The late Samuel Telfair had married defender Dorothea Telfair in 1764. Before his death, on April 8, 1767, Samuel deeded to Dorothea all of his moveable effects as well as a liferent in a tenement of houses in the burgh of Kirkcudbright. Samuel Telfair died on May 10, 1767. Dorothea then married Hugh Schaw. Pursuer Jean Telfair was Samuel Telfair's sister and only heir. Jean sought to void the liferent deed to Dorothea on the grounds that Samuel was of weak mental capacity during the marriage and that he disposed of the property in a deathbed deed. She brought an action for reducing the liferent investment. Dorothea maintained that Samuel Telfair was in an "ordinary state of health" at the time of this disposition and "perfectly sound in judgment." At issue in this case was Samuel Telfair's capacity to dispose of his personal and real property.

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