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 witch 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