John Proctor
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John Proctor (bef. 1631 - 1692)

John Proctor aka Procktor, Prockter, Procter
Born before in Assington, Suffolk, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 1651 (to 13 Jun 1659) in Ipswich, Essex, Massachusettsmap
Husband of — married Dec 1662 (to 30 Aug 1672) in Massachusettsmap
Husband of — married 1 Apr 1674 in Salem Village, Ipswich, Essex, MAmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Salem, Essex County, Province of Massachusetts Baymap
Profile last modified | Created 6 Jun 2011
This page has been accessed 11,287 times.
The Puritan Great Migration.
John Proctor migrated to New England during the Puritan Great Migration (1620-1640).
Join: Puritan Great Migration Project
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Contents

Biography

John Proctor was executed for witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials


Life

John Proctor was born the oldest child of John Proctor and his wife Martha. His baptism was 9 October 1631, in Assington, Suffolk, England.[1] The senior John Proctor brought his family to America in 1635 on the Susan and Ellen, and they settled in Ipswich Massachusetts.[2]

John Proctor Sr died possessing a good estate over £1000 in value, most of it in land.[3] His son John prospered likewise, and in 1666 he removed from Ipswich to Salem Village, where he leased the former Downing farm, the Downing family by then having returned to England. Shortly after taking possession, John Proctor petitioned for a license to sell strong waters.
I live at Mr Downing's farm which is in the common roadway, which occasioneth sever travellers to call in for some refreshment as they pass along and finding it like to be very chargable in case I should continue to accomodate such upon free cost, do earnestly request you that you would be pleased to grant me the liberty to set up a house of entertainment and to sell strong water only to strangers.[4]
Between the farm and the roadhouse, run by his third wife Elizabeth after 1674, his estate continued to grow.

John Proctor was probably married three times (see Disputed Marriage note below.)

First, to Martha _____, about 1651. Martha w. John died 13 Jun 1659.[5]

  • Martha d/o John Jr. died 14 Oct 1658[5]
  • John s/o John Jr. died Oct 1658.[5]
  • Mary Prockter d. of John b. 1 Jan 1657.[6] Mary Prockter, d. John,died Feb. —, 1657, in Ipswich.[5]
  • Benjamin Prockter, s. John, was born June 10, 1659 in Ipswich.[6] He was an executor of his father's will.[7] The only surviving child of Martha's marriage was Benjamin Proctor (also accused),

Second, to Elizabeth Thorndike, 1 Dec 1662. She died 30 6m 1672 at Salem.[8]Children of this marriage:

  • Elizabeth, named in the distribution of her fathers estate c. 1694; another document in the records states she m. Thomas Very[7] b. c. 1663[9]
  • Martha Prockter, d. of John b. 1 Apr 1665 in Ipswich.[6] Martha d. 10 May 1665.[5]
  • Martha - b. 4 June 1666[10]Martha Proctor, d. of Sister Proctor of Ipsw[ich] church, bp. 19: 6 m: 1666. C. R. 1.[10] Named in the distribution of father's estate, c. 1694.[7]
  • Mary, d. John and Elizabeth, late of Ipswich, Oct. 20, 1667.[10] Mary died 15 Feb 1667 [1667/8].[8]
  • John Procter - b. 28 Oct 1668[10] Executor of his father's estate.[7]
  • Mary Procter, d. John and Elizabeth, 30: 11 m: 1669.[10] Named in the distribution of father's estate, c. 1694.[7]
  • Thorndike Procter - b. 15 July 1672, Salem[10], Named in the distribution of father's estate, c. 1694.[7] Elizabeth died from complications of childbirth

Third, to Elizabeth Bassett, 1 Apr 1674. Children of this marriage:

