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.
It is frequently said that a seal raises a presumption of consideration.1 This statement, however, as is shown elsewhere,2 is based upon a misunderstanding of the common-law effect of the seal and upon the failure to appreciate the relation in historical development between the common-law theory of the seal and the common-law theory of consideration. While it is quite likely that the sealed contract at common law was not a gratuitous obligation when it first appears in our law,3 the binding effect of a promise under seal was established at the common law more than two centuries before the king's court had expressed the slightest willingness to enforce simple contracts, even though upon what we would now call valuable consideration;4 more than three centuries before we can say that even the outlines of the doctrine of consideration were in its present form,5 and almost six centuries before the common-law courts had finally adopted the rule that consideration was necessary for all simple contracts, whether oral or in writing.6 The statement that a seal imports a consideration is false and misleading. The only practical objection to discarding it altogether is that it has been assumed by the legislatures of some states as a correct statement of a legal principle; and that it has been carried over, in this form, in statutes by which the legislatures sought to modify the common-law principle of the obligatory effect of the seal.7 A discussion of the effect of the seal at common law and under modern legislation is given elsewhere.8
7Lindlay v. Raydure, 239 Fed. 928.
8 See Sec. 465 et seq.
9 Goodman v. Griffith, 238 Mo. 706, 142 S. W. 259. (A recital of "one dollar and other good and valuable considerations to be paid.")
1See Sec. 1166 et seq.
2 See Sec. 1166 et seq.
3 See Sec. 509.
4 See Sec. 24 et seq. 5 See Sec. 509.
6 See Sec. 537 et seq.
No presumption that the grantee has incurred an obligation to the grantor, arises from the delivery of a deed poll which recites a consideration and acknowledges the payment thereof.9 On the other hand, such recital of receipt of the consideration is not conclusive.10