Danforth, Thomas, 1622-1699

Alternative names
Birth 1622
Death 1699-11-05

Biographical notes:

Danforth is best known as one of the judges in the Salem, Mass. witch trials. He was a deputy governor of Massachusetts.

From the description of [Document] 1660 Aug. 3 / Th. Danforth. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 213329967

Thomas Danforth was an early resident of New England, a wealthy farmer who held several offices in colonial government and at Harvard College. Born in Suffolk County, England, he emigrated to America with his family in about 1635, where he was raised by Thomas Shepard after his father's death. He became a prosperous landowner in Massachusetts, and held several roles in the government, including representative to the state legislature, deputy governor of Massachusetts and President of the province of Maine. He was treasurer and later steward of Harvard, and a positive force in the school's early success. His role as a judge during the Salem witchcraft trials was dramatized by Arthur Miller in The Crucible.

From the description of Thomas Danforth legal document describing a controversial property line, 1663. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 123906092

Thomas Danforth was born in England in November 1622 or 1623, and at the age of 11, his family moved to Masssachusetts. In 1650, he was appointed treasurer of Harvard College, a position he held until becoming the steward in 1669. He had a long career in public service, holding positions in the Massachusetts legislature and as president of the Province of Maine. In his final years, he was an associate justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. Notably, he served as a judge during the Salem witch trials of 1692. Danforth married Mary Withington in 1644, and they had twelve children. He died on November 5, 1699.

Jonathan Danforth was born in England in 1628 and, after moving to Massachusetts, became a leading citizen of Billerica, where he served as the town clerk and as the captain of a local military unit. In addition to his public offices, he became a surveyor. He married Elizabeth Poulter on November 22, 1654, and they had nine children. After her death, he married Esther Champney on November 17, 1690. He died in 1712.

From the guide to the Thomas and Jonathan Danforth collection, Danforth, Thomas and Jonathan collection, 1656-1688, (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan)


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  • Real property
  • Dwellings
  • Poetry
  • Statesmen
  • Land tenure
  • Registers of births, etc.--Massachusetts--Billerica
  • Land grants
  • Procedure (Law)--United States--Early works to 1800
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  • Maine--Falmouth (as recorded)
  • Maine--Kittery (Town) (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Falmouth Neck (Me.) (as recorded)
  • Billerica (Mass.) (as recorded)
  • Kittery (Me. : Town) (as recorded)
  • Fort Loyal (Me.) (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Maine (as recorded)