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TWENTY YEARS. The lapse of twenty years raises a presumption of certain
facts, and after such a time, the party against whom the presumption has
been raised, will be required to prove a negative to establish his rights.
2. After twenty years from the time it became due, a bond will be presumed to have been paid. 2 Cranch, 180; 3 Day, 289; 1 McCord, 145; 2 N. & McC. 160; 1 Bay. 482; 9 Watts, 441; 2 Speers, 357. And the same presumption arises that a judgment has been paid, if no steps have been taken by the plaintiff for twenty years after its rendition. 3 Brev. 476; 5 Conn. 1.
3. But the presumption of such payment is easily rebutted, by showing that interest has been regularly paid. 1 Bailey, 148; that the obliger has admitted it has not been paid 2 Harring, 124; 9 N. H. Rep. 398; or other circumstances calculated to rebut the presumption. The proof of facts which show that the obligor was poor and not likely to be able to pay the debt, is not sufficient. 5 Vern. 236.
4. When a debt is payable in installments and secured by a penal bond, the presumption of payment arising from lapse of time applies to each installment as it falls due. 3 Harring. 421.
5. By the English act of limitation, 21 Jac. 1, c. 16, the period during which a possessory action for land can be sustained is fixed at twenty years, so that an adverse possession of twenty years is a bar to an action of ejectment, and such lapse of time gives a possessory title to the land. This period has been adopted in many of the states of the Union, but there has been some variation in others. See Limitation of actions.
6. But this statute did not affect incorporeal hereditaments, which remained as before. In analogy to the act of limitation the courts presumed a grant after twenty years adverse possession. And new grants are presumed upon proof of an adverse, exclusive, and uninterrupted enjoyment of an incorporeal hereditament at the end of twenty years. And the burden of proving that the possession was adverse, that is, under a claim of title, with the knowledge or acquiescence of the owner of the land; and also that it was uninterrupted, rests on the party claiming such incorporeal hereditaments. 3 Kent, 441; 1 Cheves, R. 2; 4 Mason, 402; 2 Roll. Ab. 269; 2 Greenl. Ev. 444.
7. The time of enjoyment of a former owner who is in privity with the claimant, can, in general, be joined to his own in order to make up the period of twenty years, as in the case of the heir and ancestor, of grantor and grantee. 9 Pick. 251. But the enjoyment of a former owner whose title has escheated to the state by forfeiture, cannot be added to the time of the enjoyment of the grantee of the state. 2 Greenl. Ev. 543.