name "Proctor" is Northern English: it's an occupational name from the
Middle English term prok(e)tour (steward), reduced
from the Old French term procurateour, and the Latin procurator
(agent, from procurareto manage). The term
was used most commonly of an attorney in a spiritual court, but also of other
officials such as collectors of taxes and agents licensed to collect alms on behalf
of lepers and enclosed orders of monks. The family Coat of Arms is gold with three
black nails; The crest is a red bird. The family motto, "Toujours fidele,"
translates as "Always faithful"which is a rarity for agents.
family was first found in Cambridgeshire, where they held a family seat from very
ancient times. Our lineage to this family can be traced to JOHN PROCTOR (1595
- 28 Sep 1672), who sailed from London to Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1635 with
his wife, MARTHA (possibly HARPER), and two children, Mary, aged 1, and our ancestor,
3-year-old JOHN PROCTOR. John Sr. was a prosperous landowner, and "occupied
many various offices of trust in the colony."
left his son a large estate, and in 1666, John Jr. moved near Salem Village, purchasing
the Downing farm. There, "he leased one of the largest farms of the area,
'Groton,' a 700-acre spread lying immediately southeast of the Village line."
Although farming was his primary business, Proctor's wife and daughter ran a local
tavern on Ipswich Road. Proctor seems to have been an enormous man, very large
framed, "impulsive," with great force and energy. Proctor is described
on several occasions, from various sources as a strong-willed beast of a man.
Charles Upham writes, "He was a man of Herculean frame...he had great native
force and energy...he was bold in his spirit and in his language." Although
an upright man, he seems to have been rash in speech, judgment, and action. It
was his unguarded tonguethat would eventually lead to his death.
married ELIZABETH BASSETT on the 1st of April, in 1674.
She was John's third wife, and remained married to him for 18 years, running the
family tavern with one of their daughters. Their children were:
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.|
addition, there were the children from John's previous marriages to Martha GIDDONS
in 1655, and Elizabeth THORNDICK/THORNDIKE in 1662: Martha II, Mary (1), John,
Mary (2), Sarah (1), and Thorndike. This large family prospered on the frontier,
operating the farm and tavern. Strange as it may seem now, in Puritan society
to be granted a license as a tavern keeper showed that a man had arrived. But
the Proctors did make some enemies: Elizabeth fought on two occasions with Robert
Stone over an unpaid bar tab. She was born around 1650 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts.
Her grandmother, ANN B. LYNN, was once suspected of witchcrafta charge that
would haunt Elizabeth and her children.
colonists in late-seventeenth-century New England combined their Puritan faith
with a belief in witchcraft, and charges that one or another person was one of
Satan's agents, bent on bringing harm to the community, were common. By far the
greatest concentration of these charges occurred in Salem Village, Massachusetts,
in 1692. Trials there resulted in a number of convictions and executions, the
result of a period of factional infighting and Puritan paranoia which led to the
deaths of at least twenty-five people and the imprisonment of scores more. Witch
trials were held in Europe several hundred years before those in Salem. A number
of historians have linked the witch trials to the painful changes that Puritan
society was experiencing at the time. Torn between the communal asceticism of
their original goals and the commercial individualism fast overtaking them, some
Puritans, the historians argue, responded with guilt and fear, seeking scapegoats
on whom they could blame their sense of moral loss. Within Salem Village, a history
of bitter factionalism (as well as resentment toward the more prosperous Salem
Town, which controlled the village politically and ecclesiastically) may have
helped make the witch-hunt in Salem Village the most virulent in New England.
are various theories as to why the community of Salem Village exploded into delusions
of witchcraft and demonic interference. The most common one is that the Puritans,
who governed Massachusetts Bay Colony with little royal intervention from its
settlement in 1630 until the new Charter was installed in 1692, went through mass
religion-induced hysterical delusion. Most modern experts view that as too simplistic
an explanation. Other theories include child abuse, fortune-telling experiments
gone amok, ergot-related paranoid fantasies (ergot is a fungus that grows on damp
barley, producing a substance very similar to D-lysergic acid; in a pre-industrial
society, it is easy to accidentally ingest it), conspiracy by the Putnam
family to destroy the rival Porter family, and societal victimization of women.
was also great stress within the Puritan community. They had lost their charter
in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, and in the spring of 1692 still did not know
what their future would be. They were under constant Indian attack and could not
depend on England at all for support; their militia came from the ranks of their
young men, and in 1675's King Philip's War their entire population had been decimated:
one of ten European settlers in New England was killed by Indian attacks. Though
that war was over, Indian raids and skirmishes were a constant hazard. More and
more, New England was becoming a mercantile colony, and Puritans and non-Puritans
alike were making a lot of money, which the Puritans saw as both necessary and
sinful. And as the merchant class rose in status, the ministerial class declined.
the most compelling new theory is that of Mary Beth Norton, who wrote In The Devil's
Snare. Her thesis: that any or all of the above explanations likely played an
important role, but Salem and the rest of New England, and particularly the north
and northwest areas, were besieged by frequent Indian attacks, which created an
atmosphere of fear that contributed greatly to the hysteria. Her evidence: most
of the accused witches and most of the afflicted girls had strong societal or
personal ties to Indian attacks over the preceding fifteen years. The accusers
frequently referenced a "black man," discussed joint meetings between
the alleged witches and Indians in sabbats, and described images of torture taken
directly from tales of Indian captivity. In addition, Puritan clergy had, since
King Philip's War in 1675, frequently referred to Indians as being of the devil,
had associated them with witchcraft and, in pulpit-pounding sermons that lasted
as long as five hours, expounded repeatedly about Satan and his devils besieging
the Puritans, who were seen as the army of God. In short, the Indian had been
associated in the New England Puritan mind as the Devil. Therefore, concerted
Indian attacks were the Devil trying to bring down the Puritan society, and one
should expect attacks from within as well as without. By 1691, Puritans were primed
for witchcraft hysteria.
