Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hung as a witch

John Proctor came to America from England on the ship, "Susan and Ellen", in 1635. Accompanying him was his wife, Martha, age 28; his son, John, age three; and his daughter,Mary, age one. He is found in the Ipswich, Massachusetts records with his wife, Martha Harper, and their children in 1635. Around 1640, a daughter, Abigail, was born to the Proctor family. She grew up and married Thomas Varney. They had a daughter, Rachel Varney, who married John Fellows. John and Rachel had a daughter, Amy Fellows, who married Captain John Brown. Their daughter, Amy Ann Brown, married Nathan Huntington. Nathan and Amy had a daughter, Lucy, who married Asa Burnham. Asa and Lucy had a daughter, Charlotte Maria Burnham. She married Sherman Smith. Their daughter, Caroline Smith, married George W. Salisbury. Caroline and George had a daughter, Charlotte, who married George W. Feige. Their son, Willard, was my great-grandfather.

Back to John Proctor and his daughter, Abigail, my ancestors. Abigail had an older brother, John. He was born in 1632 in London and made the journey to America with his parents around 1635. In 1666, he bought a farm in Salem, Massachusetts. He also operated a tavern just south of town. John married Elizabeth Bassett and had three children: Benjamin, William, and Elizabeth. He was a fairly wealthy man, having inherited some money from his father, but he was never fully accepted or respected by the people of Salem. He was much more comfortable with the people of Ipswich.

In 1692, Joseph Bayley, claimed that John Proctor caused pain in his chest as he was riding by the tavern. John and his wife, Elizabeth, were accused of witchcraft and put in jail. The citizens of Ipswich signed a petition asking for the release of John and Elizabeth. The Proctors were hung as witches on August 19, 1692.

At the time of the hanging, John's parents had already passed away. His sister, Abigail (my direct ancestor), was married to Thomas Varney. They were living in Ipswich, Massachusetts and were the parents of 5 daughters and 1 son. Thomas Varney died in December of 1692, 4 months after the hanging. Abigail Proctor Varney (John Proctor's sister) remained in Ipswich. She died in March of 1731, at the age of 92.

Rachel Varney (their daughter, my direct ancestor), was around 16 years old at the time of the hanging. Two months later, she married John Fellows in Ipswich. They quickly relocated to Plainfield, Windham, Connecticut, where they raised 7 children.

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