Francis Nurse, I

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Francis Nurse, I

Also Known As: "Francis Nourse"
Birthdate: (77)
Birthplace: Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England
Death: November 22, 1695 (77)
Salem Village, Essex County, Province of Massachusetts Bay
Place of Burial: Danvers, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of unknown Nurse and unknown Nurse
Husband of Rebecca Nurse
Father of John Nurse, Sr.; Rebecca Preston (Nurse); Sarah Bowden (Nurse); Samuel Nurse, Sr.; Nathaniel Michael Nurse and 6 others

Occupation: Tray Maker & other wooden household goods, tray maker
Managed by: Amy Campbell Moran
Last Updated:

About Francis Nurse, I

Francis Nourse

  • Birth: Jan 18 1618 - Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England (also seen as Bristol UK)
  • Death: Nov 22 1695 - Salem Village, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony
  • Parents: unknown [not a known son of Rev. Edward Norris, of Salem & Elinor Norris

From "Salem Witchcraft" Volume 1 by Charles W. Upham:

Nothing, or scarcely any thing, can be inferred from spelling. It was wholly unsettled among the best-educated men, and in the practice of the same person... The name of the Nurses was often written Nourse, and sometimes Nurs.


The terms "Goodman" and "Goodwife" were applied to the heads of families. The latter word was abbreviated to "Goody," but not at all, as our dictionaries have it, as a "low term of civility." It was applied to the most honored matrons... It was a term of respect; conveying, perhaps, an affectionate sentiment, but not in the slightest degree disrespectful, derogatory, or belittling.

Surely no better terms were ever used to characterize a worthy person. "Goodman" comprehends all that can be ascribed to a citizen of mature years in the way of commendation; and the whole catalogue of pretentious titles ever given by flatterers or courtiers to a married lady cannot, all combined, convey a higher encomium than the term "Goodwife."


Please refer to the timeline tab for events in Francis Nurse's life.

"On account of the witchcraft delusion in Salem, [Francis] and his wife became historical characters. The name of Rebecca Nurse (or Nourse) is perhaps the best known of all of its unfortunate victims.

Francis Nourse was an early settler in Salem, and was a proprietor of the town 1647. He lived for forty years near Sperry's, on North River Street, between the main village and the ferry to Beverly. He was a woodworker, called a tray-maker. In those days, wooden trays and dishes were the rule; there was little pewter, less silver and china, and the plates, trays and trenchers of wood were the ordinary dishes.

He was a skilled workman, and a respectable man of great stability and strength of character. He was called frequently as umpire and arbitrator in cases of dispute over land boundaries. He served on local committees to lay out grants and highways, and on juries. He bought the Bishop farm of some three hundred acres at Salem village, April 29, 1678, and settled there. His sons all built their homesand lived on it, and were men of influence in town and church; were prosperous, and it is believed that their success in acquiring a large estate, paying for it and prospering, was the cause of the charges against wife and mother, Rebecca Nourse.

The story of her trial is well known. She was arrested and protested her innocence on the charge of witchcraft. With steadfast dignity and unwavering patience she bore the ordeal of her trial. Thirty-nine of her friends among the highest and most respectable in the town, signed a statement testifying to her blameless character and faithfulness to the church. These names have been inscribed on a tablet on the memorial recently erected over her grave in Danvers.

They jury found her not guilty, but the court reversed the verdict and condemned her to death. She was hanged on Witch Hill, and buried in the little cemetery at Danvers.

Francis Nourse married [Rebecca] on August 24, 1644...She and her husband were members of the First Church of Salem, and he was a deacon."

--- "Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts"; William Richard Cutter Published in 1908 (Page 1489).

--- Provided by Gone Too Soon [47644196]

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Francis Nurse, I's Timeline

January 18, 1618
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England

There are numerous references to Francis Nurse's date of birth/baptism. The one that seemed to refer to a citation indicated January 18, 1617/18:

371. WFT Volume 12, Tree 0093, "CD-ROM."
372. WFT Volume 01, Tree 4470, "CD-ROM."

Granted, these are not the most reliable of citations, but the search does continue for better sources on birth or baptismal date.

January 18, 1618
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England
Age 26
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony

The exact date of birth of eldest child John Nurse to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded, as is the date of baptism.

Age 28
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

The exact date of birth of eldest daughter Rebecca Nurse (future Rebecca Preston) to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded, as is the date of baptism. The infant has an older brother, a toddler named John (age 2).

Age 29
Town of Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony, (Present USA)

The exact date of birth of Sarah Nurse (future Sarah Bowden) to father Francis and mother Rebecca Nurse is unrecorded, as is the date of baptism. The infant has two older brothers (a young boy named John - age 6, and a toddler named Samuel - age 2) and an older sister (a young girl named Rebecca, age 4).