all of our family histories are happy. In fact, the Bassett story is downright
The name "Bassett" is English: from the
Old French term 'basset', a diminutive of basse (low, short),
which could either be a nickname for a short person or a status name for someone
of humble origins. The Coat of Arms features three red wavy bars on a gold shield.
The Crest displays a Unicorn's head. The family motto, "Pro rege et populo,"
translates as "For King and people."
was first found in the county of Glamorgan, Wales, where they had been granted
lands by King William after the Norman Conquest in 1066.
lineage to this family can be traced back to ROGER BASSETT, born at the beginning
of the 1600's. On the 27th of April in 1623, Roger married ANN
HOLLAND, at St. Martin's Church in Dorking, Surrey, England. Beyond this,
all we know of Roger is that he died some time before 1635 in Dorking, Surrey,
England, leaving a wife and son.
That son, WILLIAM BASSETT,
was born in 1624 in Dorking, Surrey, England, and was baptized there on the 30th
of May, 1624. At some point after that his father died, and William then emigrated
to America in 1635, aboard the Abigail, with Robert Hackwell, master, sailing
from London in mid-July. William was nine years old. His name appears with the
Burt family on the ship's manifest, however, leading some
to conclude that William's mother married Hugh Burt after the death of her first
husband, and that she and her second husband brought William with them to New
William was definitely given enough education to
read & write. He signed not only his own will, but that of Hugh Alley in 1673.
His inventory also included books. And as an adult, he became a Husbandman.
was elected Sergeant in the Lynn, Essex co., militia by 20 October 1675, and served
at that rank in Captain Joseph Gardener's company on the expedition against the
Narragansett from December 1675-February 1676, during King Philip's War.
company fought first in The Great Swamp Fight. While the overall battle was an
unexpected success for the English, they lost many officers in the fightthree
Captains, several Lieutenants and many other officers. One was Captain Gardener,
who fell, mortally wounded, nearly at the feet of Captain Benjamin Church.
of these experiences, William Bassett, Sr. stayed in the militia. By 29 June 1682,
he had been promoted to Quartermaster. He had been elected Ensign by the time
he served on an Essex Grand Jury on 28 November 1682. During the King William's
Warotherwise known as the War of the Grand Alliance of England & Spain
against Franceit is generally accepted that he was the "Captain William
Bassett" who accompanied now Major Benjamin Church to a council of war at
Scarborough, ME on 11 November 1689.
William took the Oath
of Fidelity in 1677/1678 and the Oath of Freeman on 18 April 1691.
served on the Essex grand jury on 28 November 1671, 25 June 1672, 28 November
1682, 25 November 1684 and 30 June 1685 and performed similar service on the Petit
jury on 24 June 1662, 29 November 1664, 24 November 1668, 28 June 1670, 30 November
1675, 25 June 1678 and 28 November 1682. Finally, he served on the Coroner's jury
on 4 December 1680.
William was also named as selectman in
June 1673, June 1674, June 1675, September 1677, November 1678, June 1679, November
1679 and June 1681, served as Constable in June 1666 and on a committee to
lay out a cartway in June of 1678.
Beyond the public eye,
William was also a trusted neighbor. He was named overseer of Christopher Linsy's
will on 9 April 1669. In addition, William was part of a group of 12 men who "...petitioned
against their neighbor John Hawthorne for serving too much strong drink despite
the 'advice of his friends to the contrary'..." This John Hawthorne or a
near relative with the same name was later a judge at the Salem Trials which so
plagued the Bassett family.
Although he was too young to
have received any land in the Lynn, Essex co., MA land grants during the early
history of the town, William did a fair amount of real estate transactions. On
1 June 1660, William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman, with the consent of Sarah his
"now wife," sold to Andrew Mansfield, husbandman, 3 acres of meadow
in Lynn, Essex co., MA.
In the 7 October 1661 will of his
stepfather, Hugh Burt, "my son Will[iam] Bassitt" received 2 acres of
salt marsh, 5 acres of upland, and "my wearing apparel."
