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The Persecuted Proctor Family of Peabody
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Heading up the Proctor family
was John Proctor, who had immigrated to the United States with his parents
when he was just three years old. His father bought a farm in
Ipswich, was considered a prosperous landowner, and occupied various
offices of trust in the colony. When his father died, he left part of his estate
to his son. John would marry three times, losing his first two wives
prematurely to death. He married his third wife,
1674, a woman 20 years his junior. By this time, John had moved to the
outskirts of Salem, in what is now known as
Peabody. There, he
purchased and leased land, operating a large farm situated southeast of the Salem Village
line. He also ran a local tavern.
John Proctor was very outspoken
and after Rebecca Towne Nurse
was arrested for witchcraft in March, 1692, he made his thoughts known,
doubting the "afflicted girls"
and condemning the whole affair. This would soon lead to the persecution
of his entire family.
Before long, his own maid servant,
Mary Warren, began to have "fits", and accused
Elizabeth, of being a witch.
This was followed by other allegations from the "afflicted girls"
was sent to jail on April
11, 1692. When John stood up for his wife and further spoke out against
her accusers, he also found himself arrested and charged with witchcraft.
In the frenzy that followed, a number of other members of the Proctor family
would also be accused of witchcraft including including
John's son from his first marriage; and
William Proctor and
his son and daughter with
Bassett Proctor. From
Elizabeth's side of the
family, there were several more accused including her sister,
Mary Bassett DeRich, and her sister-in-law,
Sarah Hood Bassett.
Both John and
Proctor were tried on August 5, 1692, convicted and
sentenced to be hung by the neck until dead.
John Proctor was hanged on
August 19, 1692.
Elizabeth; however, would not immediately be hanged
because she was pregnant. She would give birth to a son, she named John
after his deceased father, on January 27, 1693. By this time, the
had died down and her execution wasn't followed through. In May,
1693, she along more than 150 people were set free by
Governor William Phips.
Though the Proctor family had many who testified on their behalf, there
were seemingly just as many or more who either accused them directly,
swore out complaints, or testified against them. These included the
"afflicted girls", Sarah Bibber,
Ann Putnam, Jr.,
Mary Walcott, and
as well as Thomas Putnam, John Putnam,
Lieutenant Nathaniel Ingersall, Thomas Rayment, Jonathan Walcott, David
Ferneaux, John Indian, the Reverend Samuel Parris, Stephen Bittford,
Joseph Bayley, Joseph Pope, Samuel Sibley, and James Holton.
Proctor Home still stands in Peabody, a suburb of Salem. It is privately
~ ~ ~
A drawing of the Downing home, which was
on the property
John Proctor purchased in
Sarah Hood Bassett (1657-1721) - Sarah Hood
was born to Richard Hood, Sr. and Mary Newhall Hood in
on August 2, 1657. She grew up to marry William Bassett, Jr. on
October 25, 1675 and the couple would have nine children. She was a sister-in-law to accused witch
Bassett Proctor, who would be found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to die;
but, was later pardoned. On May 21, 1692, a complaint was made by
Thomas and John Putman that she had committed witchcraft on
Ann Putnam, Jr.
and others. She was examined by Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan
Ann Putnam, Jr.
Mercy Lewis as witnesses. Two days later she was indicted. She
was imprisoned in Boston until December 3, 1692. She took her
22-month old child, Ruth, with her to prison and while she was
there gave birth to a son named Joseph on December 15, 1692. After
ended, she was released from prison in 1693.
She was later recompensed £9 for her experience. The next child
born to her, on August 2, 1695, was named "Deliverance" in honor
of her freedom. She died sometime in 1721.
Mary Bassett DeRich
(1657-1712) - The younger sister of
who would be found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to die for
the crime of witchcraft, Mary also got caught up in the hysteria.
Mary was born to William and Lexi Burt Basset in
1657. She grew up to marry Michael DeRich and the couple lived in
After her sister,
Elizabeth and her husband,
John Proctor, had already been arrested for witchcraft and were in
prison, Mary also found herself the target of accusers. On May 23,
1692, a complaint was sworn out against her by Lieutenant Nathaniel Ingersall and Thomas Rayment of Salem Village,
alleging that she had afflicted
Abigail Williams, and
Elizabeth Hubbard. She was examined the same day. To make matters worse
for Mary, her own son, John De
Rich, who was 16 at the time, would testify against her. Mary
was initially sent to a Boston prison and while she was there, her
husband, Michael died. She was later moved to a Salem Town jail. Nothing
more is known about her case, but, she was obviously released at some
point. She died in 1712 in Marblehead,
Proctor (1659-1717) - The only surviving child of
and his first wife, Martha Giddons, Benjamin, like many other members of
the Proctor family was accused of witchcraft in May, 1692. Born in
Ipswich in 1659, he spent the first years of his life on his father's
Ipswich. In 1666, his father
John Proctor moved the family to
the outskirts of Salem, in what is now known as
Peabody. At that time,
John Proctor had purchased the Downing farm and also leased
one of the largest farms in the area. Called "Groton," the 700 acre
spread was situated southeast of the Salem Village line. He also ran a
local tavern. While John's wife and older children managed the tavern,
Benjamin and his father managed the rest of his properties. In 1692,
after his father and step-mother,
Elizabeth, had been arrested, Benjamin
was also accused. On May 23, 1692, a complaint was filed by Lieutenant
Nathaniel Ingersall and Thomas Rayment of Salem Village and a warrant
issued the same day. Though he was known to have spent some time in
jail, the specific outcome is unknown. He was obviously released at some
point, because, when his step-mother,
Bassett Proctor, was released in 1693, she and his
siblings lived with them. Having been convicted of witchcraft, the
property belonging to her and her husband had been confiscated and she
had no where else to go. In 1694, Benjamin and the rest of the family
were living in
That year, Benjamin married the widow
Buckley Witheridge, who had also been imprisoned for witchcraft
in 1692. The couple would have four children. He died in Danvers (formerly
Salem Village) in 1717.
Continued Next Page
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