1. [syn: covenant, compact, concordat]
2. (Bible) an agreement between God and his people in which God makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from them in return;
1. enter into a covenant;
2. enter into a covenant or formal agreement;
- Example: "They covenanted with Judas for 30 pieces of silver"
- Example: "The nations covenanted to fight terrorism around the world"
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Covenant \Cov"e*nant\ (k?v"?-nant), n. [OF. covenant, fr. F. &
OF. convenir to agree, L. convenire. See Convene.]
1. A mutual agreement of two or more persons or parties, or
one of the stipulations in such an agreement.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant. --1 Sam.
Let there be covenants drawn between us. --Shak.
If we conclude a peace,
It shall be with such strict and severe covenants
As little shall the Frenchmen gain thereby. --Shak.
2. (Eccl. Hist.) An agreement made by the Scottish Parliament
in 1638, and by the English Parliament in 1643, to
preserve the reformed religion in Scotland, and to
extirpate popery and prelacy; -- usually called the
"Solemn League and Covenant."
He [Wharton] was born in the days of the Covenant,
and was the heir of a covenanted house. --Macaulay.
3. (Theol.) The promises of God as revealed in the
Scriptures, conditioned on certain terms on the part of
man, as obedience, repentance, faith, etc.
I will establish my covenant between me and thee and
thy seed after thee in their generations for an
everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to
thy seed after thee. --Gen. xvii.
4. A solemn compact between members of a church to maintain
its faith, discipline, etc.
(a) An undertaking, on sufficient consideration, in
writing and under seal, to do or to refrain from some
act or thing; a contract; a stipulation; also, the
document or writing containing the terms of agreement.
(b) A form of action for the violation of a promise or
contract under seal.
Syn: Agreement; contract; compact; bargain; arrangement;
Usage: Covenant, Contract, Compact, Stipulation.
These words all denote a mutual agreement between two
parties. Covenant is frequently used in a religious
sense; as, the covenant of works or of grace; a church
covenant; the Solemn League and Covenant. Contract is
the word most used in the business of life. Crabb and
Taylor are wrong in saying that a contract must always
be in writing. There are oral and implied contracts as
well as written ones, and these are equally enforced
by law. In legal usage, the word covenant has an
important place as connected with contracts. A compact
is only a stronger and more solemn contract. The term
is chiefly applied to political alliances. Thus, the
old Confederation was a compact between the States.
Under the present Federal Constitution, no individual
State can, without consent of Congress, enter into a
compact with any other State or foreign power. A
stipulation is one of the articles or provisions of a
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Covenant \Cov"e*nant\ (k?v"?-n?nt), v. i. [imp. & p. p.
Covenanted; p. pr. & vb. n. Covenanting.]
To agree (with); to enter into a formal agreement; to bind
one's self by contract; to make a stipulation.
Jupiter covenanted with him, that it should be hot or
cold, wet or dry, . . . as the tenant should direct.
And they covenanted with him for thyrty pieces of
silver. --Matt. xxvi.
Syn: To agree; contract; bargain; stipulate.
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Covenant \Cov"e*nant\, v. t.
To grant or promise by covenant.
My covenant of peace that I covenanted with you.
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
n 1: a signed written agreement between two or more parties
(nations) to perform some action [syn: covenant,
2: (Bible) an agreement between God and his people in which God
makes certain promises and requires certain behavior from
them in return
v 1: enter into a covenant
2: enter into a covenant or formal agreement; "They covenanted
with Judas for 30 pieces of silver"; "The nations covenanted
to fight terrorism around the world"
Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0:
52 Moby Thesaurus words for "covenant":
accord, agree, agree on, agree to, agree with, agreement,
arrangement, bargain, bargain for, binding agreement, bond, cartel,
collective agreement, come around to, come to terms, compact,
concur, consortium, contract, convention, covenant of salt, deal,
dicker, do a deal, employment contract, engage, formal agreement,
get together, ironclad agreement, legal agreement, legal contract,
make a deal, mutual agreement, pact, paction, pledge, plight,
promise, protocol, shake hands on, shake on it, stipulate,
stipulation, strike a bargain, swear, transaction, understanding,
undertake, union contract, valid contract, vow, wage contract
Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary:
a contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old
Testament the Hebrew word _berith_ is always thus translated.
