Sgt. Thomas Putnam

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Sgt. Thomas Putnam

Birthdate: (47)
Birthplace: Salem Village, Essex County, Massachusetts
Death: May 24, 1699 (47)
Salem Village, Essex County, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Son of Lieut. Thomas Putnam and Ann Putnam
Husband of Ann Putnam
Father of Ann Putnam, Jr. ("Salem Witch Trial" accuser); Thomas Putnam, III; Elizabeth Putnam; Ebenezer Putnam; Deliverance Putnam and 8 others
Brother of Sarah Putnam; Mary Putnam; Deliverance Wolcott; Jonathan Putnam; Thereda Putnam and 5 others
Half brother of Joseph Putnam

Occupation: Sgt. Indian Wars, Mass. Horse Troops, organized Salem witch trials
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sgt. Thomas Putnam

Thomas Putnam (January 12, 1651/2 - May 24, 1699) was a real person ([1]) in the Salem witch trials, and is a character in the play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. He was the son of Lt. Thomas Putnam (1615-1686) and Ann Holyoke (1621-1665). He was also a nephew of Elizur Holyoke and great uncle of General Israel Putnam.

Some historians have speculated that her parents, Thomas and Ann (Carr), Sr., coerced Putnam to accuse those they were feuding with or sought revenge on. Many of the accused had some sort of relationship with the powerful Putnam family.

Thomas was the husband to Ann Carr, and father of Ann Putnam, Jr. (In the Crucible, her name is Ruth Putnam) Together they blame Goody Osbourn, the midwife of Salem, for killing the seven babies that Goody Putnam had many years ago. Not only do they blame her, but they blame many of the wealthier and well respected citizens of Salem during the time. Unfortunately, their accusations are not booed down, but actually believed, because of the climate of fear and hysteria. In one of the most dramatic scenes in The Crucible, Giles Corey accuses Putnam of killing his neighbors for their land, so Danforth calls Putnam in to the court. Putnam denies the charge.

Minutes later Corey rushes at Putnam and tries to tear him limb from limb.

Putnam owns much of the land, and money. He is respective of the church, and is close to Reverend Parris. That does not stop him from subtly manipulating Parris. Putnam has often been viewed as unscrupulous and amoral, but his subtle machinations are often overlooked. He leads Parris by the nose to the conclusions he wants to hear, and faces down John Proctor, a man not lightly intimidated.

Putnam and his wife Ann act as a group in The Crucible, particularly in Act I, where they allow their fears and demands to override Parris' inherently weak personality.

Thomas Putnam, Jr. (1651-1699) - A third generation member of Salem Village, Thomas was a significant accuser in the notorious 1692 Salem witch trials. He was born to immigrant Thomas Putnam and Ann Holyoke on January 12, 1651 (or '52) in Salem Village, Massachusetts. When he grew up, he served in the local militia and fought in King Phillip's War (1675-1678), obtaining the rank of sergeant. Upon returning home, he married Ann Carr, who came from a wealthy family, on November 25, 1678. The couple would eventually have 12 children. Beginning in the 1660's, Salem Village began the process of trying to separate itself from the larger nearby community of Salem Towne. The Putnam family supported this effort whole heartedly. The village finally was allowed to build its own church and hire a minister in 1672. However, not all of Salem Village's residents supported this idea, which would eventually split the settlement into two factions. Heading up the group who supported the independence of Salem Village was Thomas Putnam, Jr. Opposing him and his followers were the powerful Porter family. Both families were early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, both families had been successful, and both were large land owners in Salem Village. Over time, the division of the community became more and more heated.

Thomas Putnam, Jr. appears to have been an embittered man for a variety of reasons. The Putnams were farmers who followed the simple and austere lifestyle of traditional Puritans. They, along with other farmers in Salem Village, believed that the thriving economy of Salem Towne, and more specifically, thriving merchants, made people too individualistic, which was in opposition to the communal nature that Puritanism mandated. On the other hand, though the Porters derived much of their wealth from agricultural operations, they were also entrepreneurs who developed commercial interests in Salem Towne as well as other areas, and were active in the governmental affairs of the larger community. Due to these differing viewpoints, the Porters' diversified business interests allowed them to increase their family's wealth, becoming one of the wealthiest families in the area. In the meantime, the Putnam family wealth was stagnated.

