Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Before the holidays I left off my examination of my ancestor John Emery
and the scandalous events involving his family, their neighbor Mary Rolfe,
and the amorous Richard Greenland. At that point I had gotten as far as the
return of Mary's husband John from Martha's Vineyard and his hiring a
lawyer to sue Richard Greenland. The case was brought to court in Ipswich,
Massachusetts in September of 1663:

"John Roffe v. Mr. Henry Greenland. For coming into the house of said Roffe
in the night season, Roffe being not at home and attempting his wife's
chastity in a foul manner. 

John Rof's bill of cost, 1li. 15s. 11d.

Writ, dated June 26, 1663, signed by Anthony Somerby, for the court, and
served by Steven Grenleff, constable."

Next came a statement from the selectmen of Newbury about what they
had learned about the situation after being goaded into action by Goody
Bishop. While much of it is information given in previous testimony,
there;s a few new nuggets:

"John Bishop's wife comeing unto us being selectmen by way of complaint
against one mr Greeneland, a phisition which is newly come into our Towne,
for offering violent and uncivell cariage unto hir daughter mary Roffe the
wife of John Roffe, which is gone vnto nantuckett, and we haveing examined
 the woman we find from her testimony, that this mr Greenland have offered
grosse and shamfull abuse vnto her, The first time the woman being at John
Emeryes house where this man soiornes, had ocation to lay hir on the bed to
sleepe and lay downe by it; this Mr. Greenland came up into the chamber and
offered to abuse hir there.

"The second time this man came unto his house and used many arguments to
hir tending to wickedness, first that he would have hir goe with him to nevis,
or Jemeco, or some other place, and that it was free that men might have many
wives, she answered then shee should sinn ags' God, and abuse hir husband &
hir selfe and his wife, he answered he had meanes enough, he could maintain
them both, another time being att John Emeryes house, and when she was to
come home she was afraide he would come after hir, and as she thought slipt
out of the house, and he came after hir, and overtooke hir & would goe home
with hir, and then she could not gett him away, although she spoke to him and
then she spake vnto hir uncle liveing in the house that he would not goe to bed
before he was gone, and would not warme his bed, the ould man eayd it was
time for all to goe to bed, he sayd he would stay till the morning but the ould
man should be a bed before he would goe, but by much pswading he did,
another time worse than the former, mr Greeneland came to her house, late
in the night and knocked at the window, shee being in feare mad noe answere
along time he continued calling bettye bettye, and desired her to lett him come
in and asked why she would let him stand there and starve with could, she
answered they weare abed and would not lett him in, and weare afraide of him,
then he still earnestly desired hir wishing great wishes upon himselfe that he
would doe them noe hirt, but desired to smoke a pipe of tobacco; soe she lett
him in (this bettye is John Emeryes wives daughter which keepes with John
Roffes wife), soe goody Roffe being in hir bed spoke to the mayd to make a
fire to give some light, and while the mayd was makeing of a fire . . . she
swounded away, and as the mayd saide was dead & very could, and gave hir
some strong liquours to comfort hir.

"att last, she came to hir selfe againe ... he bid hir lye still for there was one
without knocked at the dore and now there would be two witnesses, and now
 we shall be tryed for our lives . . . but the youth that was at the dore, came in
... and sayd he heard mr Greenlands tongue before he came in while he was
at the dore." Mary Roffe and Elizabeth Webster testified to the foregoing,
Jan. 24, 1662, before Daniell Denison. Copy made, Sept. 25, 1663, by Robert
Lord, cleric."

- Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts
, Volume 3 (Google eBook) Essex Institute, 1913 p88-90

I'm still bemused with the image of Richard Greenland knocking at a married
woman's window begging to be let in so he could "light his pipe". But Richard
Greenland seems to have been a smooth talker, even though he failed to tempt
Mary to run  off the Caribbean  islands of "nevis,  or Jemeco".

Whether Mary told her husband  all that had transpired in his absence, or he
heard the details from the selectmen or Goody Bishop, I don't know. But  one
way or another, he took action:

"John Rolfe, jr., of Newbury, on June 20, 1663, appointed Hugh March of 
Newbury his attorney to prosecute against Mr. Henry Greenland and John 
Emery, sr. Wit: Henry Jaques and Richard Dole."

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