_Berith_ is derived from a root which means "to cut," and hence
a covenant is a "cutting," with reference to the cutting or
dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties
passing between them, in making a covenant (Gen. 15; Jer. 34:18,
The corresponding word in the New Testament Greek is
_diatheke_, which is, however, rendered "testament" generally in
the Authorized Version. It ought to be rendered, just as the
word _berith_ of the Old Testament, "covenant."
This word is used (1) of a covenant or compact between man and
man (Gen. 21:32), or between tribes or nations (1 Sam. 11:1;
Josh. 9:6, 15). In entering into a convenant, Jehovah was
solemnly called on to witness the transaction (Gen. 31:50), and
hence it was called a "covenant of the Lord" (1 Sam. 20:8). The
marriage compact is called "the covenant of God" (Prov. 2:17),
because the marriage was made in God's name. Wicked men are
spoken of as acting as if they had made a "covenant with death"
not to destroy them, or with hell not to devour them (Isa.
(2.) The word is used with reference to God's revelation of
himself in the way of promise or of favour to men. Thus God's
promise to Noah after the Flood is called a covenant (Gen. 9;
Jer. 33:20, "my covenant"). We have an account of God's
covernant with Abraham (Gen. 17, comp. Lev. 26:42), of the
covenant of the priesthood (Num. 25:12, 13; Deut. 33:9; Neh.
13:29), and of the covenant of Sinai (Ex. 34:27, 28; Lev.
26:15), which was afterwards renewed at different times in the
history of Israel (Deut. 29; Josh. 1:24; 2 Chr. 15; 23; 29; 34;
Ezra 10; Neh. 9). In conformity with human custom, God's
covenant is said to be confirmed with an oath (Deut. 4:31; Ps.
89:3), and to be accompanied by a sign (Gen. 9; 17). Hence the
covenant is called God's "counsel," "oath," "promise" (Ps. 89:3,
4; 105:8-11; Heb. 6:13-20; Luke 1:68-75). God's covenant
consists wholly in the bestowal of blessing (Isa. 59:21; Jer.
The term covenant is also used to designate the regular
succession of day and night (Jer. 33:20), the Sabbath (Ex.
31:16), circumcision (Gen. 17:9, 10), and in general any
ordinance of God (Jer. 34:13, 14).
A "covenant of salt" signifies an everlasting covenant, in the
sealing or ratifying of which salt, as an emblem of perpetuity,
is used (Num. 18:19; Lev. 2:13; 2 Chr. 13:5).
COVENANT OF WORKS, the constitution under which Adam was
placed at his creation. In this covenant, (1.) The contracting
parties were (a) God the moral Governor, and (b) Adam, a free
moral agent, and representative of all his natural posterity
(Rom. 5:12-19). (2.) The promise was "life" (Matt. 19:16, 17;
Gal. 3:12). (3.) The condition was perfect obedience to the law,
the test in this case being abstaining from eating the fruit of
the "tree of knowledge," etc. (4.) The penalty was death (Gen.
This covenant is also called a covenant of nature, as made
with man in his natural or unfallen state; a covenant of life,
because "life" was the promise attached to obedience; and a
legal covenant, because it demanded perfect obedience to the
The "tree of life" was the outward sign and seal of that life
which was promised in the covenant, and hence it is usually
called the seal of that covenant.
This covenant is abrogated under the gospel, inasmuch as
Christ has fulfilled all its conditions in behalf of his people,
and now offers salvation on the condition of faith. It is still
in force, however, as it rests on the immutable justice of God,
and is binding on all who have not fled to Christ and accepted
CONVENANT OF GRACE, the eternal plan of redemption entered
into by the three persons of the Godhead, and carried out by
them in its several parts. In it the Father represented the
Godhead in its indivisible sovereignty, and the Son his people
as their surety (John 17:4, 6, 9; Isa. 42:6; Ps. 89:3).
The conditions of this covenant were, (1.) On the part of the
Father (a) all needful preparation to the Son for the
accomplishment of his work (Heb. 10:5; Isa. 42:1-7); (b) support
in the work (Luke 22:43); and (c) a glorious reward in the
exaltation of Christ when his work was done (Phil. 2:6-11), his
investiture with universal dominion (John 5:22; Ps. 110:1), his
having the administration of the covenant committed into his
hands (Matt. 28:18; John 1:12; 17:2; Acts 2:33), and in the
final salvation of all his people (Isa. 35:10; 53:10, 11; Jer.
