1 Wallis v. Wallis, 4 Mass. 135; Doe v. Simpson, 2 Wils. 22; Doe v. Salkeld, Willes, 673; Doe v. Whittingham, 4 Taunt. 20; Shep. Touch. 82, 83; Roe v. Tranmer, 2 Wils. 78. In this case, Willes, C. J., says: " Certainly it is more considerable to make the intent good in passing the estate, if by any legal means it may be done, than by considering the manner of passing it, to disappoint the intent and principal thing, which was to pass the land. Osman v. Sheafe, 3 Lev. 370."
2 Roe v. Tranmer, 2 Wils. 75; Shep. Touch. 82. See also Goodtitle v. Bailey. 2 Cowp. 597; Hastings v. Blue Hill Turnpike, 9 Pick. 80; Vanhorn
§ 780. Where the language of an instrument is neither uncertain nor ambiguous, it is to be expounded according to its apparent import;l and is not to be warped from the ordinary meaning of its terms, in order to harmonize it with uncertain suppositions, in regard either to the probable intention of the parties contracting, or to the probable changes which they would have made in their contract, had they foreseen certain contingencies. Wherever the words are clear and definite, they must be understood according to their grammatical construction and in their ordinary meaning.2 For such, it is natural to v. Harrison, 1 Dall. 137; Shove v. Pincke, 5 T. R. 124; Pray v. Pierce, 7 Mass. 381; Russell v. Coffin, 8 Pick. 143. .
1 And in such case, whether the contract be oral or written, its construction and effect are to be determined by the court. Globe Works v. Wright, 106 Mass. 207 (1870); Rice v. Dwight Manuf. Co., 2 Cush. 80; Short v. Woodward, 13 Gray, 96; Pratt v. Langdon, 12 Allen, 544. Where the intention is apparent, any error in the particulars or details of a description will be disregarded, as well in the case of a mortgage note as of persons or property. Prescott v. Hayes, 43 N. H. 593 (1862).
2 2 Evans's Pothier on Oblig. 37; Co. Litt. 147 a. Mr. Wigram, in his Treatise on the Interpretation of Wills, lays down, as a general principle of interpretation, the following propositions: -
"Proposition I. A testator is always presumed to use the words in which he expresses himself, according to their strict and primary acceptation, unless, from the context of the will, it appears that he has used them in a different sense, in which case the sense in which he thus appears to have used them will be the sense in which they are to be construed.
"Proposition II. Where there is nothing in the context of a will from which it is apparent that a testator has used the words in which he has expressed himself in any other than their strict and primary sense, and where his words so interpreted are sensible with reference to extrinsic circumstances, it is an inflexible rule of construction, that the. words of the will shall be interpreted in their strict and primary sense, and in no other, although they may be capable of some popular or secondary interpretation, and although the most conclusive evidence of intention to use them in such popular or secondary sense be tendered.
"Proposition III. Where there is nothing in the context of a will, from which it is apparent that a testator has used the words in which he has expressed himself in any other than their strict and primary sense, but his words, so interpreted, are insensible with reference to extrinsic circumstances, a court of law may look into the extrinsic circumstances of the case, to see whether the meaning of the words be sensible in any popular or suppose, is the intention of the party using them. Thus, where a testator devised "my estate at Ashton," parol evidence was held to be inadmissible to show that he intended to pass not only his lands in Ashton, but also those in adjoining parishes, which he was accustomed to call his Ashton estate.1 So, also, where an insurance was effected on fruit, and the policy contained the usual clause, that corn, fruit, &cc, "are warranted free from average, unless general, or the ship be stranded,', secondary sense, of which, with reference to these circumstances, they are capable.
" Proposition IV. Where the characters in which a will is written .are difficult to be deciphered, or the language of the will is not understood by the court, the evidence of persons skilled in deciphering writing, or who understand the language in which the will is written, is admissible to declare what the characters are, or to inform the court of the proper meaning of the words.
"Proposition V. For the purpose of determining the object of a testator's bounty, or the subject of disposition, or the quantity of interest intended to be given by his will, a court may inquire into every material fact relating to the person who claims to be interested under the will, and to the property which is claimed as the subject of disposition, and to the circumstances of the testator, and of his family and affairs, for the purpose of enabling the court to identify the person or thing intended by the testator, or to determine the quantity of interest he has given by his will.
"The same (it is conceived) is true of every other disputed point, respecting which it can be shown that a knowledge of extrinsic facts can, in any way, be made ancillary to the right interpretation of a testator's words.
"Proposition VI. Where the words of a will, aided by evidence of the material facts of the case, are insufficient to determine the testator's meaning, no evidence will be admissible to prove what the testator intended, and the will (except in certain special cases, see Prop. VII.) will be void for uncertainty.
"Proposition VII. Notwithstanding the rule of law, which makes a will void for uncertainty, where the words, aided by evidence of the material facts of the case, are insufficient to determine the testator's meaning, courts of law, in certain special cases, admit extrinsic evidence of intention to make certain the person or thing intended, where the description in the will is insufficient for the purpose.