The 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 procurare—‘to 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.
   The 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."
   John Sr. 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 tongue—that would eventually lead to his death.
   John 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:


  • WILLIAM PROCTOR, b: 6 Feb 1675 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.
  • SARAH PROCTOR, b: 28 Jan 1676 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. (Family listed below.)
  • SAMUEL PROCTOR b: 11 Jan 1687 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Married Sarah BRACKETT.
  • ELISHA PROCTOR b: 28 Apr 1687 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Death: 11 Nov 1688 in Salem, Essex, MA.
  • ABIGAIL PROCTOR b: 27 Jan 1689 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.
  • JOHN PROCTOR III b: 27 Jan 1693 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Named after his executed father. Married and died @ 1745.
  •    In 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 witchcraft—a charge that would haunt Elizabeth and her children.
       Many 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.
       There 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.
       There 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.
       Perhaps 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.
       In 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 names—identifying 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.
       The 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 Native American.
       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.”

    Daniel 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.)
       Then 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:

    Q. 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.—
    Q. Ann Putnam, does she hurt you?—
    She could not speak.—
    Q. Abigail Williams! does she hurt you?—
    Her hand was thrust in her own mouth.—
    Q. John! does she hurt you?
    A. This is the woman that came in her shift and choaked me.
    Q. did she ever bring the book?
    A. Yes, Sir.
    Q. What to do?
    A. To write.
    Q. What, this woman?
    A. Yes, Sir.
    Q. Are you sure of it?
    A. Yes, Sir.
    -- 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.
    Q. 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.
    Q. Ann 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?
    A. Yes, Sir, often.
    Q. Does she bring the book to you?
    A. Yes.
    Q. What would she have you do with it?
    A. To write in it and I shall be well.—
    Did 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.—
    Q. What do you say Goodman Proctor to these things?
    A. I know not, I am innocent.—
    Abigail 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
    Williams cried 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.—
    Benjamin 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 thursday night.—
    Elizabeth Hubbard was in a trance durning the whole examination.—
    During 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 sunk down.
    Salem, April 11th, 1692. Mr. Samuel Parris was desired by the honourable
    Thomas 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.
    John Hawthorne,
    John Corwin, Assistants. [Thomas Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts-Bay, II, 21-23]

       Proctor 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 spectral—the afflicted girls claimed the Proctor’s apparitions, or specters, were tormenting them. The Proctors' servant, Mary Warren—who herself would later be named as a witch—accused 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.

    Mary 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 15 )

    Mary 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 16 )

       On 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.
       On 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, and Boston.
       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:

    Petition 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 remember—any 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 them—upon 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 17 )

       On 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.

    SALEM-PRISON, 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.

       In 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:

    Indictment 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 Woman—by 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 14 )

    Indictment 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 Singlewoman—by 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 14 )

    Indictment 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 Singlewoman—by 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 14 )

    Physical 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 15 )

       One family in particular seemed to persecuting the Proctors—the 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.
    Common 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 Putnam’s became evident as the trials went on. Most of the afflicted and the accusers had some kind of a relationship with the Putnam’s. A great number of those accused by the Putnam’s previously had disputes with the family.
    John 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.
    Because 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.

    Ann 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 15)

    Thomas 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, Salem—Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 15 )

       Ann's 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 shed—buckets of it.
    On 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.
       All 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.

    "...[they] 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]

       The 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 New England.
       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.
       Regardless, 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.
       Years 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


  • JOSEPH MUNYAN b: 1712 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts (see MUNYAN).
  • KEZIA MUNYAN b: ABT 1714 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts. Married Benjamin MACINTIRE on 14 Jan 1736 in Killingly, Windham, Connecticut.
  • SARAH MUNYAN b: ABT 1716 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts.
  •    They 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.
       But 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:

    John 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 Abigail. John 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 the trials.


    JOHN PROCTOR, SR. (1595 - 1672 ) married MARTHA (1608 - 1659) and begat...

    JOHN 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...

    JOSEPH MUNYAN (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 begat...

    NELLE WINTERS (1885 - 1974) who married WILLIAM PRITCHARD (1880 - 1958) and begat...

    DOROTHY 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).


    • Wm. P. Upham. House of John Proctor, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692. Peabody: Press of C.H. Shepard, 1904. 21 pages.
    • Sarah Saunders Smith. The Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Pittsfield, Mass. Press of the Sun Printing Company, 1897.
    • Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum. Salem Possessed, 1974.
    • Miller, Arthur. The Crucible, 1952.
    • Bernard Rosenthal, Salem Story, 1993.
    • Frances Hill, A Delusion Of Satan, The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials.
    • Upham, Charles W. Salem Witchcraft. University of Virginia E-text Center, 2002.
    • Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions; Hale Collection; pg 56; FHL film #0003365; Ancestral File, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
    • "Thompsons First Families" compiled by E. D. Larned; Munyan Families; FHL film #2972
    • "Commemorative Biographical Record of Windham and Tolland Counties; pg 122 8; FHL film #982,349;
    • Ancestral File; Family History Library, LDS Church
    • Marriage Records of Lynn, Essex, MA; FHL film #0547549 1635-1885