Salem Witch trials – executed some of my ancestors!

Photo added to FindaGra e by Tom W. Stanley, 2000.

John Proctor.   This is a shocking revelation to me! Both John Proctor and Margaret Stephenson Scott were my ancestors. Not sure how close, but they are in the tree! Astonishing.

From the FindaGrave Site here’s a well done bio of John Proctor. Sad tale. But, my ancestor?? Who knew?

Salem Witch Trial Defendant. Born the son of Martha Harper and John Proctor, Senior in Assington, England. The family settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony between 1633 and 1635, and established a successful farm in Ipswich. He married his first wife, Martha in 1651. After her death, he married Elizabeth Thorndike in 1662. He left Ipswich in 1666, and settled in Salem. In March of 1692, his servant joined in the hysteria of the which trials and began accusing others of witchcraft. His 3rd wife, Elizabeth Bassett, was accused of witchcraft on April 4 and examined in court, and during the examination, the accusers began to shift their focus from Elizabeth to her husband . Proctor was officially indicted on April 11, 1692 on three charges of witchcraft. Many friends of the couple came to their defense and signed a petition asking for them to be released to no avail. In May, three of the Proctor’s children were also accused of witchcraft and arrested, as were Elizabeth Proctor’s sister and sister-in-law. Proctor, on several occasions, questioned the credibility of spectral evidence and the validity of the Court. On July 23, Proctor wrote a letter to Boston pleading for the appointment of different judges or to move the trials to Boston in hopes of a fair outcome. On August 1, eight Boston ministers met to discuss Proctor’s letter and finally changed their stance on allowing the use of spectral evidence in the trials, but too late. John Proctor and his wife were convicted of witchcraft on August 5, 1692. The couple were sentenced to hang, Elizabeth’s sentence was suspended due to pregnancy. Proctor was hanged on August 19; his body was then disposed of in an unmarked, common grave, now lost. Legend suggests that the Proctor family secretly retrieved his body, and buried it on the family farm. In 1957, the state of Massachusetts formally apologized for the witch trials.

Bio by: Iola

Margaret Scott gravestone
Added by: Tom W. Stanley on 24 Aug 2000

Margaret Stephenson Scott. I wonder why her son didn’t go to bat for her and protect her! She was 75 years old, and poor. Probably not very attractive at that age. FindaGrave has this for her.

Roots? Holy Cow, I’ve got roots I never knew about.

My sister is doing the bulk of the Ancestry searching and collecting documentation, and the more she digs, the more interesting this whole endeavor becomes.

At first, we were surprised to learn my mother’s father, who abandoned her and her mom, went west and married again without benefit of a divorce. That means we had family out west we never imagined, and one of them did lots of ancestry work to our benefit. It traced my mother’s father’s family way back to Plymouth, MA and very early settlers. That was a surprise.

Since then, we’ve done DNA tests and discovered many more interesting things. My father’s family also can be traced back not only to the Mayflower and earlier back England, but even into France and Hugh de Payen, founder of the Knights Templar! How exciting! There are a few missing things in there, but it is largely understood Payen and even Pagan are forerunners of the Payne family name. There are some Payne’s in our US history I’d love to find a relationship to, but haven’t pinned those down, just yet.

Now, my sis has discovered that the very Mary Chilton who first set foot in Plymouth from the Mayflower when she was just a teenager is my eighth great grandmother! That’s stunning!

And a few of my ancestors were executed in the Witch Trials of early New England as well! I’m going to have to pull this stuff all together for my grandkids, who won’t be interested for a few decades at least, but how exciting!

My dad abandoned us with a completely profoundly deaf mom, and her dad had done the same. With a history like that, a childhood like that, who on earth would have thought we had such ancestry???

We are American through and through, here for centuries, and our early ancestors came from England/Scotland/Ireland and that includes France since back then, France was often in the hands of British kings. The Norman Invasion was Normans, from Normandy, which was named that because it had been invaded and ruled by “northmen” from Scandanavia….obviously. I’m learning so much!