Salem Village itself was a microcosm
of Puritan stress. Half the Village were farmers and supported the minister, Samuel
Parris, in breaking away from Salem Town to form their own distinct township;
the other half of the Village wanted to remain part of Salem Town, retaining the
merchant ties, and refused to contribute to the maintenance of Parris and his
family. In addition, a number of refugees from recent Indian attacks in the Maine
and New Hampshire regions had taken shelter with relatives in Salem, bringing
tales of horror with them. As a result, by 1691 Salem Village was a powder keg,
and the spreading possession of young girls was the spark that set it off.
the cold winter of 1691/2, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams, the daughter and
ward of Reverend Samuel Parris, began to act peculiarly speaking oddly,
hiding under things and creeping on the floor. Not a single doctor Rev. Parris
brought forth could tell what ailed the girls, and at last one concluded that
it was the hand of the Devil on them; in other words, they were possessed. Parris
and other upstanding citizens began urging Betty and Abigail, and then newly-possessed
children Ann Putnam, Betty Hubbard, Mercy Lewis, Susannah Sheldon, Mercy Short,
and Mary Warren, to name those who afflicted them. Finally the girls began to
blurt out namesidentifying a widening circle of local residents as witches
and wizards--mostly middle-aged women but also men and even one four-year-old
child. Arrest followed arrest, but the fits increased. By the end of the summer,
hundreds had been accused, twenty-seven put on trial, and nineteen executed.
first three women to be accused were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. Sarah
Good was the town beggar, the dispossessed daughter of a French innkeeper (who
committed suicide when Sarah was a teenager), who often "went away muttering"
whether she was given sustenance or not. Sarah Osborne was a bedridden elderly
woman who had gotten on the wrong side of the Putnams
when she cheated her first husband's children out of their inheritance, giving
it to her new husband. Tituba was the Carib Native American slave of Samuel Parris;
though she is very often referred to as black in modern historical and fictional
interpretations of the trials, there is no evidence that she was anything but
These women were charged with witchcraft
on March 1 and put in prison. Other accusations followed: Dorcas Good (four-year-old
daughter of Sarah Good), Rebecca Nurse (a bedridden grandmother of saintly disposition),
Abigail Hobbs, Deliverance Hobbs, Martha Cory, and Elizabeth and John Proctor.
As the number of accusations grew, the jail populations of Salem, Boston, and
surrounding areas swelled, and a new problem surfaced: without a legitimate form
of government, there was no way to try these women. None of them were tried until
late May, when Governor Phips arrived and instituted a Court of Oyer and Terminer
(to "hear and determine"). By then, Sarah Osborne had died in jail without
a trial, as had Sarah Good's newborn baby girl, and many others were ill; there
were perhaps eighty people in jail awaiting trial. After the examination of Rebecca
Nurse, Proctor was enraged, saying: If they [the afflicted girls] were let
alone, so we should all be devils and witches.
on the 28th of March, 1692, one of the afflicted girls, possibly Mercy Lewis,
accused Elizabeth Proctor and her sister-in-law of witchcraft. The Proctors' 20-year-old
servant, Mary Warren, testified that Elizabeth tried to make her sign the "Devil's
Book." From the start of the outbreak of witchcraft hysteria in Salem, Proctor
had denounced the whole proceedings and the afflicted girls as a scam. This strong
character is mentioned in Bernard Rosenthal's Salem Story: "Proctor
had argued against the reliability of testimony from confessors...No one else
had come as close as Proctor did to forcing the issue." Throughout the trials,
Proctor stood up and questioned the credibility of spectral evidence. Proctor
did not conceal his vehement opposition to the trials and is recorded remarking
about his servant Mary Warren, "he [Proctor] would fetch his jade Home &
thresh the Devil out of her." With such strong feelings in opposition of
the court, Proctor became a prime target of accusations. Thus it can be stated
that John Proctor directly and on several occasions threatened the validity of
the Court of Oyer and Terminer. When his wife was accused and questioned, he stood
with her throughout the proceedings and staunchly defended her innocence. It was
during her questioning that he, too, was named a witch:
Day Lewis and Joan Allen as the Proctors in Arthur Miller's play and film about
the Salem with trials, "The Crucible." (Daniel needs to add about 50
pounds and 30 years if he wants to resemble the real man, who was 60 and heavy-set.)
Elizabeth Procter! you understand whereof you are charged, viz. to be guilty of
sundry acts of witchcraft; what say you to it? Speak the truth, and so you that
are afflicted, you must speak the trutyh, as you will answer it before God another
day. Mary Walcot! doth this woman hurt you?|
A. I never saw her so as to be
hurt by her.
