As in other questions of construction,1 the object of the courts in determining the nature of the liability which is assumed by a party who executes a contract is to ascertain the intention of the parties from the language which they have used in the contract and from the surrounding facts and circumstances of the case. In the case of negotiable instruments the means to which the courts may resort in determining the intention of the parties is somewhat limited by the rule that the rights and liabilities of the parties to a negotiable instrument must be ascertained from the face of the instrument itself.2 The rules which determine the effect of any given form of signature are qualified therefore to a very large extent by the rule that the language which is used in the body of the instrument itself aids in determining the liability of the parties and that language must be considered as well as the form of the signature.3 If there is nothing in the body of the instrument to determine the nature of the liability which is assumed and if the rights of the parties are not affected by any statutory provision, the weight of authority is to the effect that if the form of a signature to a contract is "A, agent," or some equivalent expression, omitting the word "as" before "agent," and omitting similar expressions which would tend to show that personal liability was not to be asumed, A, who signs in such a manner, incurs a personal liability,4 at least if there is nothing in the instrument itself to indicate who the real principal is.5

3 Williams v. Harris, 198 111. 501, 64 N. E. 988 [reversing, 98 111. App. 27].

4Rawlings v. Robson, 70 Ga. 595; Bartlett v. Tucker, 104 Mass. 336, 6 Am. Rep. 240.

5Wheelock v. Winslow, 15 Ia. 464; Long v. Col burn, 11 Mass. 97, 6 Am. Dec. 160.

6 Rice v. Gove, 39 Mass. (22 Pick.) 158, 33 Am. Dec. 724.

7Tannatt v. Rocky Mountain National Bank, 1 Colo. 278, 9 Am. Rep. 156; Offutt v. Ayers, 23 Ky. (7 T. B. Mon.) 356; Peterson v. Homan, 44

Minn. 166, 20 Am. St. Rep. 564, 46 N. W. 303.

8 Early v. Wilkinson, 50 Va. (9 Gratt.) 68.

9 Macbean v. Morrison, 8 Ky. (1 A. K. Mar.) 545.

10 DeWitt v. Walton, 9 N. Y. 571.

11 Little v. Bailey, 87 111. 239.

12 See Sec. 1810, 1815, 1820, 1826, 1834.

13 Savings Bank v. Market Co., 122 Cal. 28, 54 Pac. 273. (Extrinsic evidence is not admissible to show that such note was given only to ratify certain acts of the directors.)

1 See Sec. 2023 et seq.

2 See Sec. 2312 et seq.

3 See Sec. 2005.

4 England. Thomas v. Bishop, Strange 065. .

California. Hall v. Jameson, 151 Cal. 606, 121 Am. St. Rep. 137, 12 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1190, 91 Pac. 518.

Georgia. Burkhalter v. Perry, 127 Oa. 438, 119 Am. St. Rep. 343, 56 S E. 631; Coaling Coal & Coke Co. v. Howard, 130 Ga. 807, 21 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1051, 61 S. E. 987.

Illinois. Braun v. Hess, 187 111. 283, 79 Am. St. Rep. 221, 58 N. E. 371; McDonald v. Bond, 195 111. 122, 62 N. E. 881 [affirming, 96 111. App. 116].

Iowa. Schumacher v. Dolan, 154 Ia. 207, 134 N. W. 624.

Louisiana. Dayries v. Lindsly, 128 La. 259, 54 So. 791.

Michigan. Keidan v. Winegar, 95 Mich. 430, 20 L. R. A. 705, 54 N. W. 901.

Mississippi. Stinson v. Lee, 68 Miss. 113, 24 Am. St. Rep. 257, 9 L. R. A. 830, 8 So. 272.

Missouri. Sparks v. Transfer Co., 104 Mo. 531, 24 Am. St. Rep. 351, 12 L. R. A. 714, 15 S. W. 417.

Nebraska. Western Wheeled Scraper Co. v. McMillen, 71 Neb. 686, 99 N. W. 512.

New Mexico. Ellis v. Stone, 21 N. M. 730, L. R. A. 1916F, 1228, 158 Pac. 480.

Washington. Griffin v. Union Savings & Trust Co.,86 Wash. 605, 150 Pac. 1128.

West Virginia. Exchange Bank v. Lewis County, 28 W. Va. 273.

Especially if such contract is in excess of the authority of the agent. Griffin v. Union Savings Bank & Trust Co., 86 Wash. 605, 150 Pac. 1128.

A signature, "A, attorney," imposes a personal liability. Griffin v. Union Savings & Trust Co., 86 Wash. 605, 150 Pac. 1128.

5 Burkhalter v. Perry, 127 Ga. 438, 119 Am. St. Rep. 343, 56 S. E. 631 (obiter); Griffin v. Union Savings & Trust Co., 86 Wash. 605, 150 Pac. 1128.

This rule is of old common-law origin. At a time when it was customary for every person, on signing an instrument, to add his station and rank in life or occupation, as a descriptio personae, the word "agent," like any other word showing occupation, might well serve to describe the person rather than to show in what capacity he was contracting. The rule thus established has survived to a day when the use of a designation of an occupation as a description of the person is almost unknown in written contracts, and when it is undoubtedly the popular belief that the addition of the word agent to a signature prevents personal liability.

