad, the former would be considered marketable, the latter non-marketable. But this is not the way they are regarded in courts of equity, the distinction taken there being not between a title which is absolutely good or absolutely bad, but between a title, which the court considers to be so clear that it will enforce its acceptance by a purchaser, and one which the court will not go so far as to declare a bad title, but only that it is subject to so much doubt that a purchaser ought not to be compelled to accept it. 1 Jac. & Walk. R. 568. In short, whatever may be the private opinion of the court, as to the goodness of the title yet if there be a reasonable doubt either as to a matter of law or fact involved in it, a purchaser will not be compelled to complete his purchase; and such a title, though it may be perfectly secure and unimpeachable as a holding title is said, in the current language of the day, to be unmarketable. Atkins on Tit.2.
7. The doctrine of marketable titles is purely equitable and of modern origin. Id. 26. At law every title not bad is marketable. 6 Taunt. R. 263; 5 Taunt. R. 625; S. C. 1 Marsh., R. 258. See Dalzell v. Crawford, 2 Penn. Law Journ. 17.
8. A doubtful title is one which the court does not consider to be so clear that it will enforce its acceptance by a purchaser, nor so defective as to declare it a bad title, but only subject to so much doubt that a purchaser ought not to be compelled to accept it. 1 Jac. & Walk. R. 568; 9 Cowen, R. 344; vide Title, Marketable.
9. At common law, doubtful, titles are unknown; there every title must be either good or bad. Atkins on Tit. 17. See Dalzell v. Crawford, 2 Penn. Law Journ. 17.
10. A bad title is one which conveys no property to a purchaser of an estate.
11. Title to real estate is acquired by two methods, namely, by descent and by purchase. (See these words.)
12. Title to personal property may accrue in three different ways. By original acquisition. 2. By transfer, by act of law. 3. By transfer, by, act of the parties.
13.-Sec. 1. Title by original acquisition is acquired, 1st. By occupancy. This mode of acquiring title has become almost extinct in civilized governments, and it is permitted to exist only in those few special cases, in which it may be consistent with the public good. First. Goods taken by capture in war were, by the common law, adjudged to belong to the captor, but now goods taken from enemies in time of war, vest primarily in the sovereign, and they belong to the individual captors only to the extent and under such regulations, as positive laws may prescribe. Finch's Law, 28, 178 Bro. tit. Property, pl. 18, 38; 1 Wilson, 211; 2 Kent, Com. 290, 95. Secondly. Another instance of acquisition by occupancy, which still exists under certain limitations, is that of goods casually lost by the owner, and unreclaimed, or designedly abandoned by him; and in both these cases they belong to the fortunate finder. 1 Bl. Com. 296. See Derilict.
14.-2d. Title by original acquisition is acquired by accession. See Accession.
15.-3d. It is acquired by intellectual labor. It consists of literary property as the construction of maps and charts, the writing of books and papers. The benefits arising from such labor are secured to the owner. 1. By patent rights for inventions. See Patents. 2. By copyrights. See Copyrights.
16.-Sec. 2. The title to personal property is acquired and lost by transfer, by act of law, in various ways. 1. By forfeiture. 2. By succession. 3. By marriage. 4. By judgment. 5. By insolvency. 6. By intestacy.
17.-Sec. 3. Title is also acquired and lost by transfer by the act of the party. 1. By gift. 2. By contract or sale.
18. In general, possession constitutes the criterion of title of personal property, because no other means exist by which a knowledge of the fact to whom it belongs can be attained. A seller of a chattel is not, therefore, required to show the origin of his title, nor, in general, is a purchaser, without notice of the claim of the owner, compellable to make restitution; but, it seems, that a purchaser from a tenant for life of personal chattels, will not be secure against the claims of those entitled in remainder. Cowp. 432; 1 Bro. C. C. 274; 2 T. R. 376; 3 Atk. 44; 3 V. & B. 16.
19. To the rule that possession is the criterion of title of property may be mentioned the case of ships, the title of which can be ascertained by the register. 15 Ves. 60; 17 Ves. 251; 8 Price, R. 256, 277.
20. To convey a title the seller must himself have a title to the property which is the subject of the transfer. But to this general rule there are exceptions. 1. The lawful coin of the United States will pass the property along with the possession. 2. A negotiable instrument endorsed in blank is transferable by any person holding it, so as by its delivery to give a good title "to any person honestly acquiring it." 3 B. & C. 47; 3 Burr. 1516; 5 T. R. 683; 7 Bing. 284; 7 Taunt. 265, 278; 13 East, 509; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.