Q. Mary Lewis! does she hurt you?
Her mouth was stopped.
Ann Putnam, does she hurt you?
She could not speak.
Williams! does she hurt you?
Her hand was thrust in her own mouth.
John! does she hurt you?
A. This is the woman that came in her shift and choaked
Q. did she ever bring the book?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. What to do?
Q. What, this woman?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q. Are you sure of it?
-- Again Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam were spoke to by the court,
but neither of them could make any answer, by reason of dumbness or other fits.
What do you say Goody Procter to these things?
A. I take God in heaven to be
my witness, that I know nothing of it, no more than the child unborn.
Putnam! doth this woman hurt you.
A. Yes Sir, a great many times.Then
the accused looked upon them and they fell into fits.
Q. She does not bring
the book to you, does she?
A. Yes, Sir, often, and saith she hath made her
maid set her hand to it.
Q. Abigail Williams! doth this woman hurt you?
Yes, Sir, often.
Q. Does she bring the book to you?
Q. What would
she have you do with it?
A. To write in it and I shall be well.
you not, said Abigal, tell me, that your maid had written? (Procter) Dear Child,
it is not so. There is another judgement, dear child.
Then Abigail and
Ann had fits.
-- By and by they cried out, look you there is Goody Procter
upon the beam.
By and by, both of them cried out of Goodman Procter himself,
and said he was a wizard.I immediately, many, if not all of the bewitched,
had grievous fits.
Q. Ann Putnam! who hurt you?
A. Goodman Procter
and his wife too.
Afterwards some of the afflicted cried, there is Procter
going to take up Mrs. Pope's feet.And her feet were immediately taken up.
What do you say Goodman Proctor to these things?
A. I know not, I am innocent.
Williams cried out, there is Goodman Procter going to Mrs. Pope, and immediately,
said Pope fell into a fit.You see the devil will deceive you; the children
could see what you was going to do before the woman was hurt. I would advise you
to repentance, for the devil is bringing you out.Abigail
out again, there is Goodman Procter going to hurt Good Bibber; and immediately
Goody Bibber fell into a fit. There was the lide of Mary Walcot, and divers others.
Gould gave in his testimony, that he had seen Goodman Corey and his wife, Procter
and his wife, Goody Cloyse, Goody Nurse, and Goody Griggs in his chamber last
Elizabeth Hubbard was in a trance durning the whole examination.
the examination of Elizabeth Procter, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam, both made
offer to strike at said Procter; but when Abigail's hand came near, it opened,
whereas it was made up into a fist before, and came done [down] exceeding lightly,
as it drew near to said Procter, and at length with open and extended fingers,
touched Procter's hood very lightly. Immediately Abigail cried out, her fingers,
her fingers, burned, and Ann Putnam tood on most greviously, of her head, and
Salem, April 11th, 1692. Mr. Samuel Parris was desired by the honourable
Danforth, deputy-governor, and the council, to take in writing the aforesaid examinations,
and accordingly tood and delivered them in; and upon hearing the same, and seeing
what was then seen, together with the charge of the afflicted persons, were by
the advice of the council all commetted by us.
Assistants. [Thomas Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts-Bay, II, 21-23]
was the first male to be named as a witch in Salem. In addition, all of his children
were accused. The only evidence against them was spectralthe afflicted girls
claimed the Proctors apparitions, or specters, were tormenting them. The
Proctors' servant, Mary Warrenwho herself would later be named as a witchaccused
Proctor of practicing witchcraft. It is believed by some sources that when Mary
first had fits Proctor, believing them to be fake, would beat her out of them.
Even if it didn't actually beat her, he certainly threatened beatings and worse
if she didn't stop the fits. It was this type of outspoken criticism of the afflicted
that caused Proctor to be accused.
Warren v. John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor:
"Mary Warrens Confession ag't Jo: Proctor & ux Charges them personally
to cause her to signe or make a mark in there book and both of them comitting
acts of Witchcraft & being soe & personally threatned the poit with tortures
if she would not signe & since con[torn] have of times afflicted & tormented
her.large in her Confessions vide." ( Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft
Vol. 1 Page 15 )
Warren v. John Proctor:
"The deposition of mary warrin aged 20 y'rs ho testifieth I have seen the
apparition of John procter sen'r among the wiches and he hath often tortored me
by penching me and biting me and Choakeing me and presing me one my Stomack tell
the blood came out of my mouth and all so I saw him tortor Mes poap and marcey
lues and John Indian a pon the day of his examination and he hath allso temted
me to right in his book and to eat bread which he brought to me which I Refuseing
to doe: Jno proctor did most greviously tortor me with variety of torturs all
most Redy to kill me. Mary Warren owned the above written upon her oath before
& unto the Grand inquest on the 30'th Day of June 1692" (Essex County
Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 16 )
the 11th of April in 1692, Sarah Cloyce and Elizabeth Proctor appeared before
the magistrates. This same day, John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce, Martha
Corey, Dorcas Good and Elizabeth Proctor were sent to a Boston prison.
May 21 , an arrest warrant was issued for John and Elizabeth Proctor's daughter,
Sarah (Cloyes), and on the 23rd an arrest warrant was issues for their son, Benjamin.
