Defender Thomas Johnston of Templehall obtained a tack of Prenderguest from Robert Robertson. The tack contained a clause allowing Robert to retake possession of forty acres in the event that he decided to build a house and offices on it. After granting the tack, Robert transferred the lands to his son Alexander, who sought to invoke this clause. A dispute arose between Alexander and Johnston, and the case was submitted to arbiters. Robert, the father, then raised an action before the Sheriff of Berwickshire seeking immediate possession of forty acres; his son Alexander was subsequently added as pursuer. Johnston argued that under a decree pronounced by the arbiters, Alexander could not take possession of the full forty acres until he had actually built a house.

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