  • William Procter, s. John and Elizabeth (Bassett), 6: 12 m: 1674.[1674/5] Salem[10],Named in the distribution of father's estate, c. 1694.[7]
  • Sarah Procter,, d. John and Elizabeth (Bassett), Jan. 28, 1676. Salem[10], Named in the distribution of father's estate, c. 1694.[7] m. Edward Munnion of Lynn 23 Oct 1700[9]
  • Samuel Procter, s. John and Elizabeth (Bassett), 11 Jan 1685,[1685/6] Salem.[10], Named in the distribution of father's estate, c. 1694.[7]
  • Elisha Procter, s. John and Elizabeth (Bassett), 28 Apr 1687 Salem.[10],Elisha, s. John and Elizabeth (Bassett), 11:9 m: 1688[8]
  • Abigail Procter, d. John and Elizabeth (Bassett), Jan. 27, 1689.[10]
  • John b. 27 Jan 1692/3[9]
  • Joseph is named in the distribution of his father's estate. He was younger than Benjamin and John (b. 1668)[7] He was not mentioned by Perley[9] Perhaps in the gap between Sarah and Samuel?
  • Elizabeth named in the distribution of John's estate. On the right side of the distribution, John was to distribute to ???? very(?) If this is the daughter Elizabeth of the 2nd wife who married Thomas Very. Then who is the Elizabeth named between Sarah and Abigail. Henry Waters believed this to be another Elizabeth born to the third wife of John.[11]

Disputed Marriage

The marriage of John Proctor and Martha _____ has been a matter of dispute. Torrey and Savage claimed that John Proctor Sr had married a second wife Martha, perhaps Martha Giddings or some variation on that spelling, sister of George Giddings whom he called "my brother", after the death of his first wife Martha Harpur. See: "Giddings-Proctor Addendum" to "The English Origins of George Giddings" NEHGR vol 135, p. 285.[11]

More recently, this Martha, still carrying the name Giddings, has been seen instead as the first wife of John Proctor Jr. This can be easily disposed of as genealogical gap filling. George's sister Martha was too old to be the spouse of John Proctor Jr.

William White and John Proctor are referred to as father and son in 1659,[12] causing a lot of speculation about this relationship.

William White was not his father by blood. He was not his stepfather since John Proctor Sr. was still living. According to Anderson,[2] John Proctor Jr's first wife was almost certainly a daughter or stepdaughter of William White of Ipswich.
or
William may have had a daughter, Martha White, by his first wife, who married John Proctor Jr.
or
William was the step-father of John Proctor Jr.'s wife, a daughter of John Jackson
John Jackson died intestate in 1648, and the Essex court distributed his estate to "wife Kathren", a son, and five daughters unnamed, all of whom had not been married or reached the age of 21 by that date.[13] By this time, the widow was already apparently married again, to William White.

Condemnation and Death

In 1692, a number of young girls in Salem Village began to exhibit disturbing behavior, which was interpreted as demonic possession in consequence of witchcraft. One of these was Mary Warren, the Proctor maidservant. John Proctor allegedly beat the girl to stop her behavior and declared that the other accusers should be whipped as well. A witness, Sam Sibley, testified:
Proctor replied if they were let alone so we should all be Devils & witches quickly they should rather be had to the whipping post but he would fetch his jade home & thresh the Devil out of her & more to the like purpose, crying hang them, hang them. And also added that when she [Warren] was first taken with fits he kept her close to the [spinning] wheel & threatened to thresh her, & then she had no more fits till the next day he was gone forth, & then she must have her fits again firsooth.”[14]

As the hysteria spread more persons were accused of bewitching the girls, among them Elizabeth Bassett Proctor. When John Proctor denounced the accusers and defended his wife, he was likewise accused, the first male to be arrested. Proctor had a known history of intemperate outbursts; in 1659, he was fined for "reviling speeches".[15] According to Upham,[16]"He was bold in his spirit and his language,- an upright man no doubt, as the whole tone of the memorials of him indicate, but free and imprudent in speech, impulsive in feeling, and sometimes rash in action."

While in prison, John Proctor wrote to a number of the prominent ministers in Boston, protesting the methods of the tribunal in Salem:

SALEM PRISON, July 23, 1692. Mr. Mather, Mr. Allen, Mr. Moody, Mr. Willard and Mr. Bailey; Rev., 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, having condemned us already before our trials, being so much incensed and enraged against us by the Devil, makes us bold to beg and implore your favorable assistance of this one humble petition to his excellency, that if it be possible our innocent blood may be spared, which undoubtedly otherwise may be shed, if the Lord doth not mercifully step in; the magistrates, ministers, juries and all the people in general being so much enraged and incensed against us by the delusion of the Devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know in our own conscience, 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. This we know to be lies. Two of the five, all Curriers sons, young men who would not confess anything till they tied them neck and heels till the blood was ready to come out of their noses, and it is creditably believed and reported, this was the occasion of making them confess what they never did, by reason they said one had been a witch a month, and another five weeks, and that their mother made them so, who has been confined here this nine weeks. My son William Proctor, when he was examined because he would not confess he was guilty, when he was innocent, they tied him neck and heels till the blood gushed out at 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 like the Popish cruelties. They have already undone us, in our estates, and that will not serve them, without our innocent blood. If it cannot be granted that we can have our trials at Boston, we humbly beg that you would endeavor to have those magistrates changed and others in their room, begging also, and beseaching you that 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 of our innocent blood. Desiring your prayers to the Lord in our behalf, we rest your poor afflicted servants. JOHN PROCTOR AND OTHERS.[17]

