Saturday, September 26, 2009


The latest chapter in the series of court battles between Edward Berry and
the Haskell family was about to conclude. But first, as in many dramas,
there was a look back at the past and some revelations.

The first involved the whereabouts of Roger Haskell's minor children even
before William Haskell was appointed their guardian:

"William Haskell, aged about fifty-eight years, and Mark Haskell, aged
twenty-six years, testified that seven years before the estate willed to the
children of Rodger Haskell was sued for by the guardian, Josiah had been
gone from Edward Bery seven years, Rodger five years and Samuell and
Sarah about one year and a half. The reason why they went from Bery was
because he would not bring them up as their mother by their father's will
was to do. Sworn in court."

So even though he wasn't yet their legal it's probable the children were already
living with William.

Next came testimony that harkened all the way back to the lawsuit between
Elizabeth (Hardy) Berry and Nicholas Woodbury:

"William Hascol, aged about fifty-eight years, and Samuel Gardner, aged
about forty-eight years, testified that upon the trial between Edward Berrey
and Nicholas Woodberry of Sallem, of an action of the title of four score
acres of land lying near Wenham Pond, they heard Elizabeth Berrey say in
open court that when her husband Rogger Hascol gave the abovesaid land
to his sons John and William Hascol, that he had her will and consent and
was also willing that Nicholas Woodbery should enjoy the land. Sworn in

But no mention seems to have been made of Elizabeth Berry's recantation of
that testimony. Wouldn't Edward Berry have mentioned it in rebuttal?

Finally, even though he wasn't able to bring up the Haskell children as their
father's will ordered, Berry still managed somehow to profit from the Haskell
estate while he still controlled it:

"William Dodg, jr., aged about thirty years, and William Dodg, 3d, aged about
thirty years, deposed that Edward Berry leased out the land and cattle that were
willed to the children to John Knight, sr., for less than half their worth and gave
him liberty to use timber and wood which he did to the amount of 10li., besides
about 12li. in cattle, etc. Sworn in court.

Mark Haskell, aged about twenty-six years, and William Dodg, 3d, aged about
thirty years, deposed that Edward Bery had 33li. out of the children's father's
estate for payment of debts, and also that before deponent's uncle William Haskel
was appointed guardian, said Berry sent word to said uncle by deponent that he
could not keep the children of Rodger Hascol any longer and for him to take
away deponent's brother Josiah. Sworn in court."

If the goal of this lawsuit for Edward Berry was some sort of financial compensation
he was unsuccessful. The court ruled in favor of William Haskell. Perhaps the fact
that he'd willingly gave up the children after profiting off their inheritance worked
against him.
So that is where the online transcriptions of the lawsuits over the Haskell inheritance
ends; perhaps there was another agreement made outside of court. Edward Berry's
death in 1682 would have of course brought an end to all of his disputes with the
Haskell family. It's easy to conclude that he was the "evil stepfather" but then again,
Elizabeth Berry's testimony about her former brother-in-law William Haskell hardly
puts him in a favorable light.

So who, if anyone, was the villain here?

While this might be all I could find about the Haskell cases, I did find other records
of an Edward Berry that might be the same person. If so, they give a clearer
picture of his character.

I'll post those next, but this concludes the Haskell Inheritance story.


Apple said...

An interesting series. The way the courts worked back then seem very different but then again we live in a sue happy society now. My maiden name is Berry and I've often searched Barry but not Berrey. I need to get more creative in my searches! This is not my line but Edward may be in my brother-in-law's tree so I will pass the links on to him.

Heather Rojo said...

Thanks for posting this series of stories about the Haskells. I'm also a Haskell descendant:

Gen. 1. William Haskell and Elinor Foule

Gen. 2. William Haskell and Mary Tybott

Gen. 3. Mark Haskell and Elizabeth Giddings

Gen. 4. Mark Haskell and Martha Tuthill

Gen. 5. Lucy Haskell and Jabez Treadwell.

This is where my Haskell's daughter out, but through the Treadwells and beyond this line stayed in Ipswich until my mother was born there!

Bill West said...

Hi Heather:
One of my Haskell lines follows yours until Gen 5.

Gen 5 Martha Haskell and John Safford

Gen 6 Ruth Safford and Samuel Haskell

Gen 7 Martha Haskell and Moses Houghton

and then down from Houghton to Dunham to Ellingwood to West.

Samuel Haskell was descended from William Haskell, the "Uncle William" of the series.