This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Bights of this sort which appeal strongly to the ethical sense of the court were recognized and protected directly by courts of equity at an early period. While the early reports of the courts of equity gave but little direct authority, we find that equity was apparently more ready to construe the words of a covenant in accordance with the intention of the parties and to enforce the intention of the parties thus obtained by construction than were the courts of law.1 In 1627 equity seems to have entertained an action "concerning salary for serving of a cure."2 Equity, in fact, seems to have been quite ready to enforce promises,3 although from the meager statement of many of the cases, it is possible that the desire to obtain specific performance or some other form of equitable relief was the reason for resorting to equity. Spence notes that action for wages and for tailors' bills were entertained in chancery;4 although he explains the jurisdiction of equity as due to the hazards attending trial by jury, the need of discovery, and the desire to avoid wager of law.
1 The Roman law calls this a natural obligation as distinguished from a civil obligation.
2 2 Roll. Abr. (Justification), 92, pl. 1, 2; Hostler's Case, Yelv. 66.
3 Sidenham v. Worlington, 2 Leon. 224; Bosden v. Thinne, Yelv. 40; Riggs v. Bullingham, Cro. Eliz. 715: See Sec. 771, et seq.
4 See Sec. 624.
11 Eq. Gases Abr. 17; Hill v. Carr, 1 Chan. Cas. 294.
2 Daie v. Hampden, Toth. 174.