The ministers met and altered their stand on the nature of spectral evidence, but it was too late for John Proctor, who was hanged 19 August 1692. His wife Elizabeth was also condemned, but, being pregnant, was reprieved until after the birth of her child - by which time the witchcraft hysteria had passed. Some Proctor children - Benjamin, William and Sarah, had also been arrested but were finally released without trial. It was years, however, before they received even partial reparations for their losses.

Probate

Will: "... I John Procter, Senr of Salem, in Essex, in N=England, yeman, ... Sound mind ... I will And Bequeath an Equall proportion of my whole estate, when Justly valued unto Each one of my Children my two Eldest Sons shall have all my Lands Into their shares and what the Land may be vallued ate more then their my two Eldest Sons Equall portion, they my two sons shall pay unto the Rest of my Children; and they my Two Sons viz Benjamin Proctor and John Proctor Junr I do hereby Constitute and appointe to be my Lawfull Executors ... Dated this Second day of August in the year of Grace one Thousand Six hundred Ninety and Two ... 2d August 1692 My request is that my Brother White & Joseph Proctor my Brother be my overseers ..."
Witnessed Joseph Proctor, Phillip ffowler, Thomas Chote.
Sworn to 3 Dec 1694 by Philip Fowler. Joseph Proctor stated that he did not think his Brother John Proctor was of a disposing mine. James White was also present and made oath. and Thomas Chote made oath 10 Dec. The will was proved 22 March 1694.
Inventory: 22 Mar 1694. Land £208
Equal parts of £17. 6. 8 were distributed to Benjamin, Martha, Mary, William, Joseph, Samuel, John, -?-, Thorndike, Sarah, Elizabeth, Abigail [7]

Note that John refers to his Brother White, probably the James White who made oath to his will. James White was married to John's sister Martha.

Other Accounts

Following is the (abbreviated) account of Savage:[18]

JOHN, Ipswich, s. of the preced. b. in Eng. rem. in few yrs. to Salem, perhaps freem. 1690, m. Dec. 1662, Eliz. d. of John Thorndike, had prob. by a sec. w. Eliz. Bassett, m. 1 Apr. 1674, William, b. 6 Feb. foll.; Sarah, 28 Jan. 1677; Samuel, 11 Jan. 1686; Elisha, 28 Apr. 1687,d. next yr.; and Abigail, 27 Jan. 1692; of wh. the eldest two were imprison. in the execrable fanaticism of 1692. These ch. were prob. discharg. without trial; but the mo. was one of the first accus. of witcher. and her h. (to wh. the first w. had brot. ch. Martha, b. 4 June 1666; Mary, 26 Oct. 1667, d. soon; John, 28 Oct. 1668; Mary, again, 30 Jan. 1670; and Thorndike, 15 July 1672, and that w. d. next mo.), for showing proper regard for her, as Hutch. II. 26 and 55 tells, fell under equal suspicion. Both were tried and condemn. on 5th, and on him, 19 Aug. was inflict. the punishm. of death, wh. she escap. by reason of her pregnancy, and bef. the time elaps. in wh. she should have suffer. the power of delusion and the devil passed away. Yet four yrs. later, the wid. had to beseech the legislat. to order relic of her husband's prop. from the forfeiture.

From Hutchinson's History: [19] "Elizabeth Procter was charged about the same time: Her husband, as every good husband would have done, accompanied her to her examination, but it cost the poor man his life. Some of the afflicted cried out upon him also, and they were both committed to prison."