31:33; Titus 1:2). (2.) On the part of the Son the conditions
were (a) his becoming incarnate (Gal. 4:4, 5); and (b) as the
second Adam his representing all his people, assuming their
place and undertaking all their obligations under the violated
covenant of works; (c) obeying the law (Ps. 40:8; Isa. 42:21;
John 9:4, 5), and (d) suffering its penalty (Isa. 53; 2 Cor.
5:21; Gal. 3:13), in their stead.
Christ, the mediator of, fulfils all its conditions in behalf
of his people, and dispenses to them all its blessings. In Heb.
8:6; 9:15; 12:24, this title is given to Christ. (See DISPENSATION.)
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
COVENANT, remedies. The name of an action instituted for the recovery of
damages for the breach of a covenant or promise under seal. 2 Ld. Raym. 1536
F; N. B. 145 Com. Dig. Pleader, 2 V 2 Id. Covenant, A 1; Bouv. Inst. Index,
2. The subject will be considered with reference, 1. To the kind of
claim or obligation on which this action may be maintained. 2. The form of
the declaration. 3. The plea. 4. The judgment.
3.-1. To support this action, there must be a breach of a promise
under seal. 6 Port. R. 201; 5 Pike, 263; 4 Dana, 381; 6 Miss. R. 29. Such
promise may be contained in a deed-poll, or indenture, or be express or
implied by. law from the terms of the deed; or for the performance of
something in futuro, or that something has been done; or in some cases,
though it relate to something in presenti, as that the covenantor has, a
good title. 2 Saund. 181, b. Though, in general, it is said that covenant
will not lie on a contract inpresenti, as on a covenant to stand seized, or
that a certain horse shall henceforth be the property of another. Plowd.
308; Com. Dig. Covenant, A 1; 1 Chit. PI.. 110. The action of covenant is
the peculiar remedy for the non-performance of a promise under seal, where
the damages are unliquidated, and depend in amount on the opinion of a jury,
in which case neither debt nor assumpsit can be supported but covenant as
well as the action of debt, may be maintained upon a single bill for a sum
certain. When the breach of the covenant amounts to misfeasance, the
covenantee has an election to proceed by action of covenant, or by action on
the case for a tort, as against a lessee, either during his term or
afterwards, for waste; 2 Bl. R. 1111; 2 Bl. R. 848; but this has been
questioned. When the contract under seal has been enlarged by parol, the
substituted agreement will be considered, together with the original
agreement, as a simple contract. 2 Watt's R. 451 1 Chit. Pl. 96; 3 T. R.
4.-2. The declaration must state that the contract was under seal and
it should make proffer of it, or show some excuse for the omission. 3 T. 11.
151. It is not, in general, requisite to state tho consideration of the
defendant's promise, because a contract under seal usually imports a
consideration; but when the performance of the consideration constitutes a
condition precedent, such performance must be averred. So much only of the
deed and covenant should be set forth as is essential to the cause of
action: although it is usual to declare in the words of the deed, each
covenant may be stated as to its legal effect. The breach may be in the
negative of the covenant generally 4 Dall. R. 436; or, according to the
legal effect, and sometimes in the alternative and several breaches may be
assigned at common law. Damages being the object of the suit, should be laid
sufficient to cover the real amount. Vide 3 Serg. & Rawle, 364; 4 Dall. R.
436 2 Yeates' R. 470 3 Serg. & Rawle, 564, 567; 9 Serg. & Rawle, 45.
5.-3. It is said that strictly there is no general issue in this
action, though the plea of non est factum has been said by an intelligent
writer to be the general issue. Steph. Pl. 174. But this plea only puts in
issue the fact of scaling the deed. 1 Chit. Pl. 116. Non infregit
conventionem, and nil debet, have both been held to be insufficient. Com.
Dig. Pleader, 2 V 4. In Pennsylvania, by a practice peculiar to that state,
the defendant may plead covenants and under this. plea, upon notice of the
special matter, in writing, to the plaintiff, without form, he may give
anything in evidence which he might have pleaded. 4 Dall. 439; 2 Yeates,
107; 15 Serg. & Rawle, 105. And this evidence, it seems, may be given in the
circuit courts of the United States in that state without notice, unless
called for 2 W. C. C. R. 4 5 6.
