John Proctor was one of the few men accused of witchcraft in Salem Village. During the Salem Witch Trials, several members of the Proctor family were accused of witchcraft. Proctor’s story, like the stories of many others accused, is tragic.
John Proctor’s Life Before the Salem Witch Trials
John Proctor was born on October 9, 1632, to John Proctor, Sr., and Martha Harper. He was born in Suffolk, England, but the entire family moved to the current United States in 1635.
Growing up, John and his family owned several properties and accumulated some wealth. When he grew older, he started his own businesses. In 1653, he married Martha Giddens. Together, they had four children: John, Martha, Mary, and Benjamin. It seems as if most of their children died quite young. Benjamin is the only child who survived the marriage, and Martha died in childbirth in 1659.
In 1662, John married Elizabeth Thorndike, who was about 10 years younger than him. Together, they had seven children, several of whom did not survive. It was during this time that John received a license to operate his tavern and inn just outside Salem Village. In 1672, Elizabeth died after birthing their seventh child.
John married again in 1674, this time to Elizabeth Bassett. They had seven children, and Elizabeth helped him run the tavern.
Witchcraft Accusations Against John Proctor
Elizabeth was the initial target of accusations against the family, but John’s defense of his wife also encouraged the afflicted girls to name him as well. Mary Walcott claimed John tried to choke her, and Mary Warren (his former servant) said John beat her and tried to force her to touch the devil’s book.
John was an easy target for the witch hunters. He called into question the use of spectral evidence and questioned the validity of the court accusing its community members. He wasn’t the only one, but he was clear in his criticism.
John Proctor’s Guilty Verdict
John and Elizabeth Proctor were tried beginning on August 5, 1692. When they were found guilty, the sheriff seized their belongings and left their…