A case of some public interest, as affecting the right
of tenants for life under settlements to work minerals, was decided by Vice-Chancellor Wood on the 19th inst. Tenants for life may work mines already opened, but if not empowered to commit waste, may not open new mines for their own benefit, and the question hail often been raised,—what amount of previous work- ing renders a mine open, so that tenants for life may work it for themselves ? The plaintiffs in this case were Colonel Stepney and his two sons, who are the present owners of the Stepney estates in South Wales ; and the defendant was Mr. William Chambers, who is the executor of a late tenant for life of the estate, who was not by the terms of the will of the settler authorized to commit waste. On coming into possession of the estate, however, be granted a lease of all the coal under certain farms forming part of the estate, and the suit in question was instituted for the purpose of recovering the amount of royalties received under this lease. The defendant contended that the mines were open ones at the date of the settlement, and that it was consequently not waste in a tenant for life to work them ; and in support of his view he proved the existence on the farms of an old trial pit, and a very considerable amount of superficial working at the outcrop of the various seams of coal on the side of the mountain. The Vice- Chancellor, however, held that workings of this description did not amount to an opening of the mine, and gave the plaintiffs a decree with costs.