6.-4. The judgment is that the plaintiff recover a named sum for his
damages, which he has sustained by reason of the breach or breaches of
covenant, together with costs.
Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856):
COVENANT, contracts. A covenant, conventio, in its most general
signification, means any kind of promise or contract, whether it be made in
writing or by parol. Hawk. P. C. b. 1, c. 27, Sec. 7, s. 4. In a more
technical sense, and the one in which it is here considered, a covenant is
an agreement between two or more persons, entered into in writing and under
seal, whereby either party stipulates for the truth of certain facts, or
promises to perform or give something to the other, or to abstain from the
performance of certain things. 2 Bl. Com. 303-4; Bac. Ab. Covenant, in pr.;
4 Cruise, 446; Sheppard, Touchs. 160; 1 Harring. 151, 233 1 Bibb, 379; 2
Bibb, 614; 3 John. 44; 20 John. 85; 4 Day, 321.
2. It differs from an express assumpsit in this, that the former may be
verbal, or in writing not under seal, while the latter must always be by
deed. In an assumpsit, a consideration must be shown; in a covenant no
consideration is necessary to give it validity, even in a court of equity.
Plowd. 308; 7 T. R. 447; 4 Barn. & Ald. 652; 3 Bingh. 111.
3. It is proposed to consider first, the general requisites of a
covenant; and secondly, the several kinds of covenants.
4.-1. The general requisites are, 1st. Proper parties. 2d. Words of
agreement. 3d A legal purpose. 4th. A proper form.
5.-1st. The parties must be such as by law can enter into a contract.
If either for want of understanding, as in the case of an idiot or lunatic;
or in the case of an infant, where the contract is not for his benefit; or
where there is understanding, but owing to certain causes, as coverture, in
the case of a married woman, or duress, in every case, the parties are not
competent, they cannot bind themselves. See Parties to Actions.
6.-2d. There must be an agreement. The assent or consent must be
mutual for the agreement would be incomplete if either party withheld his
assent to any of its terms. The assent of the parties to a contract
necessarily supposes a free, fair, serious exercise of the reasoning
faculty. Now, if from any cause, this free assent be not given, the contract
is not binding. See Consent.
7.-3d. A covenant against any positive law, or public policy, is,
generally speaking, void. See Nullity; Shep. Touchs. 163. As an example of
the first, is a covenant by one man that he will rob another; and of the
last, a covenant by a merchant or tradesman that he will not follow his
occupation or calling. This, if it be unlimited, is absolutely void but, if
the covenant be that he shall not pursue his business in a particular place,
as, that he will not trade in the city of Philadelphia, the covenant is no
longer against public policy. See Shep. Touchs. 164. A covenant to do an
impossible thing is also void. Ib.
8.-4th. To make a covenant, it must, according to the definition
above given, be by deed, or under seal. No particular form of words is
necessary to make a covenant, but any words which manifest the intention of
the parties, in respect to the subject matter of the contract, are
sufficient. Sec numerous examples in Bac. Abr. Covenant, A Selw. N. P. 469;
Com. Dig. Covenant, A 2; 3 Johns. R. 44; 5 Munf. 483.
9. In Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Missouri, it is declared by statute
that the words grant, bargain, and sell, shall amount to a covenant that the
grantor was seised of an estate in fee, free from all incumbrances done or
suffered by him, and for quiet enjoyment against his acts. But it has been
adjudged that those words in the Pennsylvania statute of 1715, (and the
decision will equally apply to the statutory language in the other two
states,) did not amount to a general warranty, but merely to a covenant that
the grantor had not done any act, nor created any incumbrance whereby the
estate might be defeated. 2 Bin. 95; 11 S. & R. 111, 112; 4 Kent, Com. 460.
10.-2. The several kinds of covenants. They are, 1. Express or
implied. 1. An express, covenant, or a covenant in fact, is one expressly
agreed between the parties and inserted in the deed. The law does not
require any particular form to create an express covenant. The formal word
"covenant" is therefore not indispensably requisite. 2. Mod. 268; 3 Keb.
