|wikimedia commons photo|
Tom Felton at Fan Expo 2011 in Toronto.
|Source =http://www.flickr.com/photos/44775455@N00/6129560080/ |
Author http://www.flickr.com/people/44775455@N00/ |Date =August 27, 2011
According to genealogist David Nelson, Tom Felton, the actor who played the evil wizard Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies, is a distant relative of John Proctor. This is also stated in the forward of Emerson Baker’s new book A Storm of Witchcraft, published 2014. This is extremely interesting to me since John Proctor is my 8th great grandfather, but he was also hung as a witch in 1692 Salem, Massachusetts. You might know John Proctor as the protagonist in the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
This got me to thinking, since I am also a FELTON descendant. The Felton family lived in Salem, and my ancestor’s home still stands in what is now the town of Peabody, Massachusetts. The Felton family was allied to John Proctor, and many members of this family signed a petition in his favor. This was a brave gesture, since many who supported the accused in 1692 Salem were also accused themselves. Was Tom Felton, the actor, also a Salem Felton descendant? This is important because it would be fun to involve the younger members of the Felton family at the next reunion with a lineage chart and short lecture on the subject.
At the website Bloodlines of Salem, www.bloodlinesofsalem.org , there is a list of famous descendants of the “witches” of Salem. The princes of England, including Prince William, heir to the throne, and his infant son George, are on this list, as well as President George W. Bush, comedienne Lucille Ball, and Red Cross founder Clara Barton. The closest I could find to an answer to this question is in Tom Felton’s biography at the Internet Movie Data Base ( www.imdb.com ) where it states “The London Sun claims he is related to John Proctor, one of the accused witches in the 17th century Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts (see the link below). Proctor’s son Thorndike Proctor married a Hannah Felton.” This is also repeated nearly word for word in Tom Felton’s Facebook page. Of course I am skeptical because there were no "witches" in Salem to begin with, only innocent folks who were accused of this lie by their conniving neighbors.
As both a descendant of John Proctor and as a descendant of Nathaniel Felton (Hannah’s father), I know many facts about the 1697 marriage between Thorndike Proctor (1672 – 1759) and his bride Hannah Felton. I don’t know about you, but as a genealogist I would think that any children of this Proctor-Felton marriage would carry the Proctor name, not the Felton surname, wouldn't you? I needed more proof that a British actor is descended from colonial New England settlers. I drew up a brick wall on Tom Felton’s connections, since there seemed to be no lineages available online or in genealogical journals.
So, next I tested the theory that Prince William was descended of a witch. The Bloodlines of Salem website gave no clues other than naming Princes William, Harry and George as descendants. So I turned to my favorite genealogist of the stars, Gary Boyd Roberts.
I knew from a private conversation with Gary Boyd Roberts that I shared a common COGSWELL ancestor with Lady Diana. John Cogswell (about 1592 – 1669) lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the same town where John Proctor, the witch trial victim hung in 1692 lived. His article online at NEHGS’s website http://www.americanancestors.org/princes-william-and-harry/ from 27 April 2011 doesn’t mention Tom Felton at all, nor does it connect the princes with anyone from the witch trials. This was a big clue that the Bloodlines of Salem website was possibly off track with their claims.
I did find this chart on line that shows how Prince William is related to Rev. George Burroughs, who was hung as a witch in 1692. It does have sources if you mouse-over the names. And it goes back to a common ancestor who died in England in 1472. You’re your own with this one since I have not checked the sources: http://famouskin.com/famous_kin_chart.php?name=6104+prince+william&kin=11991+george+burroughs
I left two messages via the contact email on the Bloodlines of Salem website, and received no replies. I also consulted with Margo Burns, an author who has written about the Salem Witch Trial era, and she agreed that the Felton name was a red herring [my words]. Emerson Baker did not reply to my message on line asking for clarification about the Tom Felton claims, except to refer me to the Sun newspaper link listed below. And if there is an allied kinship, not descendancy from the personalities in the 1692 Witch Hysteria, I’d still like to hear about it from the Bloodlines of Salem administrators.
For the truly curious:
“Harry Potter star related to witches” Metro UK, 22 June 2007
Also, see this link which was Emerson Baker’s source for Tom Felton being related to real witches: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/238447/Draco-Malfoy-is-a-witch.html
A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, by Emerson W. Baker, 2024, also available on line at Google Books. See page 12 in the forward for mention of Tom Felton.
A well written article by Gary Boyd Roberts of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) “Notable Kin- the Progeny of “Witches” and “Wizards”: Some Descendants of Rev. George Burroughs and William and Joanna (Blessing) Towne, Parents of Mary Estey and Rebecca Nurse” published date 2 August 1992 http://www.americanancestors.org/the-progeny-of-witches-and-wizards/ This is one I can trust. No mention of Tom Felton [of course, it was written well before the movie franchise].
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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo