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Proctor Family Papers

Proctor Family Papers

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Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Proctor family
Title:Proctor Family Papers
Quantity:2.5 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:This collection includes two branches of the Proctor family of Danvers and Salem, Massachusetts.
Collection Number:MSS 663

Series List

SERIES I. Thorndike Proctor Branch of Family
SERIES II. Benjamin Proctor Branch of Family
A. Johnson Proctor Papers
B. John Waters Proctor Papers
C. Henry Harrison Proctor Papers

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes two branches of the Proctor family of Danvers and Salem, Massachusetts. It contains personal correspondence, a family bible, notebooks and diaries, travel itineraries and journals, photographs and postcards, drawings, poems, pith paintings and paintings on peepal leaves, a news clipping, and receipts. The collection is divided into two series.

Series I. Thorndike Proctor Branch of Family includes letters, receipts and legal papers belonging to several generations of Thorndike Proctors and also Robert Proctor, the brother of Thorndike Proctor (1759-1792). There is a small pocket diary belonging to Thorndike Proctor, captain of the ship Capitol, containing daily navigational positions and the ship's passenger list (with hometowns and professions).

Series II. Benjamin Proctor Branch of Family has been divided into three subseries. Subseries A. Johnson Proctor Papers contains a letter from Johnson Proctor, an inventory of his real estate, and a family bible with five pages of family records. Subseries B. John Waters Proctor Papers contains extensive personal correspondence of John, his wife Mary, and their children, in particular Augustus and Mary. Of particular interest are daughter Mary's descriptions of life at Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. There are also drawings and writings from both Mary (mother) and Mary (daughter). Subseries C. Henry Harrison Proctor Papers includes correspondence from Henry and his son Charles, travel journals and a daily reminder written by his wife Ellen, itinerary and passport belonging to Charles, an award given to Sarah Perkins (Ellen Proctor's sister), and an obituary of James Perkins (Ellen Proctor's father). There are several photographs, including one of the Proctor house in Danvers (now Peabody), and also a large drawing of the Proctor house on linen. Of particular interest are the peepal leaf paintings and pith paintings (restricted) most likely from China. There are also other drawings and poems, including one by Edna Dean Proctor (also descended from the first John Proctor).

Biographical Sketches

The progenitor of the Proctor family in New England was John Proctor (ca. 1594-1672) who came from England in 1635 and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. His son John (1631-1692) was a successful landowner who also owned a tavern. Early in 1692 he spoke out against witch trials and was convicted and hanged on August 19, 1692. The Proctors in this collection are among John Proctor's descendants.

Thorndike Proctor was born on January 28, 1815, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Thorndike and Elizabeth (Rust) Proctor. He married Emma Silsby in 1842 and they had one daughter, Emma Thorndike. Thorndike Proctor was a seaman and captain of the ship Capitol which sailed to San Francisco via Cape Horn on January 24, 1849, arriving in San Francisco 176 days later. He died shortly thereafter on October 16, 1849, in California.

Johnson Proctor was born on October 29, 1765, in Danvers, Massachusetts, the son of John and Ruth (Porter) Proctor. He served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He married Lydia Waters in 1789, and after her death married Mary Putnam in 1809. Johnson and Lydia had five children: John Waters, Lucinda, Lydia Waters, Clarinda, and Abel Waters Proctor; Johnson and Mary had one son: Aaron Cheever Proctor. Johnson Proctor died on November 11, 1851, in Danvers.

John Waters Proctor was born in Danvers, on July 30, 1791, the first son of Johnson and Lydia (Waters) Proctor. He attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School and practiced as a lawyer in Danvers. He married Mary Ingersol Osborn in 1825; they had six children: Mary Ingersol, John Augustus Holyoke, Elizabeth Osborn, Caroline Waters, Henry Harrison, and Edward Waters Proctor. John Waters Proctor died on November 26, 1874, in Peabody, Massachusetts.

Henry Harrison Proctor, the son of John Waters and Mary Osborn Proctor, was born on December 18, 1840, in Danvers. He entered the sole leather business in the employ of Abel Proctor & Son. Later he went into the leather brokerage business, with offices in New York and Boston, and into the tanning business. Henry married Ellen Augusta Perkins in 1863; they had two sons: Francis Ingersoll and Charles Anderson Proctor. Henry Proctor died on April 23, 1921, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Perkins family
Proctor, Caroline Waters, 1836-1859
Proctor, Charles Anderson, 1866-1936
Proctor, Edna Dean, 1829-1923
Proctor, Elizabeth Osborn, 1831-1905
Proctor, Ellen Perkins, 1843-1930
Proctor, Henry Harrison, 1840-1921
Proctor, John Augustus Holyoke, 1829-1862
Proctor, John W. (John Waters), 1791-1874
Proctor, Johnson, 1765-1851
Proctor, Mary Ingersol Osborn, 1804-1845
Proctor, Mary Ingersol, 1825-1855
Proctor, Robert, 1760-1841
Proctor, Thorndike, 1759-1792
Proctor, Thorndike, 1815-1849
Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass.
Capitol (Ship)
Letter writing
Peepal paintings
Pith paintings
Andover (Mass.)
California--Gold discoveries
Danvers (Mass.)
San Francisco (Calif.)


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Administrative Information


Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.

Preferred Citation

Proctor Family Papers, MSS 663, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.


Much of this material was donated by Mrs. Richard H. Thompson on May 8, 1970 (formerly Fam. Mss. 797) and Mrs. Richard N. Dyer on July 8, 1971 (formerly Fam. Mss. 800). The pocket diary belonging to Captain Thorndike Proctor was added to the collection on May 12, 1967 (formerly Fam. Mss. 799). The provenance of the remaining material is unknown.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Lee Jacoby, December 2017.

Related Material

Capitol (Ship) Logbook, 1849, Log 1354.

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