Friday, November 16, 2012


We're now nearly at the end of the testimony in the case against Henry
Greenland 's advances to the married Mary Rolfe. One of the things I've
wondered about reading the published transactions is whether the order
of the depositions are printed in the exact chronological order they
were given. It would seem so in this case, since in this next deposition
John Emery's wife refers to her daughter's earlier testimony:

Hana (her mark) Noic, aged about twenty years, deposed that Goody Emerie said
that she never saw any evil carriage between Mr. Grenland and Goody Roff.
Further that Mr. Grenland was a traveler and a stranger and one who was very
politic and no fool, and that she loved the woman as her own child and would
not do her harm for her hand, etc. She further deposed that Goody Emerie
accused her daughter, Betie Webster, of taking a false oath before the magistrate
and Betie answered that she had said nothing but what she would stand to.
Then her mother told her she lied and had taken her oath to a paper that she
had heard read but once. "Betie said I never said so: nor never took oth to
Nothing but the truth and that I will stand to the death." Deponent's mother
and herself being together at Goody Rof's, they saw the maid Bete Webster
much troubled and crying. "My mother asked her why she was troubled she
Answered my mother is such a trouble to me I cannot Eate nor sleep My
mother ansur was if you have spoken nothing but the truth what need you be
troubled." Mary Noyes also testified to the same. Sworn in court.

Barbri (her mark) Elsly, aged about fifty years, deposed that being at the new
town where Betie Webster was, she asked her if it were true that the doctor
was in Goody Roff's house, and she said it was. Deponent said, "0 Lasse why
did you let him in at dore: she answered that he did so Fumbel at the dore she
thought he would have broke it open: but she said would we had Lett him haue
broke it open for then it is said he would have bin hanged: I said I wished thay
had not let him in thoug: she said that he desired but to light a pipe of tobaco
and vowed he would not touch them so she said she let him in: I said did not
you nor goody Roffe se him put of his Clothes before he Cam in to bed: she
answered no for she was unreking the fier fore she said she had newly Raked it
up and thought Mr Grenland had stood behind hir: and she said goody Roffe was
a bed feeding her child with her bac towards the fier . . . betie said goody Rofe
was so afrighted that she fell into a greevios fitt: then beti said sir what haue you
don you have put the woman in to a fitt that she fered whether she would be
well to night: and she said he made answer the Devell had such fitts or sent such
fitts and it was nothing but a mad fitt. then I asked betie whether he did not give
her som Comfortabl thing in hir fitt: and she said no no kind of thing but Railed at
hir: betee said when Goody Rofe was Recovred then goody Rofe said sir who haue
giuen the ofenc or what ofenc haue I given that you should speke such words: then
betie tould me that as soon as he se she Could speke he went in to bed again: then
I asked why goody Rofe did not Crie out: Crie out said betie she did Cri out and said
lord help me what shall I do he will . . . and she said upon the out Crie or hering the
out Crie he Cam in and then I hope her up: morour I said to betie dost thinke she
. . . well then said I am perswaded goody Rofe is an honest woman and so am I said
betie," etc. Sworn in court.

All of these depositions starting with Part 2 of this series of blogposts are from
pp47-55 of Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, 
Massachusetts Vol3 (Essex Institute 1913).

Looking back on all this, we have the rambunctious Henry Greenland  apparently
taking liberties with both Mary Rolfe and  Elizabeth Webster. John Emery, who
had promised Mary's husband he'd watch over her, seemed to feel it wasn't a
serious matter and in fact ignored his duty as a grand juryman by not reporting
Greenland to the authorities. Mary Rolfe herself doesn't want to report it either,
claiming she doesn't want to see Greenland hung, but I had to wonder if it was
more to protect her own reputation. After all, this was the society Hawthorne
wrote about in "The Scarlet Letter."

Indeed, it did all come out. Greenland was charged with soliciting Mary
Rolfe to adultery and was found guilty.  John Emery was probably dismissed
from the grand jury.  But there was still more repercussions.

John Rolfe, Mary's husband, came home.

To be continued,...

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