On the 28th of May an arrest warrant was issued for their second son, William.
The community, besieged by Indians and dispossessed of their
charter, the only form of government they had, believed the accusations, and sentenced
these people to either confess they were witches or be hanged. The accusations
spread quickly, and within only a couple of months involved the neighboring communities
of Andover, Amesbury, Salisbury, Haverhill, Topsfield, Ipswich, Rowley, Gloucester,
Manchester, Malden, Charlestown, Billerica, Beverly, Reading, Woburn, Lynn, Marblehead,
Over the summer, the Court heard cases approximately
once per month, at mid-month. Of the accused, only one was released when the girls
recanted their identification of him. All cases that were heard ended with the
accused being condemned to death for witchcraft; no one was found innocent. Only
those who pleaded guilty to witchcraft and supplied other names to the court were
spared execution. Elizabeth Proctor and at least one other woman were given respite
"for the belly," because they were pregnant. Though convicted, they
would not be hanged until they had given birth. A series of four executions over
the summer saw nineteen people hanged, including a respected minister, a former
constable who refused to arrest more accused witches, and at least three people
of some wealth. Six of the nineteen were men; most of the rest were impoverished
women beyond childbearing age.
Only one execution was not
by hanging. Giles Cory, an eighty-year-old farmer from the southeast end of Salem,
refused to enter a plea. The law provided for the application of a form of torture
called peine fort et dure, in which the victim was slowly crushed by piling stones
on him; after three days of excruciating pain, Cory died without entering a plea.
Though his refusal to plead is often explained as a way of preventing his possessions
from being confiscated by the state, this is not true; the possessions of convicted
witches were often not confiscated, and possessions of persons accused but not
convicted were often confiscated before a trial, as in the case of John Proctor
and the wealthy Englishes of Salem Town. Some historians hypothesize that his
personal character, a stubborn and lawsuit-prone old man who knew he was going
to be convicted regardless, led to his recalcitrance. Regardless
of the possible implications of such actions, his fellow inhabitants of Ipswich
supported him after his arrest:
for John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor:|
The Humble, & Sincere Declaration
of us, Subscribers, Inhabitants, in Ipswich, on the behalf of o'r Neighb'rs Jno
Procter & his wife now in Trouble & und'r Suspition of Witchcraft.
Too the Hon'rable Court of Assistants now Sitting In Boston.
Hon'red & Right Worshipfull!
The foresd John Procter may have Great Reason to Justifie the Divine Sovereigntie
of God under thos Severe Remarques of Providence upon his Peac & Hon'r und'r
a due Reflection upon his Life Past: And so the Best of us have Reason to Adoar
the Great Pittie & Indulgenc of Gods Providenc, that we are not Exposed to
the utmost shame, that the Divell can Invent und'r the p'rmissions of Sovereigntie,
tho not for that Sin fore Named; yet for o'r many Transgretions; for we Do at
present Suppose that it may be A Method w'thin the Seveerer But Just Transaction
of the Infinite Majestie of God: that he some times may p'rmitt Sathan to p'rsonate,
Dissemble, & therby abuse Inocents, & such as Do in the fear of God Defie
the Devill and all his works. The Great Rage he is p'rmitted to attempt holy Job
w'th The Abuse he Does the famous Samuell, in Disquieting his Silent Dust, by
Shaddowing his venerable P'rson in Answer to theharmes of WitchCraft, & other
Instances from Good hands; may be arg'd Besides the unsearcheable foot stepps
of Gods Judgments that are brought to Light Every Morning that Astonish o'r weaker
Reasons, To teach us Adoration, Trembling. & Dependanc, &ca but
We must not Trouble y'r Honr's by Being Tedious, Therefore we being Smitten with
the Notice of what hath happened, we Recoon it w'thin the Duties of o'r Charitie,
That Teacheth us to do, as we would be done by; to offer thus much for the Clearing
of o'r Neighb'rs Inocencie; viz: That we never had the Least Knowledge of such
a Nefarious wickedness in o'r said Neighbours, since they have been w'thin our
acquaintance; Neither doe we rememberany such Thoughts in us Concerning
them; or any Action by them or either of them Directly tending that way; no more
than might be in the lives of any other p'rsons of the Clearest Reputation as
to Any such Evills. What God may have Left them to, we Cannot Go into Gods pavillions
Cloathed w'th Cloudes of Darknesse Round About.
But as to what we have ever seen, or heard of themupon o'r Consciences we
Judge them Innocent of the crime objected.
His Breading hath been Amongst us; and was of Religious Parents in o'r place;
& by Reason of Relations, & Proprties w'thin o'r Towne hath had Constant
Intercourse w'th us
We speak upon o'r p'rsonall acquaintance, & observations: & so Leave our
Neighbours, & this our Testimonie on their Behalfe to the wise Thoughts of
y'r Honours, & Subscribe &c.
*Jno Wise *William Story Sen'r *Thos Chote *John Burnum sr *William Thomsonn.
