4 Jefferyes v. Legendra, 1 Show. 321; Lilly v. Ewer, 1 Doug. 72; Webb v. Thomson, 1 Bos. & Pul. 5; Anderson v. Pitcher, 2 Bos. & Pul. 164.
5 Chanudflower v. Prestley, Yelv. 30, and cases there cited in note. See also, generally, Greenby v. Wilcocks, 2 Johns. 1; Dobson v. Crew, Cro* Eliz. 705; Pen v. Glover, Moore, 402; s. c. Cro. Eliz. 421.
6 Chapin v. Clemitson, 1 Barb. 311.
1 Hitchin v. Groom, 5 C. B. 515.
2 Bell v. Bruen, 1 How. 169. In this case, Mr. Justice Catron says: "Letters of guaranty are usually written by merchants; rarely with caution, and scarcely ever with precision; they refer in most cases, as in the present, to various circumstances, and extensive commercial dealings, in the briefest and most casual manner, without any regard to form; leaving much to inference, and their meaning open to ascertainment from extrinsic circumstances and facts accompanying the transaction; without referring to which they could rarely be properly understood by merchants, or by courts of justice. The attempt, therefore, to bring them to a standard of construction, founded on principles neither known nor regarded by the writers, could not do otherwise than produce confusion. Such has been the consequence of the attempt to subject this description of commercial engagement to the same rules of interpretation applicable to bonds and similar precise contracts. Of the fallacy of which attempt, the investigation of this cause has furnished a striking and instructive instance. These are considerations applicable to both of the arguments.
"The construction contended for as the true one on the part of the plaintiffs, is, that the letter of the defendant must be taken in the broadest sense which its language allows, thereby to widen its application. To assert this as a general principle, would so often, and so surely, violate the intention of the guarantor, that it is rejected. We think the court should adopt the construction which, under all the circumstances of the case, ascribes the most reasonable, probable, and natural conduct to the parties. In the language of this court, in Douglass v. Reynolds, 7 Peters, 122, 'Every instrument of this sort ought to receive a fair and reasonable interpretation according to the true import of its terms. It being an engagement for the debt of another, there is certainly no reason for giving it an expanded signification or liberal construction, beyond the fair import of the terms.1 Or, it is ' to be construed according to what is fairly to be presumed to have been the understanding of the parties, without any strict technical nicety;' as declared in Dick v. Lee, 10 Peters, 493. The presumption is of course to be ascertained from the facts and circumstances accompanying the entire transaction. We hold these to be the proper rules of interpretation, applicable to the letter before us." See also Lawrence v. McCal-mont, 2 How, 449. See post, § 1122, 1123.
§ 786. So, also, the general sweeping clause in a deed will be limited to estates and things of the same nature and description as those previously mentioned. Thus, where a person having a paternal estate, which was under a settlement in Limerick, and two other estates in Mayo and Roscommon, made a voluntary settlement of the latter, describing them particularly in the deed, "together with all his other estates in the kingdom of Ireland;" it was held, that only the estates in Mayo and Roscommon passed.1 Within this rule, also, is included that class of cases in which the masculine is held to include both sexes; and the indefinite is construed to be universal.2 Thus, the term "men" has been held to include "women;" 3 the word "bucks" to include "does; "the word "horses" to include "mares."4
§ 787. So, where the words in a release are general, and unconnected with any recital by which they may be limited, they must be taken most strongly against the releasor, and operate as a release of all claims. But if there be any recital of a particular claim, followed by general words of release, the general words will be qualified and restrained by the particular recital.5 Thus, if a man receive £10, and give a receipt therefor, acquitting and releasing the debtor of that debt and of all other debts, actions, duties, and demands, nothing is released but the £10; because the last words must be limited by those foregoing.6 So, also, where A. having a demand on an executor for
1 Moore v. Magrath, 1 Cowp. 9.
2 Bro. Abr. Exposition des Termes, 39; Year-Book, 19 Henry VI. 41; Hetley, 9; 1 Pow. on Cont. 400, et seq.; Dennett v. Short, 7 Greenl. 150; Packard v. Hill, 7 Cow. 434; Hill v. Packard, 5 Wend. 375; The State v. Dunnavant, 3 Brev. 9.
3 Bro. Abr. Exposition des Termes, 39.
4 The State v. Dunnavant, 3 Brev. 9; Packard v. Hill, 7 Cow. 434.
5 Bac. Abr. Release, K.; 1 Pow. on Cont. 870, et seq.; 1 Domat, 38, § 21; Hesse v. Stevenson, 3 Bos. & Pul. 565; Piatt on Cov. 379; Barton v. Fitzgerald, 15 East, 530; Nind v. Marshall, 3 Moore, 703. Even words struck out of an instrument may be taken in view, to show that if the construction contended for had been intended, they would not have been erased. Strickland v. Maxwell, 2 Cr. & M. 539; Doe v. Anderson, 1 Stark. 155. See also Coddington v. Davis, 3 Denio, 17; Chapin v. Clemitson, 1 Barb. 311.
6 2 Roll. Abr. 409. Lord Holt is said to have denied this doctrine in the a legacy of £50, and also another demand for ,£25, for her dis-tributive part of her deceased sister's legacy, executed a release, in which, after reciting that she had received ,£25, as her distributive part of her sister's legacy, she acquitted and discharged the executor of all demands on him, in virtue of the will; it was held, that the release was to be limited in its operation to the particular sum recited, and that she was still entitled to her legacy of £50.1 Where the release is general, however, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to restrict it;2 though it would be otherwise in the case of a receipt.3