Face Challenges Confidently

143 Greer v. J. Hiram Moore

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Richard F. Brown

The following is not a legal opinion. You should consult your attorney if the case may be of significance to you.

In Greer v. J. Hiram Moore, Ltd.,1 the court determined that a “Mother Hubbard” clause in a deed will not convey a significant property interest not clearly contemplated by the language of the conveyance.2, Greer and her three sisters each received a twenty-acre tract out of an eighty-acre tract owned by their mother. Each sister received all of the surface, one-fourth of the minerals, and the executive rights on her own particular tract, as well as a one-fourth non-participating royalty interest in the other three tracts.3

Greer’s tract was Tract 3. Greer’s sisters leased Tracts 1 and 2, which were pooled into the SixS Frels Gas Unit. Greer conveyed her interest in the SixS Frels Gas Unit by a royalty deed that included a Mother Hubbard clause. Moore, as successor to Greer’s grantee, claimed that the Mother Hubbard clause included Tract 3.4 This particular form of Mother Hubbard clause included “all of grantor’s royalty and overriding royalty interest in all oil, gas and other minerals in the above named county or counties, whether actually or properly described herein or not . . . .”5

Moore claimed everything Greer owned in Wharton County.6 Moore cited a number of cases that upheld grants of interests within specified areas.7 The court distinguished these cases, because in each one the deed in issue clearly showed that the grantor intended to convey all of his interests in the specified area.8 Because Greer’s deed contained a specific description of the pooled unit, a specified area which did not include Tract 3, the court found Moore’s cases inapplicable, and it applied the established interpretation of Mother Hubbard clauses.9 The leading case is Jones v. Colle,10 which holds that Mother Hubbard clauses are limited to minor interests that are unambiguously intended to be part of larger conveyances.11 The property interest in Tract 3 was significant, and therefore the Mother Hubbard clause did not convey Tract 3.12

1. 72 S.W.3d 436 (Tex. App.–Corpus Christi 2002).
2. Id. at 441.
3. Id. at 438.
4. Id.
5. Id.
6. Id.
7. Id. at 439-40.
8. Id.at 440.
9. 727 S.W.2d 262, 96 O&GR 141 (Tex. 1987).
10. Greer, 72 S.W.3d at 441.
11. Id.
12. Id.