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.
If the written contract shows that some particular parties were intended, but does not show with sufficient accuracy who such parties are, extrinsic evidence is admissible to identify such parties,1 and as will be seen from the cases given, evidence of the intention direct may be resorted to. Extrinsic evidence is admissible to identify the office of a public officer so as to explain an ambiguity in his bond.2 A contract which is entered into in the name of a company may be explained by extrinsic evidence to identify the members of the company and to show upon whom it was intended to impose the obligation.3 Under a written contract to pay money to a "railroad," extrinsic evidence can be used to show what railroad corporation was intended.4 So where a written contract purporting on its face to be made between A and B, is signed by A, C, D and B in the order given, it may be shown that C and D sign as sureties for B.5 Where a note is signed by A at the right, and by B at the left of the instrument, opposite A's signature, B may show that he signed as witness.6 So under an instrument "I. O. U. the sum of one hundred and sixty dollars, which I shall pay on demand to you," the real party intended by "you" may be shown.7 So where a note omits payee's name but recites "value received of him," the payee may be shown.8 So under a note "we promise to pay to the order of myself," signed by two persons, the real maker and payee may be shown.9 If the name set forth in the contract is shown not to be the name of the person therein described, extrinsic evidence may be admitted to show who such person is. Thus A took out a policy payable to "Mrs. Kate Hogan, his wife." Evidence was admitted to show that he had a wife, Ellen B. Hogan, and a married sister, Kate Wallace, formerly Kate Hogan; that the insured could not write and asked a physician to make out the application, and that the latter thought that the insured's wife was named Kate.10 Parties may be identified by extrinsic evidence even if the contract is one required to be proved in writing, or is required to be in writing. Thus extrinsic evidence is admissible to show that in a promise to pay A's debt to "your concern," addressed to "Friend Geo." the latter was the agent of A's creditor, the "concern." 11 Mistake in the name of a grantee may be explained by extrinsic evidence.12 Thus extrinsic evidence is admissible to show to whom a mortgage was to be paid.13 So where a deed was made to "John Elliott and Amanda Elliott, his wife," evidence is admissible to show that Amanda Elliott, the grantee, was a woman with whom John Elliott was living in unlawful relations, though he had a lawful wife liv-ing, named Amanda.14 Where a deed was made to a woman after her marriage, and her maiden name was inserted as that of grantee, extrinsic evidence was admissible to show that she was intended as the grantee, and that the grantor did not know of her marriage.15 Where the Christian name of a grantee is omitted from a deed, extrinsic evidence is admissible to show who the grantee is.16 If a conveyance is made to a partnership in its firm name, the grantees may be identified by extrinsic evidence.17 Under a deed to "Jarrett, Moon & Co.," extrinsic evidence was admissible to show whether Jarrett was one grantee and Moon another, or whether Jarrett Moon was the name of the sole grantee.18 Under a grant to A, "as trustee," extrinsic evidence is admissible to show for whom he was acting as trustee.19 Extrinsic evidence is admissible to show that the persons who executed a deed were all of the children of the grantor.20
1 Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Lillard, 86 Ark. 208, 17 L. R. A. (N.S.) 836, 110 S. W. 1035; National Bank v. Duff, 77 Kan. 248, 16 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1047, 94 Pac. 260; Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Collins, 45 Kan. 88, 10 L. R. A. 515, 25 Pac. 187; Magie v. Herman, 50 Minn. 424, 36 Am. 2St. Rep. 660, 52 N. W. 909; In re Bugbee's Will, - Vt. - , 102 Atl. 484.
2 National Bank v. Duff, 77 Kan. 248, 16 L. R. A. (N.S.) 1047, 94 Pac. 260.
3 Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Lillard, 86 Ark. 208, 17 L. R. A. (N.S.) 836, 110 S. W. 1035.
4In re Bugbee's Will, - Vt. - , 102 Atl. 484.
5 Strain v. Fitzgerald, 130 N. Car. 600, 41 S. E. 872.
6Grand Isle v. Kinney, 70 Vt. 381, 41 Atl. 130.
1 Alabama. Townley v. Corona Coal & Iron Co., - Ala. - , 77 So. 1.
Iowa. Kuhl v. Chamberlain, 140 Ia. 546, 21 L. R. A. (N.S.) 766, 118 N. W. 776.
Kentucky. Geary v. Taylor, 166 Ky. 501, 170 S. W. 426.
Maryland. Morrison v. Baechtold, 93 Md. 319, 48 Atl. 926.
North Carolina. Walker v. Miller, 139 N. Car. 448, 1 L. R. A. (N.S.) 157, 52 S. E. 125; Troy & North Carolina Gold Mining Co. v. Snow Lumber Co., 170 N. Car. 273, 87 S. E. 40.
2 Kuhl v. Chamberlain. 140 Ia. 546. 21 L. R. A. (N.S.) 766, 118 N. W. 776.
3 Geary v. Taylor, 166 Ky. 501, 179 S. W. 426.
4 Mansfield, etc., R. R. v. Brown, 26 O. S. 223.
5 Thompson v. Coffman, 15 Or. 631, 16 Pac. 713.
6Aultman, etc., Co. v. Gunderson, 6 S. I). 226. 55 Am. St. Rep. 837, 60 N W. 859.
7 Kinney v. Flynn, 2 R. I. 319.
8 Barkley v. Tarrant, 20 S. Car. 574, 47 Am. Rep. 853 (even where the note was under seal).
9 Jenkins v. Bass, 88 Ky. 397, 21 Am. St. Rep. 344, 11 S. W. 293.
10Hogan v. Wallace, 166 111. 328, 46 N. E. 1136. (From these facts the supreme court found that the wife was the beneficiary intended. They rejected, not as inadmissible, but as improbable, further evidence of the physician that the insured named the beneficiary "Kate Hogan," that the physician asked if that was the insured's wife, that insured remained silent, and that the physician added "his wife.")
11 Haskell v. Tukesbury, 92 Me. 551, 68 Am. St. Rep. 529, 43 Atl. 500.
12Troy & North Carolina Gold Mining Co. v. Snow Lumber Co., 170 N. Car. 273, 87 S. E. 40.
13 Morgan v. Lake View Co., 97 Wis. 275, 72 N. W. 872.
14 Wolff v. Elliott, 68 Ark. 326, 57 S. W. 1111.
15Scanlan v. Wright, 30 Mass. (13 Pick.) 523, 25 Am. Dec. 344.
16 Leach v. Dodson, 64 Tex. 185.
17 Walker v. Miller, 139 N. Car. 448, 1 L. R. A. (NS.) 157, 52 S. E. 125.
18 Holmes v. Jarrett, 54 Tenn. (7 Heisk.) 506. (In either case, the grantee would take in trust for the partnership.)
19 Union Pacific R. R. v. Durant, 95 U. S. 576, 24 L. ed. 391.
20 Townley v. Corona Coal & Iron Co., - Ala. - , 77 So. 1.