Further adding to Putnam's issues of "wealth" was the death of his father in 1686. Thomas, Jr.'s father and his wife Ann Holyoke had born ten children. But, when his mother died in childbirth in 1665, Thomas Sr. married for a second time to a woman named Mary Veren on November 14, 1666. This union would produce one child -- Joseph, who was born on September 14, 1669. Thomas, Jr. did not get along well with his younger half-brother Joseph and when his father died in 1686, he felt cheated out of his inheritance when Thomas Sr. left almost all of his estate to his second wife Mary, and their son Joseph. Thomas, Jr. and his brother, would contest the will, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Adding insult to injury, his half-brother Joseph married Elizabeth Porter, the daughter of his enemy Israel Porter, on April 21, 1690.

His wife, Ann Carr Putnam, had also been disinherited. When her wealthy father died, she got nothing, as his estate was given to her brothers. She also tried unsuccessfully to sue for her inheritance. She too was embittered and also said to have been a woman of a highly sensitive temperament. Before she had married Thomas Putnam, she had moved to Salem with her sister, Mary. When her sister's three children died in quick succession, followed shortly by Mary herself in 1688, Ann's mental stability was severely shaken and she went into a decline.

It was not long after the first of the "afflicted girls", Elizabeth Parris began to have fits, that Thomas' own daughter, Ann Putnam, Jr., would also begin to show symptoms of having been afflicted by witch craft. She was followed by Putman's niece, Mary Walcott, and a servant girl who lived in the Putnam household named Mercy Lewis. Twelve year-old Ann Putnam, Jr. would become the most prolific accuser in the witchcraft trials, her name appearing over 400 times in the court documents. By the time the hysteria was over, she had accused nineteen people, and had seen eleven of them hanged.

Thomas Putnam, Jr. gave his daughter’s accusations legal weight in first seeking warrants against the accused witches in February, 1692. He would also participate by writing down the depositions of many of the "afflicted" girls, personally swear out a number of complaints, and write letters of encouragement to the judges. It is obvious that Thomas Putman, Jr. had a great influence on the shape and progression of the trials. Though he has never been accused of deliberately setting up the hysteria, he, his family, and his friends benefited to some extent by eliminating their enemies.

Thomas Putnam, Jr. died on May 24, 1699 in Salem Village. Just two weeks later, on June 8th, his wife, Ann Carr Putnam, also passed away. Their daughter, Ann Putnam, Jr., was left to bring up their younger children.

Captain Jonathan Walcott (1639–1699) - Born to William and Alice Ingersoll Walcott in 1639, William grew up to wed Mary Sibley about 1664 and the couple would have six children, one of whom was Mary Walcott, who would later become one of the "afflicted girls" in the witchcraft hysteria of 1692. During the years of 1675-76, he served in King Phillip's War. Mary Sibley died on December 28, 1683 and Captain Walcott would marry a second time to Deliverance Putnam on April 23, 1685. Deliverance was the sister of Thomas Putnam, Jr. The couple would have seven children. A wheelwright by trade, Walcott also owned land next to his Uncle Nathaniel Ingersoll. In 1690, Jonathan Walcott was elected captain of the military company at Salem Village. His Uncle Nathaniel Ingersoll would also serve in the Salem militia, first as a corporal, then a sergeant, and finally as a lieutenant. When the witch hysteria broke out in 1692, he became involved and was known to have signed many of the complaints against the accused. He died on December 16, 1699.

Mary Walcott (1675-1752) - The daughter of Captain Jonathan Walcott, and the cousin of Ann Putnam Jr., Mary Walcott was a regular witness in the witch trials of the Salem witch trials, testifying that she was afflicted by 59 people. See more HERE.

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, July, 2012. Putnam

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Sgt. Thomas Putnam's Timeline

December 1, 1651
Salem Village, Essex County, Massachusetts
April 16, 1652
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
April 16, 1652
April 16, 1652
Salem Village, Essex, Massachusetts
April 16, 1652
Salem Village, Essex, Massachusetts
April 16, 1652
Salem Village, Essex, Massachusetts
April 16, 1652
Salem Village, Essex, Massachusetts
October 18, 1679
Age 27
Salem, Essex, Massachusetts
February 9, 1681
Age 29
Salem Village, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony