During the witch hunt of Salem, not everyone was in favor of the trials that followed. John Proctor was a wealthy member of the community that was strongly against the proceedings. He warned the people that it was unwise to listen to all the claims of the young girls. In this article, you will learn about the role Proctor played during the Salem Witch Trials.
Proctor experienced the hysteria that spread across the village. His own maidservant, Mary Warren, started to break into fits. Proctor sat the girl down at her sewing wheel and threatened to beat her unless she stopped. However, as the hysteria grew , Mary experienced fits again. Once the examination of Rebecca Nurse (a highly religious grandmother accused of witchcraft) ended in an accusation of witchcraft, Proctor became angry. He believed if the girls were left to their own accord, then everyone would be called a devil or witch. These kinds of comments would be later used against him.
Some of the townspeople started to think that someone who showed so little concern for the girls ‘afflicted’ with witchcraft were probably guilty as well. The first person in the Proctor family to be accused of witchcraft was his wife Elizabeth.
John loyally defended her innocence when it came time for her trial. Then, the girls suddenly pointed their fingers at him and named him as the first wizard in town. Abigail Williams was the main accuser, but Mary Walcott also named him, stating that he tried to choke her and his former servant Mary Warren on April 21. Warren told magistrates that Proctor had beater her for putting up a prayer bill, and then forced her to touch the Devil’s Book.
Other allegations were spoken at his trial. However, the only concrete evidence used against him was that the apparitions or specters of he and his wife were tormenting them. The court believed the girls’ stories and the wife/husband duo were sent to prison.
John attempted to sway Boston clergy by writing a letter that claimed they were all innocent. He told them of how the court proceedings were unfair and that torture was used to get confessions. His letter may have moved the clergy, but it was not enough to play a role in the trials. A guilty verdict was handed down for John and Elizabeth on August 5.
Elizabeth would not die for her ‘crimes’ because she was pregnant, but John was hanged on August 19, 1692. When John was executed, he met the hangman’s noose along with George Burroughs (minister of Salem Village), John Willard (constable in the village of Salem), George Jacobs Sr. (accused by his daughter-in-law and granddaughter), and Martha Carrier.
Other victims of the Salem Witch Trials included:
Mary Easty , This wife and mother of seven was well respected in Salem before she was accused of witchcraft. She was the sister of Rebecca Nurse, who was also convicted of witchcraft. She was jailed and then released, before a villager claimed to have been strangled by Easty’s apparition.
Ann Pudeator , In the community, Ann was respected and in her 70s when the widow was hung on charges of being a witch. Some of the accusations against the elderly woman included torturing people with pins, killing her second husband, and causing a man to fall out of a tree.
Martha Corey , Salem villagers knew Martha as a pious woman who was dedicating to attending the church. However, she did not show support for the witch trials and did not believe that witches existed. She believed that the accusers were lying and when several of the young girls heard this, they quickly accused her of being a witch herself. She was hanged for being a witch and her husband was pressed to death after coming to her defense.