The Society of Friends (Quakers) began in England in the 1650s, when they broke away from the Puritans. Pennsylvania was founded by William Penn, as a safe place for Friends to live and practice their faith.
He married Elizabeth Bassett Proctor on September 22, 1699 in Lynn. Elizabeth was born in 1650. She was daughter of Captain William Bassett and Sarah Burt. The Bassetts were Quakers and signed a letter in 1703 to Massachusetts Governor, Joseph Dudley, from the Quakers of Lynn who had been asked to identify themselves.
She was John Proctor’s second wife. John was born in England in 1632. His first wife was Elizabeth Thorndyke. John and Elizabeth married April 1, 1674. They had six children.
John Proctor was hanged for witchcraft in Salem on August 19, 1692.
John Proctor's Tombstone
Elizabeth was put in prison with John, but was given a reprieve "on account of her peculiar circumstances" or until her child could be born. This child, John Proctor, was born in prison January 27, 1693 and died in Danvers in 1774.
Elizabeth and John Proctor at trial.
When she was set free, she and her children were impoverished. Because she had been condemned to death, she was considered legally dead she could not claim her husband's property.
In the 17th century jails were used as places to hold people accused of crimes until they were brought to trial, but not as places of punishment. A debtor could be held in jail until he paid his debts and political dissidents were also jailed. Punishments included execution, maiming, public humiliation and monetary fines.
During the 17th and 18th centuries an adult unmarried woman was considered to have the legal status of feme sole, while a married woman had the status of feme covert. A feme sole could own property and sign contracts. A feme covert was not recognized as having legal rights and obligations distinct from those of her husband and could not own any property. When a woman became a widow she became a feme sole again.
Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts was first settled by English Puritans in 1629 and was first incorporated in 1631 as Saugus.
Early Quakers were persecuted. In the Massachusetts Bay colony, Friends were banished on pain of death.
The Great Swamp Fight was on November 2, 1675. Josiah Winslow led a force of over 1000 colonial militia and about 150 Pequot and Mohegan warriors against the Narragansett. Several abandoned Narragansett villages were burned and the tribe retreated to a five acre fort in the center of a swamp near Kingston, Rhode Island. The fort, which was occupied by over a thousand indigenous warriors, was taken after a fierce fight. It was burned and the inhabitants, including women and children, were killed or evicted. The winter stores were destroyed. The colonists lost about 70 men and nearly 150 were wounded.