Monday, September 28, 2009


When I first discovered the case files for the legal battle between the Haskell
family and Edward Berry, I checked to see if he were involved in any other
cases. I searched for both the names "Edward" and "Edmond" since he was
referred to under both names in the Haskell cases, and I came up with a
case involving an Edward Berry and his wife Betteris(Beatrice). I took a
quick scan of it and bookmarked it for later use. Then I found a follow-up
to that case and it raised a few interesting questions in my mind about "my"
Edward Berry and his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth Hardy.

Let's start with the first case, which was presented at Salem in July of 1676:

"Edward Berry and Betteris his wife, presented for not living
together as man and wife, were ordered to live together according
to God's ordinance within one fortnight upon penalty of 5li. fine.*

Betterice Berry's petition, concerning not living with her husband
Edmond Berry: "I can proue by Testimony verbally & also by writing
under his hand ye conditionall covent made Between us before or marriage,
ye wch Covent at ye Tyme of or marriage was acknowledged before ye
honored Major Hathorne; & likewise I can make proofe by John Glouer
whom he employed to come to me as a Friend to speake in his behalf; that
ye sd Edm. Berry desired nothing of my estate he desired nothing but my
person; but alas how he carried it to me afterwards I know ye Towne &
Country hath rung of it, & that it cannot otherwise be but yor worships must
of necessity haue heard of his base, brutish & Inhumane carriage to me being
truly such as was Impossible for any poore woman specially a woman of my
Age to liue with such a person & this I can bring proof of to ye honord Court'
that he did tell Jne Glouer that if I would not giue up ye writings that were
made between us he would make me weary of my life & so indeed I found it;
& so at Length with his consent we parted; & now I haue declared myself as
breifly as I could; & doe desire to ly at ye mercy of ye court, for what euer
I suffer I am not able to liue with such a Tyrant."

Christopher Waller, aged about fifty-seven years, deposed that having been in
discourse with Goodman Plummer, the former husband of Betterice Berry, he
told deponent that he lived as comfortably with her as a man could desire and
if he had sought all the world over he could not have had a better wife.
Deponent also knew that she lived comfortably with both husbands, but he heard
Edmond Berry say to her that she should never live a quiet hour with him unless
she burned the writings, etc. Sworn in court.

Elizabeth Price, aged about sixty years, and Elizabeth White, aged
about seventy years, testified that being at the house of Edward Berry
and being sensible of Goodwife Berry's want of help and conveniences,
they asked him whether he were willing that she should leave him and
go elsewhere. He replied yes, with all his heart."
-Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts
Vol VI 1675-1678 (pp194-195)

A little further research showed that Beatrice had been married and widowed
twice before she married Edward/Edmond Berry. When her first husband
William Cantlebury died, he left her in control of his estate, and when she
married her second husband he signed what sounds like a colonial pre-nuptial
agreement that let her retain control of what her first husband left her in his will.

Edward/Edmond Berry had signed a similar document before the marriage
but then changed his mind and now wanted Beatrice to destroy all the
papers, at which point she had left him, supposedly with his consent.
But now the Court ordered them to resume their relationship as
husband and wife. Failure to do so would cost them 5 pounds each,
so reluctantly Beatrice agreed.

Could this be the same Edward Berry who had fought the Haskells over
both the inheritance of his wife and that of the children of Roger Haskell?
If so, his subsequent behavior towards Beatrice might shed some light on
Elizabeth Berry's behavior.

To be continued...

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