1647 when William was 23, he married SARAH [surname not knownpossibly BURT],
in Lynn, Essex co., MA. On 23 February 1664/5, William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman,
and Sarah his wife sold to Allen Bread of Lynn, husbandman, 2 acres of salt marsh
in Rumney Marsh, Suffolk co., MA. On 29 October 1667, Edward Richards of Lynn,
joiner, and Ann his wife sold to William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman, 12 acres
of land, presumably in Lynn, Essex co., MA. On 15 April 1675, Benjamin Chadwell
of Lynn, husbandman, with the consent of Elizabeth his wife, sold to William Bassett
of Lynn, husbandman, 8 acres of salt marsh in Rumney Marsh, Suffolk co., MA. On
28 June 1680, Thomas Wheeler of Stonington, yeoman, sold to William Bassett, Sr.
of Lynn, yeoman, 9 acres of fresh marsh, location unknown.
4 June 1685, the General Court answered a petition by William Bassett and others
of Lynn, Reading, Beverly and Hingham, by granting a tract of land "in the
Nipmug country, of eight miles square, for their encouragement & others that
were serviuceable to the country in the late Indian War [King Philip's War]".
As with the later government promise of "40 acres, and a mule", no settlement
was made on this grant. However, in 1728 many of these petitioners were among
those granted land at Narraganset Township No. 3, now Amherst, New Hampshire.
(William Bassett, Sr. was long dead, but his grant was claimed by 'William Bassett,
William Bassett, Sr. wrote his will on 10 February
1701/2 and it was probated on 22 May 1703. In it, "...'William Basset' of
Lynn, being 'of good old age,' bequeathed to 'my dear and loving wife' the improvement
of the whole estate during her natural life, all moveables to be to her absolute
disposal; to 'my eldest son William Bassett.' £5; to 'my son Elisha Bassett.'
50s; to 'my son Samuell Bassett.' 50s; to 'my daughter Elizebeth Bassett alias
Richards.' 40s; to 'my daughter Sarah Ellwell.' 40s; to 'my daughter Merriam Sandy.'
40s; to 'my daughter Mary Rich.' 40 s; to 'my daughter Rachel Silsbe.' 40s; to
'my daughter Rebecca Bassett.' 40s; to 'my daughter Hannah Lille.' 40s; 'my son
William Bassett' sole executor..."
of the estate of 'William Basset of Lyn.' taken 23 April 1703, totalled £110
14s., of which £74 was real estate: 'one old house, half a barn " seven
acres " half of land.' £67 10s.; and 'one piece of salt marsh lying
by the beach.' £6 10s..."
William and Sarah had
the following children:
OF WILLIAM AND SARAH BASSETT
BASSETT Elizabeth was born circa 1647 in Lynn, Essex co., MA. On 1 April 1674
when Elizabeth was 27, she first married JOHN PROCTOR, in Salem, Essex co., MA.
Was arrested, tried and convicted of witchcraft. Two of her children were arrested
and tried for witchcraft, as well. She ws sentenced to death, but spared because
she was pregnant.|
BASSETT, JR., b. 1648 in New Haven. Married SARAH HOOD, who was arrested and tried
for withcraft. She was jailed, pregnant, in Boston until 12/3/1692, and gave birth
to a child a week later who she named "Deliverance" in honor of her
freedom. She was paid nine ponds for her troubles.|
BASSETT, b. 1649 in Lynn, Essex, MA. She married THOMAS EWELL on 11/23/1675 in
Gloucester, Essex co., MA.|
BASSETT, b. 1651 in Lynn, Essex, MA.|
BASSETT, b. Nov 1653 in Lynn, Essex, MA.|
BASSETT, b. Sep 1655 in Lynn, Essex, MA. She married EPHRAIM SANDIN.|
BASSETT, b. May 1657 in New Haven, New Haven, CT. Married MICHAEL DeRICH. Was
arrested and tried for witchcraft.|
BASSETT #1, b. 25 Feb 1660 in Lynn, Essex, MA. She died in Lynn @ 160, at age
BASSETT, b. 1662 in Lynn, Essex, MA. She was still living on 2/10/1701, when she
was named in her father's will.|
BASSETT, b. 18 Mar 1664 in Lynn, Essex, MA.|
BASSETT, b. 13 Mar 1666 in Lynn, Essex co. She married EPHRAIM SISLBY on 1/23/1693.|
Bassett #2 was born @ 1670 in Lynn, Essex co. She married JOHN LILLE.|
died in Lynn, Essex county, Massachusetts, on the 31st of March, 1703; he was
79. He had survived the death of his father, emigration to America, and battles
with Indians in both the King Philips' War & King William's Waronly
to see his childrenthe third generation of Bassetts in this lineabsolutely
decimated by the 1692 Salem Witchcraft Hysteria.