848; 1 Leon, 324; 1 Bing. 433; 8 J. B. Moore, 546; 1 Ch. Cas. 294; 16 East,
352; 12 East, 182 n.; 1 Bibb, 379; 2 Bibb 614; 3 John. 44; 5 Cowen, 170; 4
Day, 321 4 Conn. 508; 1 Harring. 233. The words "I oblige;" "agree," 1 Ves.
516; 2 Mod. 266; or, "I bind myself to pay so much such a day, and so much
such another day;" Hardr. 178; 3 Leon. 119, Pl. 199; are held to be
covenants; and so are the word's of a bond. 1 Ch. Cas. 194. But words
importing merely an order or direction that other persons should pay a sum
of money, are not a covenant. 6 J. B. Moore, 202, n. (a.)
11.-1. An implied covenant is one which the law intends and implies,
though it be not expressed in words. 1 Common Bench Rep. 402; co. Lit. 139,
b; Vaughan's Rep. 118; Rawle on Covenants, 364. There are some words which
of themselves do not import an express covenant, yet being made use of in
certain contracts, have a similar operation and are called covenants in law.
They are as effectually binding on the parties as if expressed in the most
unequivocal terms. Bac. Ab. Covenant, B. A few examples will fully explain
this. If a lessor demise and grant to his lessee a house or lands for a
certain term, the law will imply a covenant on the part of the lessor, that
the lessee shall during the term quietly enjoy the same against all
incumbrances. Co. Litt. 384. When in a lease the words "grant," 1 Mod. 113
Freem. 367; Cro. Eliz. 214; 4 Taunt. 609; "grant and demise," 4 Wend. 502;
"demise," 10 Mod. 162; 4 Co. 80; Hob. 12; or "demiserunt," I Show. 79 1
Salk. 137, are used, they are so many instances of implied covenants. And
the words "yielding and paying" in a lease, imply a covenant on the part of
lessee, that he will pay the rent. 9 Verm. 151; 3 Penn. 461, 464.
12.-2. Real and personal. 1st. A real covenant is one which has for
its object something annexed to, or inherent in, or connected with land or
other property. Co Litt. 334; enk 241; Cruise, Dig. tit. 32, c. 25, s. 22;
Platt. on Cov. 60, 61; 2 Bl. Com. 304. A covenant real, which necessarily
runs with the land, as to pay rent, not to cut timber, and the like, is said
to be an inherent covenant. Shep. To. 161. A covenant real runs with the
land and descends to the heir; it is also transferred to a purchaser. Such
covenants are said to run with the land, so that he who has the one is
subject to the other. Bac. Ab. Covenants, E 2. See 2 Penn. 507; 10 Wend 180;
12 Mass. 306; 17 Mass. 586; 5 Cowen, 137; 5 Ham. 156; 5 Conn. 497; 1 Wash.
C. C. 375; 8 Cowen 206; 1 Dall. 210; 11 Shep. 283; 6 Met. 139; 3 Mete. 81; 3
Harring. 338; 17 Wend. 136.
13.-2. As commonly reckoned, there are five covenants for title, viz:
1. Covenant for seisin. 2. That the grantor has perfect right to convey. 3.
That the grantee shall quietly possess and enjoy the premises without
interruption, called a covenant for quiet enjoyment. 4. The covenant against
incumbrances. 5. The covenant for further assurance. 6. Besides these
covenants, there is another frequently resorted to in the United States,
which is relied on more, perhaps, than any other, called the covenant of
warranty. See Rawle on Covenants for Title, where the import and effect of
these covenants are elaborately and luminously discussed.
14.-3. A personal covenant relates only to matters personal, as
distinguished from real, and is binding on the covenantor during life, and
on his personal representatives after his decease, in respect of his assets.
According to Sir William Blackstone, a personal covenant may be transformed
into a real, by the mere circumstance of the heirs being named therein, and
having assets by descent from the covenantor. 2 Bl. Com 304. A covenant is
personal in another sense, where the covenantor is bound to fulfill the
covenant himself; as, to teach an apprentice. F.N.B. 340, A.
15. Personal covenants are also said to be transitive and intransitive;
the former, when the duty of performing them passes to the covenantor's
representatives; the latter, when it is limited to himself; as, in the case
of teaching an apprentice. Bac. Ab. h.t.
