27 October 2019

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. Sarah was the widow of Capt. William Hathorne (1646-1678), son of Major William Hathorne (1606?-1681) and wife Ann of Salem. She had two Hathorne children who died in their minority. The proof of this earlier marriage is in a 1728 deed where her son Charles Burroughs, as his mother's heir, sells Capt. Hathorne's lands in Groton, Mass. 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.

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.

“Sarah (Ruck) (Hathorne) Burroughs of Salem, Massachusetts” by Glade Isaac Nelson in The American Genealogist, Vol. 91, pp. 23-28, 2019.

Originally published 19 Sept. 2017, updated with Capt. Hathorne data.

14 September 2019

Smallpox reported in Massachusetts Bay 1676-1688

As seen in Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 (online database: AmericanAncestors.org, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016), a few town clerks sometimes added notations for the cause of death, including smallpox. (Not all towns, such as Boston, are part of this database.)

Massachusetts Bay colonists first encountered smallpox in their communities in 1677, with epidemics also occurring in 1689–1690, 1702, 1721, 1751, 1764, and 1775. The highly infectious disease started with a fever followed in two or three days by a skin rash that turned into fluid-filled bumps with a dent in the center. Some colonists were familiar with or had the disease in the old country and knew that isolating its victims from the general population helped contain the spread of smallpox. But they did not have medical treatments or preventative measures.

Of the 4,283 deaths reported from 1676 to 1688 in the database, 32 notations mentioned death by smallpox. Typically, the rate of death after contracting the disease was 30 percent, though higher for babies. This suggests an average of 1,285 people died of smallpox, though only .74% were reported.

However, from the small sample (the 32 listed below), it’s possible to see how smallpox traveled (by placing the dates in order) and how relatives and neighbors were infected. 

----, Peter, a[n Indian] boy of Holbrook’s, small pox, 5: 11m : 1678-9. C.R. 1.
Davis, Samuel, s. Toby, small pox, bur. 10: 2m : 1679. C. R. 1.
Davis, Willia[m], small pox. at Boston, bur. 18: 10m: 1678. C. R. 1.
Gary (see also Garee, Gery), Dorcas, inf. d. ----, wid. Nathtaniel], small pox, bur. 21 : 12 m : 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Gery, Deborah [Gary, d. wid., small pox. C. R. 1.], Mar. 8, 1678 [1678-9. C. R. 1.]
Gery, Nathaniel [Gary, small pox. C. R. 1.], Jan. 28, 1678. [1678-9. C. R. 1.]
Goard, John [a young man], small pox, bur. 18: 12m: 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Goard, Phebe, w. Richard, small pox, bur. 28 : 12 m : 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Heath, Dorothy, d. wid., small pox, 3: 11m: 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Holbroke (see also Holbrook), John [Holbrook, small pox. C. R. 1.], Dec. 25, 1678.
Hopkins, Hannah, w. Willia[m], small pox, 5: 11m: 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Hopkins, Mary, small pox, bur. 8: 12m [Feb.]: 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Lamb, Mary, d. Caleb [small pox. C. R. 1.], July 4, 1679.
Newel, Abraham [Newell, C. R. 1.], s. Isaac [small pox: C. R. 1.], Dec. 25, 1678. [a. 11 y. C. R. 1.]
Newel, Jakob, small pox, 30: 10m: 1678. C. R. 1.
Newel, Mary, d. Jakob, small pox, 5: 12m: 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Stevens, ____, small pox, 13: 10m: 1678. C. R. 1.
Tatman (see also Totman), Elizabeth, inf. d. Jabesh, small pox, 30:9m: 1678. C. R. 1.
Weld, Elisabeth, w. Joseph [small pox. C. R. 1.], Feb. 15, 1678. [1678- 9. C. R. 1.]
Weld, Margaret [Marget. C. R. 1.], d. Joseph and Elisabeth [small pox. C. R. 1.], Feb 12. 1678.
Williams, Theoda, small pox, bur, 8: 12m: 1678-9. C. R. 1.
Wise, Jeremiah, small pox, 17 : 9m: 1678. C. R. 1.