William & Sarah's 12 children were touched by the Salem Witch Hysteria prosecution.
Their oldest daughter (and our ancestor), ELIZABETH, who married JOHN
PROCTOR , lost her husband and everything they had built together.
was his third wife, and they were married for 18 years. They moved to Salem Town
in 1666. She ran the family tavern, and appears to have been quite the feisty
woman. Elizabeth fought on two occasions with Robert Stone over an unpaid bar
tab. Her grandmother, Ann B. Lynn, was once suspected of witchcraft. With her
family history and her temper, itwasn't long before her servant, Mary Warren,
testified that Elizabeth tried to make her sign the "Devil's Book."
Several of her children would face this accusation, as well:
OF JOHN PROCTOR AND ELIZABETH BASSETT
PROCTOR, b: 6 Feb 1675 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.|
PROCTOR, b: 28 Jan 1676 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. (Family listed below.)|
11 Jan 1687 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Married Sarah BRACKETT.|
28 Apr 1687 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Death: 11 Nov 1688 in Salem, Essex,
PROCTOR b: 27 Jan 1689
in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.|
PROCTOR III b: 27 Jan
1693 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Named after his executed father. Married
and died @ 1745.|
the reason for the charges, here they are:
FOR THE ARREST OF ELIZABETH BASSETT PROCTOR
Aprill. 4'th 1692
There Being Complaint this day made (Before us) by capt
Jonat Walcott, and Lt Natheniell Ingersull both of Salem Village, in Behalfe of
theire Majesties for themselfes and also for severall of their Neighbours Against
Sarah Cloyce the wife of peter Cloyce of Salem Village; and Elizabeth Proctor
the wife of John Proctor of Salem farmes for high Suspition of Sundry acts of
Witchcraft donne or Committed by them upon the bodys of Abigail Williams, and
John Indian both of Mr Sam parris his family of Salem Village and mary Walcott
daughterof the abovesaid Complainants, And Ann Putnam and Marcy Lewis of the famyly
of Thomas Putnam of Salem Village whereby great hurt and dammage hath beene donne
to the Bodys of s'd persons above named therefore Craved Justice.
You are therefore
in theire Majest's names hereby required to apprehend and bring before us Sarah
Cloyce the wife of peter Cloyce of Salem Village and Elizabeth proctor the wife
of John Procter of Salem farmes; on Munday Morneing Next being the Eleventh day
of this Instant Aprill aboute Eleven of the Clock, at the publike Meeting house
in the Towne, in order to theire Examination Relateing to the premesis aboves'd
and here of you are. not to faile. Dated Salem Aprill 8'th 1692
To George Herick
Marshall of the County of essex
Jonathan Corwin Assists [Essex
County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 24]
this family was so plagued by this hysteria is a mystery. William Bassett, Sr.
once signed petition against John Hathorne for serving strong drink. Either this
John Hathorne or a near relative was the same John Hathorne who was one of the
Salem Hysteria judges. Also, there were the charges against Elizabeth's grandmother,
which probably raised suspicion. Mainly, though, they were just outsiders in the
Salem communityprosperous outsiders, who owned a large home and ran
a tavern (which in Puritan society signalled that you had made it). There was
jealosy (especially from the established, less-successful Putnam family), there
was distrust, and probably a lot of unpaid bar tabs.
