Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, Salem Witch

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Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, Salem Witch's Geni Profile

Records for Elizabeth Proctor

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About Elizabeth Proctor (Bassett)

Elizabeth (Bassett) Proctor (1650 - ) - Elizabeth and her husband, John Proctor, were tragic victims of the infamous Salem witch trials. Daughter of Captain William Basset Sr and Sarah Basset, Elizabeth was born in 1650 at Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts; she died after September 1699.

Marriages and Children

  1. John Proctor (1631 - 1692) m 1 April 1674 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
    1. William James Proctor (born 6 February 1675 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts)
    2. Sarah Proctor (born 28 January 1676 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts)
    3. Samuel Proctor (born 11 January 1686 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts)
    4. Elisha Joseph Proctor (born 28 April 1687 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts)
    5. Abigail Anne Proctor (born 27 January 1689 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts)
    6. John Proctor, III (born 27 January 1693 Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts)
  2. Daniel Richards (born 1649) married 22 September 1699 Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts

Salem Witch Trials

Elizabeth was John's third wife and had been married to him for 18 years. Among the first to be accused of witchcraft, they were imprisoned in April, tried on 5 August, and found guilty and sentenced to hang.

Since she was pregnant at the time of her conviction, Elizabeth was given a temporary reprieve until the birth of her child, by which time those convicted of witchcraft had been pardoned. Thus, her unborn child saved her life. Although pardoned, she was still a convicted felon in the eyes of the law and barred from claiming any of her husband's property.

Their two eldest children, William (aged 18) and Sarah (aged 16), were also accused and tried. William's "examination" in prison included being hogtied for hours in an attempt to force him to confess to being a witch.

On 23 July 1692, Proctor wrote a letter from prison on behalf of himself and the other accused witches to the clergy of Boston and asked to have the trials either moved to Boston or to have new judges appointed. In it, Proctor described the tortures used to elicit confession. Eight ministers took his letter under advisement and held a meeting on the matter on 1 August 1692 from which they emerged with drastically changed positions on spectral evidence and the trials in general. However, Proctor's life was not spared. He was executed by hanging on 19 August 1692.

In a 17th-century Puritan community, when a wife died, the husband remarried and the family and their property remained intact. However, when the husband died, the contents of the house were inventoried and dispersed according to his will, and often the family was split up. In the case of a "confessed" witch, the law was entitled to seize the entire estate.

This is why Giles Corey endured the horrific process of being pressed to death, which was not intended to be a method of execution, but to elicit a confession. Since Corey refused to confess, his estate remained safely within his family's possession. To add insult to injury, the cost of imprisonment and execution was borne by the witch's family. Robert Calef, in "More Wonders Of The Invisible World" offers this poignant description of what happened to the Proctor family:

"...John Procter and his Wife being in Prison, the Sheriff came to his House and seized all the Goods, Provisions, and Cattle that he could come at, and sold some of the Cattle at half price, and killed others, and put them up for the West-Indies; threw out the Beer out of a Barrel, and carried away the Barrel; emptied a Pot of Broath, and took away the Pot, and left nothing in the House for the support of the Children: No part of the said Goods are known to be returned." [pp. 361-2]

Thus, once released, Elizabeth Bassett Proctor had a newborn, three other children under the age of ten, and two teenagers who themselves were marked by the horrors of "examination" - and nothing with which to support them. The impounded property was not returned and it was eighteen years until the family was awarded £150 as recompense for John Proctor's execution and her imprisonment.

It appears that Elizabeth returned to her parents' home after the nightmare of 1692. On 22 September 1699 when Elizabeth was 52, she married Daniel Richards. They must have removed to another town, since there is no death record for either them in Lynn; nor is there any marriage or death record for the two youngest Proctor children, Elisha and Abigail, there.

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Elizabeth Bassett Proctor, Salem Witch's Timeline

1650
1650
Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts
1674
April 1, 1674
Age 24
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
1675
February 6, 1675
Age 25
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
1676
January 28, 1676
Age 26
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
1686
January 11, 1686
Age 36
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
1687
April 28, 1687
Age 37
Salem, Essex Co, Massachusetts
1689
January 27, 1689
Age 39
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
1693
January 27, 1693
Age 43
Salem, Essex, MA, USA
1699
September 22, 1699
Age 49
Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts
1700
1700
Age 50