Hathorne John

John Hathorne (1641 –1717), 9th g-grand uncle

John Hathorne grave marker, located in the Old Burial Ground, Salem, Massachusetts. The stone reads: “Here lyes interd ye Body of Col John Hathorne, Esqr Aged 76 years who died May 10, 1717.” (photograph by Benjamin C. Ray, 1999)

John Hathorne was an executor (often portrayed as a judge) in the Salem witch trials and the only one who never repented of his actions.  He was also a merchant in Salem, Massachusetts.  Hathorne’s father, Major William Hathorne, was among the early settlers of Massachusetts Bay in the 1630s and held a number of political positions for several decades.  John was the 2nd g-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne (see below), who changed his surname slightly, leading some to believe that he was trying to dissociate himself from his ancestor.  (Nathaniel published several works in 1830, however, under the Hathorne name.)  In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, Hathorne is portrayed as quite sadistic and, quite possibly, the most ignorant, antagonistic character besides Abigail Williams and her posse.  Hathorne is the leading judge who continually denies witnesses any chance to redeem their names in court, as if he has already determined the outcome.  He is cynical and rarely shows emotion, with the exception of the finale, where he is almost joyful that John Proctor is going to confess his crimes.  Hathorne is the judge appointed by Satan at the trial in Stephen Vincent Benet’s story “The Devil and Daniel Webster”, where he is described as “a tall man, soberly clad in Puritan garb, with the burning gaze of the fanatic.”

“The Trial of George Jacobs” – The painting above was created by Thompkins H. Matteson in 1855 and is based on the accounts of George Jacobs’ granddaughter. On the left of the painting is William Stoughton, who was the chief magistrate and went on to be a Governor thrice in Massachusetts. George’s principal accuser was his own granddaughter, who was accusing George in order to save her own life. Jacobs’ daughter-in-law is the woman standing who is being held back. She was thought to be mentally ill. The judge who is leading the accusation is John Hathorne, who holds a book and points at George’s granddaughter as if challenging her to substantiate her earlier written statements. George is in the front left with his arms outstretched. In the foreground are a girl and boy who are having fits allegedly caused by Jacobs’ wizardry. The boy may be John DeRich and the girl may be Jacobs’ servant Sarah Churchill or a principal accuser Ann Putnam. George Jacobs was found guilty and hanged at Salem Village on 19 Aug 1692.


Slate gravestone of Magistrate John Hathorne (1641-1717) (photo by Joseph R. Modugno)

John Hathorne (1641 – 1717), 9th g-grand uncle – William Hathorne (1607 – 1681) – Sarah Hawthorne (1632 – 1666), his sister – Stephen Hart (1660 – 1696) – Sarah Hart (1690 – 1769) – Ruth Owings (1713 – 1795) – Charles Oursler (1755 – 1796) – Martha Oursler (1790 – 1850) – Elizabeth Hurd (1807 – 1859) – Julia A Morris (1834 – 1902) – Paul Watkins (1864 – 1931) – Florence Eugenie Watkins (1903 – 1985) – Penelope Jane Walholm (1939 – ) – Tor Martin (Majerus) Hylbom



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