the reasoning, Elizabeth was arrested and jailed with the other "witches"and
basically treated like animals:
Examination of Bridget Bishop, Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth Proctor, Alice Parker,
Susannah Martin, and Sarah Good, No. 1
Salem June 2'd aboute 10 in Morning
Wee whose names are under written being
commanded by Capt George Crowine Esq'r Sherriffe of the County of Essex this 2'd
day of June 1692 for to vew the bodyes of Bridgett Bishop alias Oliver
first three, Namely: Bishop: Nurse: procter, by diligent search have discovered
apreternathurall Excresence of flesh between the pudendum and Anus much like to
Tetts " not usuall in women " much unlike to the other three that hath
been searched by us " that they were in all the three women neer the same
*J Barton Chyrurgen
Alice pickering her marke
Jane Woolings her
Marjery Williams her marke
Anna Stephens her marke
Elanor Henderson her marke
Rebecah Sharpe her marke
in court June 2'd 1692
* Step: Sewall Cle
Examination of Bridget Bishop, Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth Proctor, Alice Parker,
Susannah Martin, and Sarah Good, No. 2
aboute 4 afternoon June 2'd 1692 .
We whose names are Subscribed to the w'th
in mentioned, upon a second search about 3 or 4 houres distance, did find the
said Brigett Bishop alias Oliver, in a clear & free state from any p'eter-naturall
Excresence, as formerly seen by us alsoe Rebecah Nurse in stead of that Excresence
w'thin Mentioned it appears only as a dry skin without sense, & as for Elizabeth
procter which Excresence like a tett red & fresh, not any thing appears, but
only a proper [ pro-cedeulia Ani,] & as for Susanna Martine whose breast in
the Morning search appeared to us very full; the Nibbs fresh & starting, now
at this searching all lancke & pendant which is all at pr'sent from the w'th
in Memtioned subscribers and that that piece of flesh of Goodwife Nursess' formerly
seen is gone & only a dry skin nearer to the anus in another place
the marke of Elizabeth Hill
*J Barton Chyrurgen
Alice Pickering marke
marke Anna Stephens
Jane Wollings marke
in Court June 2'd 1692
County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 35]
Salem townspeople were arrested for witchcraft on the flimsiest of evidence. Elizabeth
and her husband were tragic victims. John was accused of Witchcraft by his 20-year-old
servant girl, Mary Warren. It is thought that John was rather outspoken and threatened
to beat and/or beat Mary when she would have one of "her fits.".
George Corwin of Essex County, was especially sadistic in his attempts to extract
"confessions" from the accused. In his letter to the Boston clergy,
John Proctor describes the hog-tying of his teenage son in an attempt by Corwin
to extract a confession of witchcraft from him. This was apparently not out of
the ordinary for Corwin. (Legend has it that a curse was laid by Giles Corey,
who was crushed to death as the sheriff tried to get his confession, upon anyone
who holds the office of Essex County Sheriff...and enough odd events have befallen
those who have done so to keep the legend alive into the 21st century).
Calef, in his More Wonders Of The Invisible World [reprinted in Narratives
of the New England Witchcraft Cases, ed. George Lincoln Burr (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1914; reprinted by Dover, 2002)] writes this poignant description
of what happened to the Proctor family in this regard. It applies all of the families
of the convicted male witches (save Giles Corey):
Procter and his Wife being in Prison, the Sheriff came to his House and seized
all the Goods, Provisions, and Cattle that he could come at, and sold some of
the Cattle at half price, and killed others, and put them up for the West-Indies;
threw out the Beer out of a Barrel, and carried away the Barrel; emptied a Pot
of Broath, and took away the Pot, and left nothing in the House for the support
of the Children: No part of the said Goods are known to be returned. Procter earnestly
requested Mr. Noyes to pray with and for him, but it was wholly denied, because
he would not own himself to be a Witch..." [pp. 361-2]|
Lecheford's letter describing how nasty the Sheriff was when he took everything
from their home is heart-rending. Two of her children were arrested, tortured
and tried and Elizabeth, herself, was convicted and sentenced to death. Only her
pregnancy prevented her execution. By the time she had given birth, the Hysteria
was over and she was not hung. William, Jr.'s wife, Sarah [Hood], was also arrested,
tortured and tried for witchcraft. Finally, William Sr. & Sarah's daughter
Mary, wife of Michael De Rich, was also arrested, tortured and tried for witchcraft.
Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard v. John Proctor, Elizabeth Proctor, William Proctor,
and Sarah Proctor:|
"The depo'ion of Mary Walcutt and Elizabeth Hubbard , s'd that on the 29
of May 1692 we came to see James holten, how lay grevesely tormented and we then
saw John prockter and his wife his son Wm procter, Sarah procter, and all of them
a presing of him w'h there hands one his stomack and tormenting of him most grevesely
and then quckly after they fell upon us and afflected us most dredfully for a
considerable time. Jurat in Curia by both ( Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft
Vol. 1, Page 16 )
trials, held in 1692, led to the execution of twenty people for allegedly practicing
witchcraft. The trials are noted for the hysterical atmosphere in which they were
conducted. Here were the charges against Elizabeth:
CASE AGAINST ELIZABETH BASSETT PROCTOR
v. Elizabeth Proctor, No. 1: "Anno Regis et Reginae Willm et Mariae nunc
Angliae &c Quarto Essex ss. The Jurors for our Sovereigne Lord and Lady the
King and Queen p'esents That: Elizabeth Procter Wife of John Procter of Salemthe
11'th Day of Aprill in the fourth Year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord and
Lady William and Mary: by the Grace of God of England Scottland France and Ireland
King and Queen Defenders of the faith &c and Divers other Dayes and times.
as well before, as after, certaine Detestable Arts called witchcraft & sorceries,
wickedly and feloniously hath usedractised and Exercised, at and within the Towneship
of Salem in the County of Essex aforesaid in upon and ag't on Mary Walcott of
Salem Villiage Singlewomanby which said wicked arts the said Mary Walcott
the II'th Day of Aprill in the forth Year as aboves'd and Divers other Dayes and
times as well before; as after was and is Tortured afflicted Pined Consumed wasted
and Tormented: and also for sundry other acts of witchcraft by said Elizabeth
Procter Committed and donne be fore and since that time ag't the Peace of our
Sovereigne Lord and Lady, the King and Queen and ag't the forme of the Statute
in that case made and Provided." Witnesses. Mary Wolcutt [unclear] Sworn
Ann Putman ; Mercy Lewis ; (Reverse) No. El. Procter bill a vera Procter &
wife (Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 24 )|
v. Elizabeth Proctor, No. 2: "Anno Regis et Reginae Willm et Mariae nunc
Angliae &c Quarto Essex ss. The Jurors for our Sovereigne Lord and Lady the
King and Queen 'esents that Elizabeth Procter. Wife of John Procter of Salem husbandmanthe
II'th day of Aprill in the forth year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord and
Lady William and Mary by the Grace of God. of England Scottland France and Ireland
King and Queen Defenders of the faith &c and Divers other Dayes and times
as well before as after, Certain Detestable Arts called Witchcrafts and Sorceries
Wickedly and feloniously hath used Practised and Exercised at and within the Towneship
of Salem in the County of Essex afores'd in Upon and ag't one Marcy Lewis of Salem
Villiage in the County afores'd Singlewoman by which said wicked Arts, the said
Marcy Lewis the II'th Day of Aprill in the forth year abovesaid and Divers other
Dayes and times as well before as after was and is Tortured Afflicted Pined Consumed
wasted & Tormented, And also for Sundry other Acts of Witchcraft by the said
Elizabeth. Procter Committed and Done before and since that time. ag't the peace
of our Sovereigne Lord and Lady the King and Queen and ag't the forme of the Statute,
in that case made and Provided." Witnesses Mercy Lewis. [unclear]. Ann Putman.
Sworn Eliz. Hubbard (Reverse) Bill a vera No. Eli. Proctor. (Essex County Archives,
SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 24)
of Sarah Cloyse and Elizabeth Proctor at
a court held at Salem, April 1692, by the honoured Thomas Danforth, Deputy Governor.
John; who hurt you?
A. Goody Procter first, and then Goody Cloyse.
did she do to you?
A. She brought the book to me.
Q. John! tell the truth,
who hurts you? have you been hurt?
A. The first, was a gentlewoman I saw.
A. Goody Cloyse.
Q. But who hurt you next?
A. Goody Procter.
What did she do to you?
A. She choaked me, and brought the book.
oft did she come to torment you?
A. A good many times, she and Goody Cloyse.
Do they come to you in the night as well as the day?