A signature "A, trustee," is held to impose personal liability.6 Even where great liberality in admitting extrinsic evidence to show the intention of the parties is displayed, it is held that the signature "A, administratrix," while a fact to be considered in discovering the intention of the parties, is no more conclusive that no personal liability was intended than would be "A, widow," or "A, native of Oregon."7 A distinction, according to some authorities, must be made between "agent for" and "agent of": the former showing an intention not to assume a personal liability, while the latter is treated in law as a mere descriptio personae.8 A note signed by an individual name with the addition of "mfg. agt. & supt. of contracts'," imposes a personal liability.9 So a note signed "A, trustee," imposes a personal liability.10 So to hold an indorser liable on a note signed "A, agent," demand must be made on A and not on the undisclosed principal.11 If a church is not named in the body of a note, and the trustees sign individually, the addition of the words "trustees of" the church in question is not sufficient to show that no personal liability was intended.12 So a signature "A, vestryman, * * * Grace Church," imposes a personal liability upon A.13 Even on this point the courts are by no means unanimous. Some authorities hold that a designation of agency may, in connection with the wording of the instrument, show that no personal liability is intended.14 A draft which is signed "A, agent," underneath which are the words "B & C," is to be regarded as a draft executed by B and C, if A was authorized to execute such instrument.15 Extrinsic evidence may be admitted to show an intention not to impose personal liability upon the agent.16 So a note signed "A, B, C, vestrymen of the Episcopal Society," was held not to impose personal liability on A, B and C.17 An indorsement by "A, Sec. & Treas.," is not the personal indorsement of A.18 A note signed "James R. Wilson, Pres. T. N. Co.," was held to be the obligation of the corporation.19 So a note beginning, "We promise," and signed, "A, treasurer," and stamped with a seal bearing the corporate name, was held to be the note of the corporation and not of A.20

6 Duvall v. Craig, 15 U. S. (2 Wheat.) 45, 4 L. ed. 180; Powers v. Briggs, 79 111. 403, 22 Am. Rep. 175; McKenney v. Bowie, 94 Me. 397, 47 Atl. 918; Farrell v. Reed, 46 Neb. 258, 64 N. W. 959.

7 Kitchen v. Holmes, 42 Or. 252, 70 Pac. 830.

8 Colorado. Tannatt v. Bank, 1 Colo. 278, 9 Am. Rep. 156.

Illinois. Burlingamc v. Brewster, 79 111. 515, 22 Am. Rep. 177.

Maine. Mellen v. Moore, 68 Me. 390, 28 Am. Rep. 77.

Massachusetts. Tucker Mfg. Co. v. Fairbanks, 98 Mass. 101.

Nebraska. Western Wheeled Scraper Co. v. McMillen, 71 Neb. 686, 99 N. W. 512.

New York. Brockway v. Allen, 17 Wend. (N. Y.) 40.

9 Keeley Brewing Co. v. Decorating Co., 194 111. 580, 62 N. E. 923.

10 California. Hall v. Jameson, 151 Cal. 606, 121 Am. St. Rep. 137, 12 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1190, 91 Pac. 518.

Georgia. Fargason v. Ford, 119 Ga. 343, 46 S. E. 431.

Massachusetts. McClellan v. Robe. 93 Ind. 298; Fiske v. Eldridge, 78 Mass. (12 Gray) 474.

Nebraska. Farrell v. Reed, 46 Neb 258, 64 N. W. 959.

South Carolina. Guimarin v. Southern Life A Trust Co., 106 S. Car. 37, 90 S. E. 319.

11 Stinson v. Lee, 68 Miss. 113, 24 Am. St. Rep. 257, 9 L. R. A. 830, 8 So. 272.

Under the Negotiable Instruments Act, no personal liability is imposed on one who signs in a representative capacity. It has been held that a note signed by "A, trustee,"21 or indorsed by "A, trustee,"22 may be shown not to be intended as the personal obligation of A. Under the Negotiable Instruments Law the addition of the word "agent" to the name of one who does not indicate his principal, does not relieve such person from personal liability.23 A contract which is signed by "A, pastor of the X Church," imposes a personal liability upon A;24 and at any rate if B has assumed and agreed to pay such obligation as an obligation of A's, B can not avoid liability thereon by showing that it was not A's personal obligation.25

12 Burlingame v. Brewster, 79 111. 515, 22 Am. Rep. 177; Hayes v. Bru-baker, 65 Ind. 27; Hays v. Crutcher, 54 Ind. 260.

13 Tilden v. Barnard, 43 Mich. 376, 38 Am. Rep. 197, 5 N. W. 420.

14 Fuller v. Hooper, 60 Mass. (3 Gray) 334; Ballou v. Talbot, 16 Mass. 461, 8 Am. Dec. 146; Dispatch Line v. Mfg. Co., 12 N. H. 205, 37 Am. Dec. 203; Safford v. Wyckoff, 1 Hill (N. Y.) 11, 4 Hill (N. Y.) 442; Citizens' National Bank v. Ariss, 68 Wash. 448, 123 Pac. 593.

15 Citizens' National Bank v. Ariss, 68 Wash. 448, 123 Pac. 593.

16 Raleigh & Gaston Railroad Go. v Pullman Co., 122 Ga. 700, 50 8. E. 1008. See Sec. 2206 et seq. '

17 Johnson v. Smith, 21 Conn. 627.

18Falk v. Moebs, 127 U. S. 597, 32 L. ed. 266.

19Olcott v. Ry., 27 N. Y. 546, 84 Am. Dec. 298.

20 Miller v. Roach, 150 Mass. 140, 6 L. R. A. 71, 22 N. E. 634.

21 Megowan v. Peterson, 173 N. Y. 1, 65 N. E. 738.

22 American Trust Co. v. Canevin, 181 Fed. 657, 107 C. C. A. 543.

23 Dayries v. Lindsly, 128 La. 259, 54 So. 791.

If a bank accepts a deposit in the name of "A, agent," it can not set off A's personal debt to the bank as against A's principal, the true owner of such fund.26