16. As they affect each other in the same deed, covenants may be divided
into three classes. 1st. Dependent covenants are those in which the
performance, of one depends on the performance of the other; there may be
conditions which must be performed before the other party is liable to an
action on his covenant. 8 S. & R. 268; 4 Conn. 3; 1 Blackf. 175; John. 209;
2 Stew. & Port. 60; 6 Cowen 296; 3 Ala. R. 330; 3 Pike 581; 2 W. & S. 227; 5
Shep. 232; 11 Verm. 549; 4 W. C. C. 714; Platt on Cov. 71; 2 Dougl. 689;
Lofft, 191; 2 Selw. N. P. 443, 444. To ascertain whether covenants are
dependent or not, the intention of the parties is to be sought for and
regarded rather than the order or time in which the acts are to be done, or
the structure of the instrument, or the arrangements of the covenant. 4
Wash. C. C. 714; 1 Root, 170; 4 Rand. 352; 4 Rawle, 26; 5 Wend. 496; 2 John.
145; 13 Mass. 410; 2 W. & S. 227; 4 W. & S. 527; Willis, 157; 7 T. R. 130; 8
T.R. 366; 5 B. & P. 223; 1 Saund. 320 n.
17.-2d. Some covenants are mutual conditions to be performed at the
same time; these are concurrent covenants. When, in these cases, one party
is ready and offers to perform his part, and the other refuses or neglects to
perform his, he who is ready and offers, has fulfilled his engagement, and
may maintain an action for the default of the other, though it is not
certain that either is obliged to do the first act. 4 Wash. C. C. 714;
Dougl. 698; 2 Selw. N. P. 443; Platt. on Cov. 71.
18.-3d. Covenants are independent or mutual, when either party may
recover damages from the other for the injury he may have received by a
breach of the covenants in his favor, and when it is no excuse for the
defendant to allege a breach of the covenants on the part of the plaintiff.
2 Wash. C. C. R. 456; 5 Shepl. 372; 4 Leigh, 21; 3 Watts & S. 300; 13 Mass.
410; 2 Pick. 300; 2 John. 145; 10 John. 203; Minor 21; 2 Bibb, 15; 3 Stew.
361; 1 Fairf. 49; 6 Binn. 166; 2 Marsh. 429; 7 John. 249; 5 Wend. 496; 3
Miss. 329; 2 Har. & J. 467; 4 Har. & J. 285; 2 Marsh. 429; 4 Conn. 3.
19. Covenants are affirmative and negative. 1st. An affirmative covenant
is one by which the covenantor binds himself that something has already been
done or shall be performed hereafter. Such a covenant will not deprive a
man of a right lawfully enjoyed by him independently of the covenant; 5 as,
if the lessor agreed with the lessee that he shall have thorns for hedges
growing upon the land, by assignment of the lessor's bailiff; here no
restraint is imposed upon the exercise of that liberty which the law allows
to the lessee, and therefore he may take hedge-bote without assignment. Dy.
19 b, pl. 115; 1 Leon, 251.
20.-2d. A negative covenant is one where the party binds himself that
he has not performed and will not perform a certain act; as, that he will
not encumber. Such a covenant cannot be said to be performed until it
becomes impossible to break it. On this ground the courts are unwilling to
construe a covenant of this kind to be a condition precedent. Therefore,
where a tailor assigned his trade to the defendant, and covenanted
thenceforth to desist from carrying on the said business with any of the
customers, and the defendant in consideration of the performance thereof,
covenanted to pay him a life annuity of 190, it was held that if the words
"in consideration of the performance thereof," should be deemed to amount to
a condition precedent, the plaintiff would never obtain his annuity; because
as at anytime during his life he might exercise his former trade, until his
death it could never be ascertained whether he had performed the covenant or
not. 2 Saund. 156; 1 Sid. 464; 1 Mod. 64; 2 Keb. 674. The defendant,
however, on a breach by plaintiff, might have his remedy by a cross action of
covenant. There is also a difference between a negative covenant, which is
only in affirmance of an affirmative covenant precedent, and a negative
covenant which is additional to the affirmative covenant. 1 Sid. 87; 1 Keb.
