Henry Rolfe

NOTES: Henry Rolfe's father (John Rolfe, b. ca. 1650) was the brother of Honor Rolfe's maternal grandfather (believe it or not), as Honor's mother Agnes also married a Rolfe (Richard, b. ca. 1567) who may or may not have been directly related to her.
     Henry and family are said to have emigrated to New England with Henry's brother John and a sister, though apparently not on the very same ship.  John and family (described differently in two published transcriptions I'm looking at presently) sailed on the Confidence in 1638.  There is no mention of Henry in either of the transcriptions; presumably he and his family came earlier, since son Benjamin was born on this side in that year.  Henry is listed as owning land in Newbury in 1642.
     Through the kindness of distant cousin Jonathan Rolfe, descendant of Henry's brother John, I have two more transcriptions for the Confidence voyage of 1638, indicating that John (aged 50) sailed with his wife "Ann" and their daughter Hester, plus an 18-year-old servant named Whittle or Thomas Wittle.  The ship sailed from Southampton on April 24, 1638, arriving in Boston, under Master John Gibson (or Jobson), carrying 200 tons.
     Another distant cousin, Marie Thurman-Vann, adds interesting side-notes to this story.  She points out  that servant Thomas Wittle is part of a long-standing family relationship with the Rolfes.  Honor Rolfe's great grandfather Henry Rolfe, in his 1558 will, leaves items to "Alis Whytehere, my servant," while her husband's father, John Rolfe, in his 1625 will, leaves money to "Richard Whiteer," who was actually married to Mary Rolfe, sister of the Henry and John in this generation.  (Marrying a servant was not at all uncommon in Shakespeare's time, and of course did not alter Thomas Wittle's servant status, who--according to Marie--was the son of Richard and Mary and thus servant to his own uncle.  The coincidence of the same servant family on both sides of the Henry-Honor marriage confirms that their two Rolfe lines are fairly closely related.)  Marie continues:  "Thomas [Wittle]'s descendant was John Greenleaf Whittier, who wrote a poem ["Pentucket"] about his kinsman, Samuel Rolfe, who went to Harvard and became a minister and was killed with an axe thrown to his head standing in front of his home in Massachusetts."  (According to Whittier's own notes on the poem, it was Benjamin Rolfe, and he was killed by a shot through his front door.)