Defender Julian Steel was married to William Porterfield, the uncle of pursuer Boyd Porterfield. William Porterfield died without children, leaving Boyd Porterfield as his only heir. The marriage contract between Steel and Porterfield stipulated that, should Steel survive her husband, Steel would receive an annuity of 2,000 merks and a dwelling house (or the financial equivalent) from the Porterfield estate. Following the death of William Porterfield, Steel and Boyd Porterfield entered into a contract regarding rents from the lands of the estate. Steel alleged that she should have received more from the rents from the lands.

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