*Tho. Low Sanor *Isaac Foster *John Burnum jun'r *William Goodhew *John Cogswell
*Thomas Andrews *Joseph Andrews *Benjamin marshall *Isaac perkins *Nathanill Perkins
*Thomas Lovkine *William Cogswell *Thomas Varny *John fellows *William Cogswell
se *Jonathan Cogswell *John Cogswell Ju *John Andrews *John Chote se'r *Joseph
prockter *Samuell Gidding *John Andrews Ju'r *William Butler *William Andrews
*Joseph Euleth. *Jems White
(Reverse) Petition in favor of John Proctor & wife ( Essex County Archives,
SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 17 )
the 23rd of July in 1692, fearing that they could not get a fair trial in Salem
village, John Proctor and other prisoners wrote a letter from prison to the Reverend
Increase Mather, James Allen, Joshua Moody, Samuel Willard, and John Bayley, the
clergy of Boston, who were known to be uneasy with the witchcraft proceedings.
In his letter he asked them to intervene to either have the trials moved to Boston
or have new judges appointed. After the trial and execution of Rebecca Nurse,
the prospects of those still in prison waiting trial were grim. If a person with
a reputation as untarnished as hers could be executed, there was little hope for
any of the other accused, which is why Proctor made his request. With the present
judges, who were already convinced of guilt, the trial would just be a formality.
July 23, 1692.|
Mr. Mather, Mr. Allen, Mr. Moody, Mr. Willard,
and Mr. Bailey
Reverend Gentlemen. The innocency of our Case
with the Enmity of our Accusers and our Judges, and Jury, whom nothing but our
Innocent blood will serve their turn, having Condmened us already before our Tryals,
being so much incensed and engaged against us by the Devil, makes us bold to Beg
and Implore your Favourable Assistance of this our Humble Petition to his Excellency,
That if it be possible our Innocent Blood may be spared, which undoubtedly otherwise
will be shed, if the Lord doth not mercifully step in. The Magistrates, Ministers,
Jewries, and all the People in general, being so much inraged and incensed against
us by the Delusion of the Devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know
in our own Consciences, we are all Innocent Persons. here are five Persons who
have lately confessed themselves to be Witches, and do accuse some of us, of being
along with them at a Sacrament, since we were committed into close Prison, which
we know to be Lies. Two of the 5 are (Carriers Sons) Youngmen, who would not confess
any thing till they tyed them Neck and Heels till the Blood was ready to come
out of their Noses, and 'tis credibly believed and reported this was the occasion
of making them confess that they never did, by reason they said one had been a
Witch a Month, another five Weeks, and that their Mother had made them so, who
has been confined here this nine Weeks. My son William Proctor, when he was examin'd,
because he would not confess that he was Guilty, when he was Innocent, they tyed
him Neck and Heels till the Blood gushed out of his Nose, and would have kept
him so 24 Hours, if one more Merciful than the rest, had not taken pity on him,
and caused him to be unbound. These actions are very like the Popish Cruelties.
They have already undone us in our Estates, and that will not serve their turns,
without our Innocent Bloods. If it cannot be granted that we can have our Trials
at Boston, we humbly beg that you would endeavour to have these Magistrates changed,
and others in their rooms, begging also and beseeching you would be pleased to
be here, if not all, some of you at our Trials, hoping thereby you may be the
means of saving the shedding our Innocent Bloods, desiring your Prayers to the
Lord in our behalf, we rest your Poor Afflicted Servants,
JOHN PROCTOR, etc.
response to Proctor's letter, in which he describes certain torture that was used
to elicit confessions, eight ministers, including Increase Mather, met at Cambridge
on August 1. Little is known about this meeting, except that when they had emerged,
they had drastically changed their position on spectral evidence. The ministers
decided in the meeting that the Devil could take on the form of innocent people.
The letter influenced the Boston clergy to take action and stop the Salem madness
and, hopefully, saved other lives. But it didn't help the Proctors much. John
was tried on the 5th of August in 1692:
v. John 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 psents That: John Procter of Salem Husbandman in the County of
Essex: the Eleventh Day of Aprill in the fourth Year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne
Lord & 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 Acts, called Witchcraft
and Sorceries, Wickedly. and felloniously hath. used: Practised and Exercised
at and within the Towneship of Salem in the County of Essex aforesd. in upon,
and ag't one Mary Wolcott of Salem Villiage in the County of Essex Single Womanby
which said wicked Arts the said:Mary Wolcott the II'th Day of Aprill in the Year
abovesaid and Divers other Dayes and times as well before. as after was and is
Tortured, Afflicted, Pined, Consumed wasted, and tormented, ag't the Peace of
our Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King and Queen, and ag't the form of the Statute
in that case made and provided Witnesses. Mary Wolcot Jurat; Mercy Lewis Jurat;
Ann Putman Jurat; (O. R.) No. 1 Jno Procter Ignoramos Procter & wife ( Essex
County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 14 )
v. John 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 pr'sents That
John Procter of Salem in the County of Essex, in New England husbandman the II'th
Day of Aprill. in the forth Year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord and Lady
William & Mary by the Grace of God of England Scottland France & Ireland
King and Queen Defenders of the faith &c and Divers other Dayes and times
as well before as after certaine Detestable Arts called witchcrafts and Sorceries
wickedly and felloniously hath used Practised and Exercised at and within the
Towneship of Salem in the County of Essex aforesd. in upon and ag't one Mercey
Lewis of Salem Villiage in the County of Essex afores'd Singlewomanby which
said wicked arts the said Mercy Lewis the II'th Day of Aprill in the forth Year
abovesd and divers other Days 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 John Procter Committed and done before and since that time
ag't the Peace of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady the King & Queen, and ag't
the form of the Statute in that case made and Provided: Witnesses Mercy Lewis
[unclear: ] Sworne Ann Putman (Reverse) Jno Procter No 2 On M: Lewis bil a vera"
( Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 14 )
v. John Proctor, No. 3:
"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 pr'sents That
John Procter of Salem in the County of Essex husbandman the 26'th Day of March
in the fourth Year of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady William &
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 Witchcrafts and Sorceries Wickedly and
felloniously hath used, Practised and Excercised at, and within the Township of
Salem in the County of Essex afores'd in, Upon & ag't one Mary Warren of Salem
in the County of Essex Singlewomanby which said wicked arts the said Mary
Warren the Twenty Sixth Day of March in the fourth Year abovesaid and Divers other
Dayes & times as well before, as after, was and is Tortured, Afflicted, Pined:
Consumed, wasted and Tormented, ag't the Peace of our Sovereigne Lord & Lady
the King and Queen and agt. the form of the Statute in that case made and Provided.
