No. 166.
Mr. Phelps to Mr. Bayard.

No. 285.]

Sir: Referring to your instructions No. 278, under date of April 24, 1886, in reference to a claim by some person in America, not named, to a supposed estate in England known as the “Dalton estate,” I have to say:

So far as I can learn there is no such estate in England.
Nor is there any such title in the peerage as “Lord Dalton.”
If there had been such an estate, and it had actually devolved previous to the American Revolution in the precise manner suggested by this claimant, the law of England would afford an insurmountable barrier to its recovery after such a lapse of time, even if the facts on which the title depended and the heirship of the claimant could be established at this late day by legal evidence.
And as the knowledge of the claimant appears to be only a vague tradition, unsupported by documents or proof, such evidence would probably be impossible to obtain.

This case is one of those constantly-recurring delusions among the less intelligent class of the American people which occasion many hundreds of applications to this legation. Most of that class are possessed of the idea that the respective families to which they belong are entitled to vast estates in England, now in the hands of the British Government, awaiting distribution among American heirs, under titles that occurred several centuries ago. The entire property in Great Britain would not be sufficient to satisfy these claims if they were all established.

This belief is fostered by designing persons, who issue advertisements inquiring for heirs of almost all known surnames, and it is given out that these advertisements emanate from the British Government, who are anxious to distribute the possessions in their hands. It is quite impossible to make known to the people for whom these publications are intended that the Government hold no such property, do no such business, and issue no such advertisements. That all the real and personal estate in England, as in America, is in the hands of proprietors who claim it, who are unwilling to relinquish it, and cannot be divested of it except by actions at law based on sufficient grounds and supported by competent evidence, and that such actions, if instituted in England, would stand the same chance of success as they would in the American courts if the claimants sought to possess themselves there of the lands or money of their neighbors under titles derived from ancestors supposed to have existed two or three hundred years ago.

I have, &c.,