334, 372. To a covenant of the former class a plea of performance generally
is good, but not to the latter; the defendant in that case must plead
21. Covenants, considered with regard to the parties who are to perform
them, are joint or several.
1st. A joint covenant is one by which several parties agree to perform
or do a thing together. In this case although there are several covenantors
there is but one contract, and if the covenant be broken, all the
covenantors living, must be sued; as there is not a separate obligation of
each, they cannot be sued separately.
22.-2d. A several covenant is one entered into by one person only. It
frequently happens that a number of persons enter into the same contract,
and that each binds himself to perform the whole of it; in such case, when
the Contract is under seal, the covenantors are severally bound for the
performance of it. The terms usually employed to make a several covenant are
"severally," or "each of us." In practice, it is common for the parties to
bind themselves jointly and severally, and then the covenant is both joint
and several. Vide Hamm. on Parties 19; Cruise, Dig. tit. 32, c. 25, s. 18;
Bac. Ab. Covenant D.
23. Covenants are executed or executory.
1st. An executed covenant is one which relates to an act already
performed. Shep. To. 161.
24.-2d. An executory covenant is one to be performed at a future time.
Shep. To. 161.
25. Covenants are obligatory or declaratory.
1st. An obligatory covenant is one which is binding on the party
himself, and shall never be construed to raise a use. 1 Sid. 27; 1 Keb. 334.
26.-2d. A declaratory covenant is one which serves to limit and direct
uses. 1 Sid. 27; 1 Heb. 334.
27. Covenants are principal and auxiliary.
1st. A principal covenant is one which relates directly to the principal
matter of the contract entered into between the parties; as, if A covenants
to serve B for one year.
28.-2d. An auxiliary covenant is one, which, not relating directly to
the principal matter of the contract between the parties, yet relates to
something connected with it; as, if A covenants with B, that C will perform
his covenant to serve him for one year. In this case, if the principal
covenant is void, the auxiliary is discharged. Anstr. 256.
29. Covenants are legal or illegal. 1st. A legal covenant is one not
forbidden by law. Covenants of this kind are always binding on the parties.
30.-2d. An illegal covenant is one forbidden by law, either expressly
or by implication. A covenant entered into, in violation of, the express
provision of a statute is absolutely void. 5 Har. & J. 193; 5 N. H. Rep. 96;
6 N. H. Rep. 225; 4 Dall. 298; 6 Binn. 321; 4 S.& R. 159; 1 Binn. 118; 4
Halst. 252. A covenant is also void, if it be of immoral nature; as, a
covenant for future illicit intercourse and cohabitation; 3 Monr. 35; 3
Burr. 1568; S. C. 1 Bl. Rep. 517; 1 Esp. 13; 1 B. P. 340; or against public
policy; 5 Mass. 385; 7 Greenl. 113; 4 Mass. 370; 5 Halst. 87; 4 Wash. C. C.
297; 11 Wheat. 258; 3 Day, 145; 2 McLean, 464; 7 Watts, 152; 5 Watts & S.
315; 5 How. Miss. 769; Geo. Decis. part 1, 39 in restraint of trade, when
the restraint is general; 21 Wend. 166; 19 Pick. 51; 6 Pick. 206; 7 Cowen,
307; or fraudulent between the parties; 5 Mass. 16; 4 S. & R. 488; 4 Dall.
250; 7 W. & S. 111; or third persons; 3 Day, 450; 14 S. & R. 214; 3 Caines,
213; 15 Pick. 49; 2 John. 286 12 John. 306.
31. Covenants, in the disjunctive or alternative, are those which give
the covenantor the choice of doing, or the covenantee the choice of having,
performed one of two or more things at his election; as, a covenant to make
a lease to Titus, or pay him one hundred dollars on the fourth day of July,
as the covenantor, or the covenantee, as the case may be, shall prefer.
Platt on Cov. 21.
32. Collateral covenants are such as concern some collateral thing,
which does not at all, or not so immediately relate to the thing granted;
as, to pay a sum of money in gross, that the lessor shall distrain for rent,
on some other land than that which is demised, or the like. Touchs. 161; 4
Burr. 2446; 2 Wils. R. 27; 1 Ves. R. 56. These covenants are also termed
covenants in gross. Vide 5 Barn. & Ald. 7, 8; Platt on Cov. 69, 70.