Charles W Upham wrote:[20] (Mary Warren) testified, with the appearance of animosity and vindictiveness, against her master John Procter, and her mistress his wife; thus contributing to secure the conviction of both, and the death of the former." (p. 121)

"John Procter had spoken so boldly against the proceedings, and all who had part in them, that it was felt to be necessary to put him out of the way. He had denounced the entire company of the accusers, and their revenge demanded his sacrifice." (p. 312)

Massachusetts Remediation

  1. 17 October 1710, Convictions Reversed, The General Court of Massachusetts Bay, An act, the several convictions, judgments, and attainders be, and hereby are, reversed, and declared to be null and void.[21]
  2. 17 Dec 1711, Compensation to Survivors, Governor Dudley, GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS BAY, approved compensation to such persons as are living, and to those that legally represent them that are dead [For John Proctor and wife, £150][21]
  3. 28 Aug 1957, No Disgrace to Descendants', General Court of Massachusetts, ...such proceedings, were and are shocking, and the result of a wave of popular hysterical fear of the Devil in the community, and further declares that, as all the laws under which said proceedings...have been long since abandoned and superseded by our more civilized laws, no disgrace or cause for distress attaches to the said descendants or any of them by reason of said proceedings.[22]
  4. 31 Oct 2001, Additional Victims Included, Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives in General Court, AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE WITCHCRAFT TRIAL OF 1692, chapter 145 is hereby further amended by adding Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott and Wilmot Redd.[23]

Sources

  1. England Births and Christenings 1638-1975.[1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Anderson, Robert Charles. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, volume V, M–P. (Boston: NEHGS, 2007).AmericanAncestors.org link.
  3. "Estate of John Proctor, Sr. of Ipswich," Essex County Probate Records, Essex County, MA: Early Probate Records, 1635-1681.Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2015. Vol. 2, pp. 315-6: https://www.americanancestors.org/DB1652/i/33912/315/56272909 (accessed 14 Apr 2017)
  4. Frederick Johnson Simmons. Emanuel Downing. New Jersey: 1958. p. 67.[2]
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Ipswich Vital Records V.2 p. 655.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ipswich.Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). p. 305 https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/7724/305/141483244
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881.Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.) https://www.americanancestors.org/DB515/i/13790/22851-co1/245913001
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Salem Vital Records Vol 6 p. 164
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Perley, Sidney. A History of Salem Massachusetts. Volume II 1638-1670. (1926) p. 23
  10. 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 Salem (vol 2 pp. 200-203) Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 (Online Database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016). https://www.americanancestors.org/DB190/i/7792/203/140898421
  11. Waters, Henry F. "Genealogical Gleanings in England." New England Historical and Genealogical Register 51 (1897) p. 410
  12. Records and files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, Massachusetts Vol II 1656-1662. (1912) pp 153-4
  13. The Probate Records of Essex County. Estate of John Jackson of Ipswich. vol 1, 1635-1664. p. 97.[3]
  14. The Witchcraft Trial of John Proctor.[4]
  15. Great Migration 1634-1635, I-L. (Online database. AmericanAncestors.org. New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.) Originally published as: The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume IV, I-L, by Robert Charles Anderson. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2005.[5]
  16. Charles Wentworth Upham. Salem Witchcraft, vol. 1. 1836. p. 179.[6]
  17. "The Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony" by Sarah Saunders Smith, publ 1897 Press of the Sun Printing Company, Pittsfield, MA [7]
  18. James Savage. A Genealogical Dictionary . . . vol 3. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1860-62. p. 489.[8]
  19. Thomas Hutchinson. The History of the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, vol 2. Boston: 1828. p. 26. [9]
  20. Charles Wentworth Upham. Salem Witchcraft vol 2.[10]
  21. 21.0 21.1 Upham, Charles Wentworth. Salem Witchcraft : with an Account of Salem Village, and a History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects. (1867) v2, page 480.
  22. https://www.mass.gov/doc/resolves-of-1957-chapter-145/download
  23. https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2001/Chapter122

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Comments: 29

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He's my 10th great-grandfather; may he rest in peace.
No, Col. John S. Proctor was married to Mary Ann Watson in Sept 24, 1835. I got this information from the family Bible.
posted by Cherie Kahelski
Dear Shannon Martin I have a HolyBible that apparently belongs to the family of Col. John Proctor born Jan 27, 1811. If your interested in inquiring please email me at cheriekahelski9@ gmail.com.
posted by Cherie Kahelski
Rest easy my 9th great Uncle. His sister Abigail is my 9th great grandmother
It was believed at one time that John Proctor the immigrant was married to Martha Giddings sister of George Giddings. Because: 1667 Ipswich Court Gordge Giddeng" age 55 deposed and John Prockter Sr, age 75 deposed the same as "my brother Giddens" And George had a sister Martha. Except a Martha was b. about 1615. and a marriage record was found for John Proctor Sr to Martha Harpur. You all know how bad genealogy goes... If the marriage between the Martha G and the first John isn't right then of course she must have married the next John. Of course now the sister of Giddings is 15 or so years older than JOhn the second.