A. They come most in the
A. Goody Cloyse and Goody Procter.
Q. Where did she take
hold of you?
A. Upon my throat, to stop my breath.
Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts-Bay, II, 21-23]
all of the testimony, click here.)
Putnam, Jr. v. Elizabeth Proctor:|
The Deposistion of Ann putnam Jun
who testifieth and saith that on the 3'th of march 1691/92 I saw the Apperishtion
of gooddy procktor amongst the wicthes & she did almost choake me Immediatly
and bite and pinch me but I did not know who she was tell the 6'th of march that
I saw hir att meeting and then I tould them that held me that that woman was one
that did afflect me: and severall times sence she hath greviously afflected me
by biting pinching and almost choaking me urging me vehemently to writ in hir
book: but on the II'th April 1692 the Apperishtion of Elizabeth proctor the wife
of John procktor sen'r did most greviously torment me dureing the time of hir
examination and also severall times sence by biting pinching and allmost choaking
me to death urging me vehemently to writ in hir book: also on the II'th April
it being the day of the examination of Elizabeth proctor I saw the Apperishtion
of Elizabeth proctor goe and afflect the bodys of Mistris pope Mary walcott Mircy
lewes Abigail Williams and also all the time of hir examination she and hir: Husband
and Sarah Cloys did most greviously afflect Elizabeth Hubboard and would not let
hir spake a word as I herd ann Putnam owned this har testimony to be the truth
one har oath before the Juriars of Inqwest this: 30 dy of June; 1692. Jurat in
Curia (Reverse) Ann puttnam ag't Eliza. procter (Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft
Vol. 1 Page 25)
was tried and condemned for witchcraft, but was not hanged because she was pregnant
at the time. John stood by her during the trials and was so vocal that the accusers
started pointing their fingers at him, too, and he was charged to be a wizard.
On the the 23rd of July in 1692, fearing that they could not get a fair trial
in Salem village, John Proctor and other prisoners write a letter from prison
to the Reverend Increase Mather, James Allen, Joshua Moody, Samuel Willard, and
John Bayley in an attempt to gain their support for a change of venue. This letter
changed the course of the trialsbut not soon enough for John: He was tried
on the 5th of August in 1692, and hanged on the 19th, along with George Burroughs,
George Jacobs Sr., John Willard, and Martha Carrier at Gallows Hill.
Joan Allen as Elizabeth Bassett Proctor in Arthur Miller's play about the Salem
with trials, "The Crucible."
John's letter may have saved his wife. The trials were stopped, and then in May
of 1683, Govenor Phips pardoned the remaining accused of witchcraft.
outside of losing the patriarch of the family, how did this affect the remains
of the Proctor family? Their four oldest childrenMartha, 26; John, 24; Mary,
23 and Thorndike, 20were married and on their own by 1692. However, John's
second family suffered as "greviously" as any in this madness. The two
eldest children of ElizabethWilliam, aged 18, and Sarah, aged 16were
accused and tried in their own right. John Proctor's letter of 23 July 1692, describes
William's tortorous "examination" in prison, where they apparently hog-tied
" left him for hours in an attempt to get William to confess to being a witch.
Their three younger children were Samuel, aged 7; Elisha, aged 5 and Abigail,
aged 3. One can only imagine what it was like for those three children to witness
their mother " father dragged away and accused of horrific things with their
mother thrown in jail and their father hanged. Not to mention witnessing the visit
of the sheriff described below and the almost certain ostracision in the community.
addition, to the 17th century Puritan legal mind, it made perfect sense that when
a wife died, the husband simply went out and remarried and the household stayed
an intact unit. However, when the husband died, the entire household was inventoried
and split up either per the husband's will or per the law if he died intestate.
In other words, in the event of the death of the husband, the entire household
unit was splintered apart by law with the survivors left to make new lives the
best they could after the estate had been divvied up amongst them.
the case of a "confessed" witch, the law was entitled to take everything.
This is why Giles Corey faced the horrific fate of being pressed to death. It
was not intended to be a method of execution, but one of eliciting a confession.
