19 September 2017

Reconstructing Rev. George Burroughs’ Genealogy

1711 Attainder for George Burroughs & Others
Rev. George Burroughs left his Salem Village post in 1683, preferring life in the Maine wilds with occasional Indian attacks than dealing with the animosity brewing in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1692 he returned to Salem in chains on trumped up charges of being “in confederacy with the Devil.” 

At age 42, Burroughs stood before his former congregation and many other spectators at Proctor’s Ledge with a noose around his neck. He proclaimed his innocence on the charges of witchcraft, then perfectly recited the “Lord’s Prayer.” A sense of unease apparently swept through the crowd afterwards but Rev. Cotton Mather, sitting on horseback, declared it was a “righteous sentence.” Burroughs and four other victims of the Salem witch trials were hanged on 19 August 1692.

Incorporating Corrections to the Burroughs Tree


Over the last 65 years, various researchers have discovered new details about George Burroughs’ family and printed corrections, most notably in articles published in The American Genealogist. Yet we still see the same misinformation being repeated online and in print. I’ve compiled all that data so George can be properly placed with his parents, wives, and children.

Burrough of Wickhambrook


Born about 1650, George was the son of Nathaniel Burrough and his wife Rebecca Stiles. Nathaniel was a merchant/mariner, son of Rev. George Burrough (1579-1653), rector of Pettaugh and Gosbeck in Suffolk, England, and a member of the Burrough family of Wickhambrook. During his son’s childhood, records document Nathaniel’s travels between Maryland and Massachusetts Bay. Records also show in 1657 Rebecca joined the church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and was dismissed in 1674 to return to England. Rebecca (Stiles) Burrough was buried 26 March 1679 in Stepney, Middlesex, England. Nathaniel was buried there 6 March 1682.

*In England, the surname most often was spelled Burrough without the S, but there were a dozen variations.

Marriage No. 1


The ill-fated minister George Burroughs graduated from Harvard College in 1670. About 1673, he married Hannah Fisher, born 19 January 1652/3 in Dedham, Massachusetts, to Lieut. Joshua Fisher (1621-1672) and his first wife, Mary Aldis (d. 1653). George and Hannah had:

1. Rebecca Burroughs, baptized 12 April 1674 in Roxbury; died 27 January 1741/2, buried at Granary Burying Ground in Boston; married first, 1 December 1698 in Charlestown, Isaac Fowle; married second, 18 October 1716 in Boston, Ebenezer Tolman.
2. George Burroughs, baptized 25 November 1675 in Roxbury; died young.
3. Hannah Burroughs, born 27 April 1680 in Salisbury; died 5 August 1746 in Woburn, buried at First Burial Ground, Woburn; married 8 March 1705 in Boston, Jabez Fox (1684-1736).
4. Elizabeth Burroughs, born in 1681, baptized 4 June 1682 in Salem; died 1719, buried at Granary Burying Ground in Boston; married 2 November 1704 in Boston to Peter Thomas.

Hannah (Fisher) Burroughs died in September 1681, possibly shortly after her fourth child was born. Her ghost appeared in the Salem witch trials records.

Marriage No. 2


About 1683, George married Sarah Ruck, born 12 August 1656 in Salem, died about 1689/90, daughter of John Ruck (1627-1697) and his first wife Hannah Spooner (d. 29 January 1660/1) of Salem. Her ghost also appeared in the Salem witch trials records.

On 6 June 1693, John Ruck became guardian of George and Sarah’s four orphans (but not 1st wife Hannah’s children), and in the same month, Ruck had three of them baptized. In his 1697 will, he bequeathed land to his four Burroughs grandchildren:

5. Charles Burroughs, born about 1684, baptized June 1693 in Salem; married first, 3 October 1706 in Salem, Elizabeth Marston (d. 1711); married second, 11 March 1711 in Marlborough, Rebecca Townsend of Charlestown. 
6. George Burroughs, baptized April 1691 in Salem; published marriage intention 27 February 1713/4 in Ipswich to Sarah Scales.
7. Jeremiah Burroughs, baptized June 1693; died unmarried March 1752 in Ipswich. 
8. Josiah Burroughs, baptized June 1693; died after 1701 when he chose Samuel Ruck as guardian and before 1712 restitution.

Note: According to Robert Charles Anderson (author of the Great Migration series), there is no evidence that Sarah Ruck married Capt. William Hathorne (1646-1678) first. Hathorne did leave a widow Sarah, but there’s no record that tie these two together.

Marriage No. 3


About 1690, George married his third wife, Mary —, probably in Maine. They had one child:

     9. Mary Burroughs, born about 1690-1692 in Maine, baptized 1 May 1698 in Cambridge, Massachusetts; married Joseph Tiffany probably years before they were warned out of Norton in 1734. She was admitted to the church in Attleborough in 1736.

In her mid-20s when her husband George was hanged, Mary (—) Burroughs married second, 13 July 1693 in Boston, Michael Homer—just months after his first wife Hannah (Dowse) died. In October 1694, Michael was taken to court for spousal abuse before disappearing from the records. In January 1697/8, Mary Homer was admitted a member of the Cambridge church and a few months later had her two daughters, Mary Burroughs and Hannah Homer, baptized. 

On 5 February 1699/1700, Mary (—) (Burroughs) Homer married in Cambridge to Christopher Hall Jr. (d. 1711). They had two children, Caleb (1700-1791) and Joshua Hall (1702-), born in Attleborough.


Sources for Burroughs’ Parents

“Nathaniel Burrough of Maryland, Massachusetts, and England” by George Ely Russell, The American Genealogist, Vol. 60, pp. 140-142, 1972. (TAG back issues are available to members at AmericanAncestors.org)

Genealogical Gleanings in England by Henry F. Waters, Vol.1, Vol. 2. 1:515f, 1:737, 2:1308f


Sources for Burroughs’ Wives & Children

“Homer-Stevens Notes, Boston” by Winifred Lovering Holman in The American Genealogist, Vol. 29, pp. 99-110, 1953.

“Mary (Burroughs) (Homer) (Hall) Tiffany” by Glade Ian Nelson in The American Genealogist, Vol. 48, pp. 140-146, 1972.

“The Third Wife of the Rev. George Burroughs” by David L. Greene in The American Genealogist, Vol. 56, pp. 43-45, 1980.

“Hannah Fisher, First Wife of the Rev. George Burroughs, Executed for Witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, 1692” by Neil D. Thompson, The American Genealogist, Vol. 76, pp. 17-19, 2001.


If you have any corrections, please leave them in the notes below. Thanks!




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