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An American Family History

Proctor Family

 

 

 
     
 

 
     
 

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Essex County, Massachusetts was created on May 10, 1643 by the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when it ordered "that the whole plantation within this jurisdiction be divided into four sheires."

Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical ..., Volume 9

The Proctor family in this country is descended from John Proctor, who came in 1635 from London, in the ship Susan and Anne, at the age of forty, with his wife Martha, aged twenty eight, and two children, — John, aged three years, and Mary, aged one year. He settled in Ipswich, and later removed to Salem. He died, probably in 1672, as his will was proved in November of that year. He left seven children.

His son, John [Proctor], born in England about 1632, married, in 1662, Elizabeth Thorndyke, and after her death married Elizabeth Bassett. He had nine children.

During the excitement relating to witchcraft in 1691 and 1692 his second wife was accused of being a witch, and was brought to trial and condemned. Her husband, "for showing proper regard to her," as Hutchinson says, fell under suspicion of the same crime, and was also tried and condemned. (See Hutchinson, vol. ii, pp. 25 and 55.) He was put to death August 19, on what is now known as Gallows Hill, Salem.

His wife was reprieved on account of her pregnancy, and before the reprieve expired, the excitement had so far subsided that she was not executed. Two, or perhaps three, of their children were also sent to prison under suspicion of the same crime, but they were discharged without a public trial. Four years later the Legislature had to be petitioned to order the release of her husband's property from forfeiture. (See Felt, vol. ii, 484.) It has been suggested that the charge of witchcraft was brought against Mr. Proctor on account of his sturdy opposition to the views then prevailing in respect to witchcraft. Dr. Nichols, who wrote the historical poem for the Centennial day of the town of South Danvers, has this couplet of the Proctor family:

The Proctors, they say,
Will have their own way.

The Salem witch trials were between February, 1692 and May, 1693.