Witnesses Mary Warren Jurat. Mary Walcott Jurat. (Reverse) bil a vera No. 3. Jno
Procter Ind't up'n M: Wa: ( Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol.
1 Page 14 )
Examination of John Proctor and John Willard:
"We whose names under written haveing searched the bodyes of John procter
sen'r & John Williard now in the Goale & doe not find any thing to farther
suspect them. Dated June 2, 1692 Rondel ap're testis (signed) John Rogers, Joshua
Rea Jun'r, John Cooke, J. Barton Chyrg'n, Jno Gyles, William Hine, Ezekiel Cheever
(Reverse) Return of Doctor Barton & other men that Search't Willard &
Procter ( Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 15 )
family in particular seemed to persecuting the Proctorsthe Putnams.
The young Ann Putnam Jr. was the daughter of Thomas Putnam and Ann Putnam, Sr.
She is listed in every account as one of the "afflicted girls" and her
name appears over 400 times in the court documents. She was twelve years old when
the Salem Witch Trials began in 1692. By the time they were over, she had accused
nineteen people, and had seen eleven of them hanged.
history has painted Ann and her young peers as selfish, vicious fakers who fueled
the witchcraft trials out of boredom or spite. This portrait, however, is somewhat
flawed as it appears that, in Ann's case at least, the parents of the afflicted
must have had a strong influence with the child, as did the other adult accusers.
Initially, Ann was fed names by her parents and minister. Her father was an influential
church leader and became an aggressive accuser of witches. The influence of the
Putnams became evident as the trials went on. Most of the afflicted and
the accusers had some kind of a relationship with the Putnams. A great number
of those accused by the Putnams previously had disputes with the family.
Proctor was a successful farmer, entrepreneur, and tavern keeper who lived far
from Salem Village center, on the edge of Salem Town. He had never been directly
involved in Salem Village politics or litigation with the Putnams, but his interests
were diametrically opposed to those of the old, established village elite. He
had risen to considerable wealth and prestige. But to the Putnams, with their
defensive, inflexible outlook, Proctor and his wife remained hated outsiders.
Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam, Jr. were too young to testify,
their accusations had to be endorsed by adults in the village, including Mr. Putnam
and other leaders in Salem Village church.
Putnam, Jr. v. John Proctor:
"The Deposistion of Ann putnam Jun'r who testifieth and saith I have often
seen the Apperishtion of Jno procktor senr. amongst the wicthes but he did not
doe me much hurt tell a little before his examination which was on the IIth of
April 1692 and then he sett upon me most grevi#[vi] ously and did tortor me most
dreadfully also in the time of his examination he afflected me very much: and
severall times sence the Apperishtion of John procktor senr, has most greviously
tortored me by pinching and allmost choaking me urging me vehemently to writ in
his book also on the day of his examination I saw the Apperishtion of Jno: proctor
senr goe and afflect and most greviously tortor the bodys of Mistris pope mary
walcott Mircy lewes. Abigail williams and Jno: Indian. and he and his wife and
Sarah Cloys keept Elizabeth Hubburd speachless all the time of their examination.
mark Ann putnam. Ann Putman owned what is above written upon oath before and unto
the Grand inquest on the 30'th Day of June 1692. (Reverse) Ann puttnam ag't John
procter" (Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft Vol. 1 Page 15)
Putnam and John Putnam, Jr. v. John Proctor:
"The Deposistion of Thomas putnam agged 40 years and Jno. putnam aged 36
years who testifieth and saith that we haveing ben conversant with divrs of the
afflected parsons as mary walcott mercy lewes Abigail williams and Ann putnam
and Elizabeth Hubbert, and have seen them most greviously tormented and often
complaining of John proctor, for hurting them also on the II'th of April 1692
being the day of John proctors examination the affore named parsons ware much
afflected dureing the time of his examination: also severall times sence we have
seen the affore said parsons most dreadfully afflected and complaining of John
proctor for hurting them and we veryly beleve that John proctor the prisoner att
the barr has many times afflected and tormented the affore said parsons by acts
of witchcraft (signed) *Thomas putnam. *Jon Putnam. Jurat in Curia. (Reverse)
Thomas Putman Jon Putman John Proctor" ( Essex County Archives, SalemWitchcraft
Vol. 1 Page 15 )
court performances became notorious. She and the other girls would fall to the
ground and writhe as if in agony, claiming that the specters of the accused were
tormenting them. She would scream that she was being pinched or bitten, choked
or that her life was being threatened if she did not sign the Devil's book. As
often happened in the course of the Salem episode, there was little other evidence
to convict. Consciously or unconsciously, Ann stuck pins into herself on more
than one occasion, claiming that the it was done by the specters of the accused.