Since Corey died without "confessing his sin of being a witch", his
estate remained safely within the family's ownership. To add insult to injury,
the cost of imprisonment " execution was borne by the witch's family and
sometimes the judges and executioners in witch cases would even throw themselves
a party on the witch's nickel. In the case of Elizabeth, she was now alone
to raise a newborn, three children under the age of ten, and two teenagers (who
themselves were marked by the horrors of "examination")she had
no property or possessions. Although pardoned, she was still a convicted felon
in the eyes of the law and barred from claiming any of her husband's property
as a result. The farm was not returned and recompense took its time in coming:
In 1696, Elizabeth Proctor petitioned the General Court for return ofat
the very leastthe dower that she and John agreed to in their pre-nuptial
of Elizabeth Proctor |
To the Honourable Generall Court Asembled at Boston may twenty seventh 1696
Humble petetion of Elizabeth procter widow and Relict of John proctor of salem
decesed Humbly sheweth that in the yere of our Lord 1692 when many persons in
salem and in other towns ther about were accused by son evill disposed or strangly
Influenced persons, as being witches or for being guilty of acting witchcraft
my s'd Husband John procter and my selfe were accused of such and we both: my
s'd Husband and my selfe were soe farr proceded against that we were condemned
but in that sad time of darkness before my said husband was executed it is evident
som body had Contrived awill and brought it to him to sign wher in his wholl estat
is disposed of not having Regard to a contract in wrighting mad with me before
mariag with him; but soe it pleased god to order by his providence that although
the sentanc was executed on my dere husband yet through gods great goodnes to
your petitioner I am yet alive; sinc my husbands death the s'd will is proved
and aproved by the Judg of probate and by that kind of desposall the wholl estat
is disposed of; and although god hath Granted my life yet those that claime my
s'd husbands estate by that which thay Call awill will not suffer me to have one
peny of the Estat nither upon the acount of my husbands Contract with me before
mariage nor yet upon the acount of the dowr which as I humbly conceive doth belong
or ought to belong to me by the law for thay say that I am dead in the law and
therfore my humble request and petetion to this Honoured Generall Court is that
by an act of his honoured Court as god hath Contenewed my life and through gods
goodnes without feare of being put to death upon that sentanc you would be pleased
to put me Into acapacity to make use of the law to Recover that which of Right
by law I ought to have for my nessesary suply and support that as I your petetioner
am one of his magestyes subjects I may have the benifett of his laws soe Humbly
prateng that fod would direct your honnours in all things to doe that which may
be well pleasing to him I subscrib your honours humble petetioner
procter widow Read 10th June. 1692[sic] in councill [Mass. Archives Vol. 135]
On December 17, 1710, she was paid £578 pounds and 12 shillings in restitution
for her husband's death, and £150 was awarded in 1711 as recompense for
his execution and her imprisonment.
It's assumed that Elizabeth
returned to her parents' home after the nightmare of 1692. On 22 September 1699,
when Elizabeth was 52, she married DANIEL RICHARDS, in Lynn, Essex co., MA. They
must have then removed to another town, since there is no death record for either
Elizabeth or Daniel in Lynn. Nor is their any marriage or death record for the
two youngest Proctor childrenElisha and Abigailin that town.
of the Bassetts left the Puritan movement, as well, and married into known Quaker
In the 20th century, Elizabeth and her family were
immortalized by playwrite Arthur Miller in the award-winning play and film, The
Crucible: In this drama, Elizabeth becomes an instrumental part of the play
when she fires Abigail Williams, who is having an affair with her husband John.
Elizabeth Proctor is portrayed as a very pious woman; however, she and her husband
don't always attend church services, which makes Reverend John Hale suspect that
they may be involved in witchcraft. Elizabeth is taken away to jail and it is
up to her husband to defend her. She is a very honest woman and stays by John
even in the midst of his adulterous affair. Although Elizabeth is portrayed as
cold and aloof at times, she is a dedicated and devoted wife and mother.
Nova Anglia Company of Salem, Essex co., MA whose book "The Salem Witchcraft
Trials: A Documentary History of 1692" provides the unvarnished original
court documents in most of the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria cases. All transcriptions
of the trial proceedings and other legal documents pertaining to the Salem Trials
come from this source.Top
Illustration: THE TRIAL OF GEORGE JACOBS (BY T. H. MATTESON).