I think we need to give up the notion that her surname was Giddings at all. And rename her Unknown.

posted by Anne B
A lot of redundant and unsourced children here. I now plan to detach Sarah (Douglas) Proctor-1765 b. 1675, William Proctor-1310 b. 2 April 1679. Joseph Proctor-1766. None of these are mentioned in Savage or have proper source information. I think a Mary or two needs to be added. Not yet sure about Abigail b 22 Jan 1692.
posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
Joseph is a child, mentioned in estate distribution.
posted by Anne B
Biography mostly complete

Superfluous wives need to be merged and superfluous children either detached or merged, depending on evidence

posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
There is a family Bible that substantiates some information please tread lightly as you bulldoze through.
posted by Lydia Vierson
That would be the family Bible supposedly in the possession of some person? As the sole source?

What does this book actually say?

posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
I am requesting PPP for this profile. Any major revisions should be discussed with PMs please.
posted by Lydia Vierson
You mean, like posting comments on the profile concerning proposed revisions? That kind of discussion?
posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
FYI, profile is already project protected. (I'm co-leader of PGM.). CORRECTION: the profile is not currently PPP'ed but is being tracked and co-managed by PGM. Hesitant to add PPP until the various duplicates and conflicted relations are resolved.
posted by Jillaine Smith
edited by Jillaine Smith
Merges have been proposed for 1st wife with notes, duplicate children have been resolved. Please proceed with PPP when appropriate
posted by Lydia Vierson
Lydia, can you provide more information about the family bible? I don't see reference to it on this profile. Thanks.
posted by Jillaine Smith
See son William’s profile. I would prefer to communicate via PM further rather than publicly on this profile please.
posted by Lydia Vierson
The first wife of John Proctor is a real mess. Someone has left alternate candidates - Giddens-636 and Giddons-2. See Disputed Marriage section. I'm going to propose a merge between these two, and change their LNAB to either Jackson or Unknown. It's definitely not Gidd ....

See also https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/new-england-historical-and-genealogical-register/image?volumeId=11644&pageName=285 and https://www.americanancestors.org/databases/new-england-historical-and-genealogical-register/image?pageName=409&volumeId=11667&rId=23485732

posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
I believe I can clean this one up, if someone can identify source #S00246

Does it refer to Savage?

posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
Source: <span id='S00246'>S00246</span> Author: Sarah Saunders Smith Title: The Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony Publication: Name: Name: Pittsfield, MA: Press of the Sun Printing Company, 1897;; NOTE Sarah Saunders Smith, The Founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Name: Pittsfield, MA: Press of the Sun Printing Company, 1897;), Source Medium: Book CONT.
posted by Anne B
Thanks Anne - I see that one. I'll get on the profile soon.
posted by Lois (Hacker) Tilton
Someone needs to clean this page of duplicates. Please.
posted by C Gilliam
Jillaine, it is an increasing frustration that wikitree leadership, despite their platitudes, do not respond to any suggestions for improvement. How long ago did you attempt to update the sources page?
posted by Joe Cochoit
Joe, thanks for reminding me of your great proposal, which I whole heartedly support. I just reviewed all the threads there and didn't see Chris W or other team member confirming its approval.
posted by Jillaine Smith
I would disagree Jillaine. The suffix field should not be thought of as a "their conventions" field or an "at birth" field. See this G2G for detailed discussions. The use of generational numbers is standard and well-understood and can be very useful in differentiating individuals.

That said, it appears he should be a II and not a III if a suffix is used.

posted by Joe Cochoit
Unless there's documentation from the era that used "III" as a suffix, it should be removed.
posted by Jillaine Smith
Why is he called John III if his father is called John Sr.?
posted by John Crouch
After the merge it now appears that siblings Martha & Hannah need research for possible merge. Also, children Martha, John & William also need research for merge.
posted by David Mason
Proctor-3792 and Proctor-736 appear to represent the same person because: This is the same person...same birth/death/spouse
posted by David Mason
Wouldn't this John Proctor, jr, be instead John Proctor, the 3rd,or III, as his Father and Grandfather were both named John ?
posted by Carleton Procter