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.
When the seal once had come into general use and had become the means of authenticating formal instruments it at once acquired an effect and a sanctity which it is hard to overestimate or even appreciate. If a seal was affixed to an instrument it bound the party whose seal it was without reference to the person by whom it was affixed. If his agent or bailiff affixed it, even without authority, the principal was bound, for he should have provided a better custodian. The law went further than this, however. Glanville says1 that if the defendant acknowledges the seal to be his own but denies that the charter was made Avith his assent, "he is bound to warrant the terms of the charter and, in all respects, to observe the compact expressed in the charter as contained in it, without question, and to impute it to his own indiscretion if he incur any loss by negligently preserving his own seal."2 This seems to mean that even if his seal is stolen or lost he is hound by it in the hands of any person who may use it. Britton seems to take the same view, but specifies a method whereby one who has lost his seal may, by public announcement of such fact, avoid subsequent liability thereunder. In speaking of defenses, Britton says: "Or he may plead, that this writing ought not to affect him, for at the time of it being made he had lost his seal, and caused it to be cried and published at the churches and markets, so that if anything was made under that seal after a certain day on which it was lost, it ought not to affect him; and in such manner he may deny the deed, and thereupon let the truth be inquired by the neighborhood where the deed is supposed to have been made, and according to the verdict of the country, let him who shall be found to have been guilty of falsehood be adjudged to prison, and punished by fine."3
173; Porter v. R. R. Co., 37 Me. 349; Tenney v. Lumber Co., 43 N. H. 343; Ransom v. Bank, 13 N. J. Eq. 212; Bank v. Ry. Co., 30 Vt. 160.
15 Eureka Co. v. Bailey Co., 11 Wall. (U. S.) 488; Gashwiler v. Willis, 33 Cal. 11; 91 Am. Dec. 607; Leinkauf v. Caiman, 110 N. Y. 50; 17 N. E. 389.
16 Jacksonville, etc., Co. v. Hooper, 160 U. S. 514. Contra, Caldwell V. Mfg. Co., 121 N. C. 339; 28 S. E. 475.
17 G.V. B. Mining Co. v. Bank, 95 Fed. 23; 36 C. C. A. 633; modifying 89 Fed. 439.
18 Thayer v. Mill Co., 31 Or. 437; 51 Pac. 202.
19 Mill, etc., Co. v. Hovey, 21 Pick. (Mass.) 417.
1 See Sec. 577 et seq.
1 Book X., ch. XII. (Beames's edition).