The accused were presumed guilty from the start, and as John predicted, the outcome
was that innocent blood was shedbuckets
the 19th of August, John Proctor, George Burroughs, George Jacobs Sr., John Willard,
and Martha Carrier were hanged at Gallows Hill. John pleaded at his execution
for a little respite of time. He claimed he was not fit to die. His plea was,
of course, unsuccessful. In seventeenth-century society, it would not have been
uncommon for a man so violently tempered as Proctor to feel that he had not yet
made peace with his fellow man or his God. In addition, it is thought that he
died inadequately reconciled to his wife, since he left her out of the will that
he drew up in prison (and was currently pregnant). But as with all of the "Salem
Witches", you will not find a vital record of John's death anywhere. Once
executed, it was as though a convicted witch never existed.
the reportage that remains is the word of Thomas Brattle, in a 1692 letter, who
had the following to say about John Proctor and the other accused witches.
seemed to be very sincere, upright, and sensible of their circumstances on all
accounts; especially [John] Proctor and [John] Willard, whose whole management
of themselves, from the Goal [jail] to the Gallows, and whilst at the Gallows,
was very affecting and melting to the hearts of some considerable Spectatours,
whom I could mention to you:but they are executed, and so I leave them..."
[p. 177] |
executed "witches" were thrown into shallow holes in the ledge under
Gallows Hill. Some brave members of the Proctor family located John's body and
removed it, secretly burying it on the grounds of their homestead (which they
no longer legally owned). As for Elizabeth, since she was pregnant at the time
of her condemnation, she was able to avoid execution at her appointed time, and
gave birth to a child two weeks after John's execution. Thus, her unborn child
saved her life. In May of 1683, Govenor Phips pardoned the remaining accused of
witchcraft. 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. On
December 17, 1710, 578 pounds and 12 shillings was paid to her in restitution
for her husband's death.
Discomfort over the trials had been
growing, both within Salem Village and in the wider community, including, among
others, the Boston clergyman Increase Mather and the new governor, William Phips.
Although few questioned the reality of witchcraft, many were troubled with the
chaotic proceedings in Salem. In early October, the governor forbade further trials.
In January 1693, he formed a new court, which, working under stricter evidentiary
guidelines, acquitted forty-nine out of fifty-two prisoners; the rest were discharged
by spring. Accusations of witchcraft decreased dramatically thereafter throughout
The land suffered along with the people. Crops
went untended, cattle uncared for. Often, accused people who had not yet been
arrested gathered up their most portable belongings and fled to New York, or beyond.
Sawmills, their owners missing or distracted, their workers arrested or gawking
at the spectacles at the jails or in the meetinghouses, sat idle. Commerce ground
to, if not a halt, at least a snail's pace. And there was news of further Indian
unrest to the west.
The witch trials ended in October 1692,
although people already jailed for witchcraft were not all released until the
next spring. Officially, the royal appointed governor of Massachusetts, Sir William
Phips, ended them after an appeal by Boston-area clergy headed by Increase Mather,
"Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits," published October 3,
1692. In it, Increase Mather stated "It were better that Ten Suspected Witches
should escape, than that the Innocent Person should be Condemned." Echoes
of this phrase can be found in the United States of America's innocent-until-proven-guilty
judicial system of today.
This incident was so profound that
it helped end the influence of the Puritan faith on the governing of New England,
and led indirectly to the founding principles of the United States of America.
it is generally accepted that the Salem trials were one of the defining moments
that changed American jurisprudence from the English system of "guilty, 'til
proven innocent" to the current American system of "innocent until proven
guilty". In addition, the jury pool in trials was changed from "church-members
only" to "all those who have property" in an act which was passed
by the General Court on 25 November 1692. Finally, these cases caused Americans
to take their first steps away from what we now know as "cruel & unusual
punishment" when trying to get someone to confess. It had been a staple of
the English legal system, but after 1692 even Cotton Mather urged judges to use
"Crosse and Swift Questions" rather than physical torture to gain the
truth. These were three significant changes to the nascent American legal system.
In May of 1693, Governor Phips pardoned the remaining accused of witchcraft.
later, in 1706, Ann Putnam Jr. stood with head bowed before the village church
congregation, and the new minister, the Rev. Joseph Green, read aloud her confession
(she was the only one of the afflicted girls to make such a retraction). In this
document, which was likely written by Rev. Green, Ann begged forgiveness for her
part in the trials, saying that she was "deluded by the Devil" and wished
"to lie in the dust." She said, "it was a great delusion of Satan
that deceived me in that sad time, whereby I justly fear that I have been instrumental,
with others, though ignorantly and unwitting, to bring upon myself and this land
the guilt of innocent blood."