Hamlet, Mary, w. Jacob, small pox, July 9, [16]78.

Beedle, ________, ch. Robert, small pox, Jan. 4, 1678. [Jan. 9. CT. R.]
Blanchard, John, small pox, July 24, 1678.
Lunt, ________, ch. John, small pox, Sept. 30, 1678.
Moody, Judith, d. Caleb, small pox, at Salisbury, Jan. 28, 1678.
Morse, ________, ch. Joseph, small pox, Feb. 5, 1678.
Morse, Joseph, small pox, Jan. 15, 1678.

Cutler, John, Sen., s. of ____, of the small-pox, in the family of Isaac Brooks, 1678 or 1678-79.
Farrar, Jacob, s. of ____, of small-pox, 1678 or 1678-9.
Wyman, David, s. of ____, of small-pox, 1678 or 1678-9.

03 August 2019

Using the Essex Institute Historical Collections

Essex Institute, Salem, Mass., circa 1910s
The Essex Institute of Salem, Massachusetts, was formed in 1848 by the merger of the Essex Historical Society and the Essex County Natural History Society. This literary, historical, and scientific society had a deep interest in Essex county, 

In 1992, the Essex Institute merged with the Peabody Museum to become the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM).

One hundred years of the Essex Institute Historical Collections (EIHC) is available online through the Internet Archive. The journals contain family genealogies, histories, probate records, and other miscellaneous records of interest to genealogists.


Vol. 1 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1859)

Vol. 2 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1860)

Vol. 3 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1861)

Vol. 4 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1862)

Vol. 5 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1863)

Vol. 6 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1864)

Vol. 7 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1865)

Vol. 8 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1866)

Vol. 9 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1869)

Vol. 10 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1870)

Vol. 11 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1871)

Vol. 12 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1874)

Vol. 13 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1875)

Vol. 14 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1877)

Vol. 15 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1878)

Vol. 16 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1879)

Vol. 17 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1880)

Vol. 18 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1881)

Vol. 19 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1882)

Vol. 20 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1883)

Vol. 21 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1884)

Vol. 22 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1886)

Vol. 23 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1887)

Vol. 24 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1888)

Vol. 25 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1889)

Vol. 26 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1890)

Vol. 27 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1891)

Vol. 28 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1892)

Vol. 29 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1893)

Vol. 30 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1894)

Vol. 31 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1895)

Vol. 32 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1896)

Vol. 33 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1897)

Vol. 34 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1898)

Vol. 35 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1899)

Vol. 36 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1900)

Vol. 37 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1901)

Vol. 38 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1902)

Vol. 39 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1903)

Vol. 40 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1904)

Vol. 41 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1905)

Vol. 42 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1906)

Vol. 43 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1907)

Vol. 44 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1908)

Vol. 45 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1909)

Vol. 46 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1910)

Vol. 47 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1911)

Vol. 48 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1912)

Vol. 49 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1913)

Vol. 50 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1914)

Vol. 51 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1915)

Vol. 52 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1916)

Vol. 53 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1917)

Vol. 54 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1918)

Vol. 55 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1919)

Vol. 56 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1920)

Vol. 57 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1921)

Vol. 58 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1922)

Vol. 59 Essex Institute Historical Collections (1923)

Other Publications

Proceedings of the Essex Institute

Bulletin of the Essex Institute: Communications

Annual report of the Essex Institute

See more 

Digital Public Library of America


25 March 2019

Sidney Perley's Essex Antiquarian

Born in 1857, Sidney Perley was a well-known lawyer in Essex county, Massachusetts. He also wrote books and articles on history, genealogy, and the law. From 1897 to 1909 he published the Essex Antiquarian. These journals include so much valuable information, I've included the links below. Perley died in 1928. 

For more articles published by Perley, check out my links to the Essex Institute Historical Collections (EIHC). He also wrote pieces for the New England Historic Genealogical Society (AmericanAncestors.org).