Monday, September 14, 2009


Elizabeth Hardy Berry had testified already that she had given her deceased husband
Roger Haskell all her rights over the land she'd inherited from her mother, Elizabeth
Hardy. Then suddenly she submitted a petition to the Court which contradicted her
previous statement:

"Petition of Elizabeth, wife of Edward Berry: "I had disposed my mind to my husband
that now Is Conserninge the sute of law he had with mr Nicholas Woodbury about the
land which my mother gaue to me which is my Reight I thoft I should haue Noe busines
theare at Court But my Brother In law William Haskoll found me out and perswaded me
with these words, will you giue away your Estate to such a Husband that saith you are a
baud And such like prouokations If he Recouer the Land he will sell It & make a bag of
mony and shew you a Leight pare of heels whare uppon I went to the Court when I Came
thare Maior dinison sayed to me, Come good woman you gaue Consent to your husbands
will did you not, In my fury I did say It Sir: But I haue Considered since I haue don my
selfe great wrong in spekeinge that word which was not truth for I doe protest before god
that I neuer gaue free consent to Roger Haskolls will which was my former Husband. This
man Haskel after his brother Roger was dead the Court was a fortnight after or thereabout,
the sd Haskell Remeaned with me most of the tyme night and day using many arguments
& prouocations with me to haue me goe to that Court to haue the will proued when I was
very full of trouble, knew not what I did being so short a tyme I did I knew not yt but
did by his Aduise." Sworn before Wm. Hathorne, assistant."

In other words, Elizabeth Berry said her previous statement was a lie, brought about by
the wheedling of her former brother-in-law William Haskell and the questioning of Major
Denison. This must have caused a bit of disapproval from the Court and the onlookers
alike. By recanting her previous words, she not only repudiated William Haskell, she did
the same to her own son John who'd taken part if the sale to Nicholas Woodbury. And there
may have been doubts as to the veracity of her new version of events. Could Edward Berry
have forced his wife into changing her story?

Two more witnesses were heard from:

"Edeth Herick, aged about sixty years, deposed that she often heard her father Hugh
say that William Haskoll was half purchaser with his brother Roger Haskoll
in the farm
which her father sold them and that said William possessed and enjoyed
the same some
tune before my father went away, which is about twenty-five years.
Sworn in court.

John Grover, aged about forty-five years, deposed that William Haskoll, sr., kept the
about seven years until such time as he went away, and then Goodman Herrick
came in
upon his right. Sworn in court."

"Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts
Vol 5 1672-74" pp111-112. (Nov 1672)

So the Court had heard several witnesses state they had knowledge Roger Haskell
and the late Elizabeth Hardy had been partners in the purchase of Mr. Gafford's
land which was then sold to Nicholas Woodbury by William and John Haskell. And
despite Elizabeth Berry changing her story about giving over her rights, she didn't
change the part about how her mother and husband had been equal partners in
purchasing the Gafford land.

The Court ruled in favor of Nicholas Woodbury and the transaction was upheld.
I've yet to find a record as to whether Elizabeth Berry was ever punished for lying
in court. Perhaps the members of the jury took pity on her.

Perhaps they felt marriage to Edward Berry was punishment enough?

At any rate, the Haskells and the Berrys would be back in court three years later
in the first of several lawsuits concerning the children of Roger Haskell.

To be continued.


Janet Iles said...

This is an intriguing story. You are fortunate that you have found this information.

I like how you are presenting it in installments. Just like the end of a chapter in a good book, you have the reader wanting to find out what happens next.

Bill West said...

Glad you're enjoying it, Janet!