After the trials, many
of the Proctors left the Puritan church behind and married into Quaker families.
John and Elizabeth's daughter, SARAH PROCTOR, fortunately survived the with trials
(she was not the Sarah who was put on trial), and on the 23rd of October, 1700,
in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, married EDWARD MUNYAN
(b: ABT 1677 in Salem). They had several children, one of them being our ancestor.
OF EDWARD MUNNION AND SARAH PROCTOR
MUNYAN b: 1712 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts (see MUNYAN).|
MUNYAN b: ABT 1714 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Married Benjamin MACINTIRE
on 14 Jan 1736 in Killingly, Windham, Connecticut.|
MUNYAN b: ABT 1716 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.|
moved to Connecticut, where Sarah died in 1744 in Killingly, Windham County. Edward
died there a few years later, on the 26th of January, 1747/1748. They're buried
together in Old East Cemetery, in Thompson, Windham county, Connecticut. The Munyons
married into the Potter family, who married into the
Winters family, who married into the Pritchards,
who married into the Wenks.
the Proctor story doesn't end there: A short
story about them by author Mary E. Wilkins Freeman appeared in 1892. Then
John Proctor was made famous by Arthur Miller, who used John and Elizabeth as
the main characters in his play, The Crucible. Although his character in
The Crucible is one of main significance, he is not portrayed in an historically
accurate manner, though certain features of Proctor prevail and are consistent
with the record:
Proctor's legacy is remembered in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible. In
this fictionalized, lusted-up retelling of the Proctor case, John has an affair
with a servant girl named Abigail Williams (apparently Miller was unaware of the
family motto). Then John's wife, Elizabeth, casts Abigail out of their household
after learning of the affair. When Abigail tries to send Elizabeth to the gallows
by calling her a witch, John brings another girl, Mary Warren, to testify against
hesitates before finally telling the court that Abigail is covering up their affair.
But as Elizabeth's case looks worse and worse, he finally admits
to having had relations with Abigail, ruining his good reputation forever. Abigail
denies the claim, and so Elizabeth Proctor is called in to testify. Trying to
protect her husband's name, and believing that her husband's actions were her
fault, Elizabeth does not confess to her husband's acts of lechery. Reverend John
Hale tries to convince the court that Abigail and the other girls are lying, but
Abby pretends to be afflicted by a spell from Mary Warren. Judge Danforth falls
for the ploy, and Mary Warren, in a last ditch effort to save herself, blames
John Proctor, calling him the devil's man. John is then convicted of witchcraft,
and cries out, "God is Dead!" He signs a confession so as not to hang,
but then refuses to let the paper be shown to the public. He ends up going to
the gallows and hanging, because he refuses to lie for his life, thinking that
it would desecrate the brave, truthful lives already extinguished. Although these
events did not happen during the real Salem witch trials, Proctor's character
was definitely inspired by the farmer with the same name who was hanged during
PROCTOR, SR. (1595 - 1672 ) married MARTHA (1608 - 1659) and begat...
PROCTOR, JR. (1632 - 1692) married ELIZABETH BASSETT
(1650 - 1693) and begat...
SARAH PROCTOR (1676 - 1744) who married EDWARD
MUNYAN (1677 - 1747) and had...
JOSEPH MUNYAN (1712 - 1797), who married
SARAH JOSLIN (b. 1722) and begat...
(d. 1831), who married MARY MARSH (1750 - 1820) and begat...
AMASA MUNYAN (b. 1800), who married SUSANNA HENNING
(1802 - 1821) and begat...
MARY ANN MUNYAN (1823 - 1899) married WILLIAM
POTTER (1819 - 1894) and begat...
LOUISA EDITH POTTER (1856 - 1891)
who married ABRAHAM CANE WINTERS (1829 - 1893) and
WINTERS (1885 - 1974) who married WILLIAM PRITCHARD
(1880 - 1958) and begat...
PRITCHARD (b. 1918) who married ERWIN
WENK (1910 - 1982) and begat...
MARTHA WENK (b. 1940) who married CARLETON
MARCHANT HAUSE, JR. (b. 1939) and begat...
JEFF (who married LORI ANN DOTSON), KATHY (who married HAL
LARSEN), ERIC (who married MARY
MOONSAMMY), and MICHELE HAUSE (who married JOHN SCOTT HOUSTON).
P. Upham. House of John Proctor,
Witchcraft Martyr, 1692. Peabody: Press of C.H. Shepard, 1904. 21 pages.
Saunders Smith. The Founders
of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Pittsfield, Mass. Press of the Sun Printing
Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum. Salem Possessed, 1974.
Arthur. The Crucible, 1952.
Rosenthal, Salem Story, 1993.
Hill, A Delusion Of Satan, The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials.
Charles W. Salem Witchcraft. University of Virginia E-text Center, 2002.
Cemetery Inscriptions; Hale Collection; pg 56; FHL film #0003365; Ancestral File,
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
First Families" compiled by E. D. Larned; Munyan Families; FHL film #2972
Biographical Record of Windham and Tolland Counties; pg 122 8; FHL film #982,349;
Ancestral File; Family History Library, LDS Church
Records of Lynn, Essex, MA; FHL film #0547549 1635-1885