If the contract is in writing and a party who has signed it wishes to avoid liability thereon on the ground that he did not know its contents, the question, in the absence of misrepresentation, fraud, undue influence, and the like, turns on whether he was guilty of negligence in signing without knowing its contents. If he is not guilty of negligence, he may avoid liability1 on the theory that" there never was any contract."2 In a leading case a sealed release which purported to convey an estate in land was treated as of no effect whatever, where it appeared that the releasor could not read and at the execution of such release he was told by a third person that it was a release of certain arrearages of rent to which he replied, "If it be no otherwise I am content," and thereupon he executed and delivered such deed.3 So, one who signs a contract at a place indicated is not bound by a provision on a following page, of which he did not know and to which his attention was not called.4 If A signs a release of a claim for personal injuries, believing, whether by the fraud of the adversary party or not, that it is a receipt for wages, such release is invalid.5

Where free from negligence, one who signs by mistake has been allowed to interpose the defense of mistake of this sort even as against a bona fide holder for value of a negotiable instrument.6

1 Thoroughgood's Case, 2 Coke 5b, 9a.

England. Foster v. McKinnon, L. R. 4. C. P. 704.

Alabama. Paysant v. Ware, 1 Ala. 160; Dickinson v. Lewis, 34 Ala. 638; Davis v. Snider, 70 Ala. 315.

California. Moore v. Copp, 119 Cal. 429, 51 Ac. 630; Maxson v. Llewelyn, 122 Cal. 195, 54 Ac. 732; Meyer v. Haas, 126 Cal. 560, 58 Ac. 1042; Born v. Castle. 175 Cal. 680, 167 Ac. 138.

Indiana. Germania Life Ins. Co. v. Lunkenheimer, 127 Ind. 536, 26 N. E. 1082.

Iowa. Bigelow v. Wilson, 99 la. 456, 68 N. W. 798; Fitchner v. Association, 103 la. 276, 72 N. W. 530; Williams v. Hamilton, 104 la. 423, 65 Am. St. Rep. 475, 73 N. W. 1029.

Michigan. Gibbs v. Linabury, 22 Mich. 479, 7 Am. Rep. 675; Shurte v. Fletcher, 111 Mich. 84, 69 N. W. 233; Miotke v. Ins. Co., 113 Mich. 166, 71 N. W. 463.

Minnesota. Krueger v. Ry., 68 Minn. 445, 64 Am. St. Rep. 487, 71 N. W. 683.

New York. Phillip v. Gallant, 62 N. Y. 256.

North Carolina. Bean v. Ry., 107 N. Car. 731, 12 S. E. 600.

Ohio. DeCamp v. Hamma, 29 O. S. 467.

Washington. Loewenberg v. Glover, 19 Wash. 544, 53 Ac. 839.

Wisconsin. Lord v. Accident Association, 89 Wis. 19, 46 Am. St. Rep. 815, 26 L. R. A. T41, 61 N. W. 293.

2 Born v. Castle, 175 Cal. 680,167 Ac. 138.

3 Thoroughgood's Case, 2 Coke 5b, 9a.

4 Lilly v. Pearson, 168 Pa. St. 219, 32 Atl. 23.

5 Louisville & N. R. Co. v. Cratchaj, 135 Ky. 381, 122 S. W. 191.

6 DeCamp v. Hamma, 29 O. S. 467; Walker v. Ebert, 29 Wis. 194, 9 Am. Rep. 548.