This section is from the book "A Treatise On The Construction Of The Statute Of Frauds", by Causten Browne. Also available from Amazon: A treatise on the construction of the Statute of frauds.
3 Ulen v. Kittredge, 7 Mass. 233. See also Underwood v. Hossack, 38 111. 208; Blacknall v. Parish, 6 Jones (ST. C.) Eq.70. From the manand stands directly opposed to that of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire a few years later, where the reasons against the admission of such an exception are very forcibly stated. It is there urged that such a signature cannot be said to authenticate, or bind the party signing to an admission* of what is afterward inserted; and the court say: "There is a material distinction between authorizing an agent to sign a contract already written, or make and sign an agreement, and authorizing an agent to reduce to writing a contract already made. Where an agent has been authorized to sign a contract reduced to writing, as soon as his authority and signature are proved, the writing becomes evidence of the terms of the contract. The authority of signature may be proved by parole. ... So where an agent has been authorized to make a contract, and has reduced it to writing and signed it, when his authority and signature are proved, the writing itself becomes evidence of the contract, and although the principal may deny the authority and signature of the agent, he would not be permitted to introduce evidence to show that the contract made by the agent was different from the written contract. In both these cases the signature of the agent is an admission that the contents of the writing are true, and it is this circumstance that makes the writing evidence. But where an agent has been authorized to write over the signature of the principal a contract already made, it is not enough to prove the signature of the principal, and the authority of the agent to write a contract over it; this does not make the writing evidence of the contract, unless the contract is to be presumed to be anything the agent pleased to write. It would still be necessary to show that the agent had pursued his authority, and this could be done only by showing what the contract was, and comparing it with the writing."1 ner in which Ulen v. Kittredge was afterwards referred to in Packard v. Richardson, 17 Mass. 122, the court do not seem altogether to approve it. 1 Hodgkins v. Bond, 1 N. H. 287. See also Jackson v. Titus, 2 Johns. (N. Y.) 430; ante, § 12; Wood v. Midgley, 5 De G., M & G. 41; Ayres v. Probasco, 11 Kansas * 175.
§ 361. It is very reasonable, however, and has lately been decided in the Court of Exchequer, that words afterward introduced into a paper signed by a party, or any alteration in it, may be considered as authenticated by a signature already on the paper, if it be clear that they were meant to be so authenticated, and that the act of signing after the introduction of the words is not absolutely necessary. Indeed, the case where this was held (the circumstances of which were somewhat singular) went still further, and held the previous signature to authenticate the subsequent alteration, though the latter was made by the plaintiff himself, and not by the party signing. The declaration stated, that one O'Connell agreed with the plaintiff to buy certain wines, part for £200, and part for £150, and the defendant undertook to procure two bills, one for each of those sums, to be accepted by O'Connell on their being drawn by the plaintiff, and delivered to the defendant, and to see them paid at maturity. The breach alleged was that he did not see them paid. The evidence showed that the defendant's engagement, which was in writing, was that upon the plaintiff's handing him two drafts on O'Connell for £200 and £146 respectively, he would get them accepted by the defendant and see them paid. It also appeared that afterward, the true price of the second lot turning out to be £150 instead of £146, the bills were drawn for the correct amounts, and the defendant got them accepted and gave them to the plaintiff, and then wrote across the face of his guaranty the following in his own hand: " I have received the two drafts (one being for £150 instead of £146, there being an error in the invoice of £4), both accepted by Mr. O'Connell;" and the plaintiff signed this memorandum, but the defendant did not. It was held that the defendant's undertaking was rightly described as an undertaking to see the two bills of £200 and £150 respectively paid by O'Connell, and that the original signature covered and authenticated the subsequent correction, as to the amount of the smaller bill, within the Statute of Frauds, although it was in form signed, not by the defendant, but by the plaintiff. The view taken by the Barons, who confessed some difficulty in coming to their conclusion, is very clearly stated by Mr. Baron Piatt. He says: "Suppose that, after this instrument was signed, the defendant, with his own hand, had altered the £146 into £150; there could be no doubt that there would have been a sufficient contract within the statute, without re-signing the agreement. Then the effect of this memorandum, as it seems to me, is just the same as if the defendant had written upon the face of it, that 'a bill for £150 has been drawn instead of one for £146, there being an error as to the amount of the invoice price;' and then for the plaintiff to have written underneath, 'I have received the two above-mentioned bills.' That being in the handwriting of the defendant, on the face of the original agreement, seems to me to justify us in holding that the transaction operates as a signature within the Statute of Frauds." l
§ 362. A further question, not without difficulty, on this point of signature is, whether the name of the party must be actually signed to the instrument. In Selby v. Selby, Sir William Grant, M. R., held that a letter from a mother to her son, beginning with, "My dear Robert," and concluding with, "Your affectionate Mother," was not signed, so as to constitute a binding agreement on the part of the mother, within the intent of the Statute of Frauds. He said: "It is not enough that the party may be identified. He is required to sign; there may be in the instrument a very sufficient description to answer the purpose of identification, without a signing, that is, without the party having either put his name to it, or done some other act intended by him to be equivalent to the actual signature of the name."2 With submission to so high a judicial authority, it may be asked, whether such a conclusion as was borne by the letter before him was not manifestly intended by the writer to be equivalent to the actual signature of her name; especially as the letter was sent to its address as a completed communication. In cases where the initials only of the party are signed, it is quite clear that, with the aid of parol evidence, which is admitted to apply to them, the signature is to be held valid.1 There certainly seems to be some difficulty in distinguishing the cases.