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.
At Common Law lapse of time might give rise to title by prescription or adverse possession in the case of realty. It might give rise to a presumption of payment in the case of debts. Apart from these cases, however, lapse of time did not operate as a bar to an action.1 Lapse of time as a bar to an action is therefore purely statutory. The statute of James I.2 was the original statute of limitations in England of any general application. This statute has, within many modifications and improvements, served as the basis of the statutes of limitation in the United States, though our statutes now, by reason of repeated amendment, have much less in common with the statute of James I. than did our earlier statutes of limitation.