Saturday, October 29, 2016

Surname Saturday ~ PUTNAM of Salem, Massachusetts

Map of Salem Village
from A Storm of Witchcraft, page 121
note all the PUTNAM families on this map


In Salem Possessed, a book by history professors Boyer and Nissenbaum, [page 111], John Putnam was first granted 100 acres in Salem in 1641.  Little by little he bought and was granted more land until he owned almost 800 acres at the time of his death in 1662.  He was one of the most wealthy land owners in Salem.  Then two of his sons lost much of his fortune. Was this the cause of his family’s involvement with so many accusations during the 1692 witch hysteria?

His second son, Nathaniel (1619 – 1700) is my 9th great grandfather.  He was one of the wealthiest men in Salem, and he owned an interest in the ironworks at Rowley with his brother John.  About 1674 the ironworks burned to the ground, and there was a lot of paperwork and litigation in the Essex County records.  The Putnam brothers lost a lot of money, and turned back to farming their extensive lands.  Nathaniel Putnam owned the “Putnam Cupboard” made by James Symonds, a famous Salem furniture maker, now on display at the Peabody Essex Museum. This is amusing to me because two generations later one of Nathaniel Putnam’s descendants married Jerusha Pope, whose parents owned the “Pope Chest”, which was also attributed to Symonds and also on display at the PEM!

The Putnams were on both sides of the witch hysteria.  Their cousin was Ann Putnam, one of the main accusers.  They also signed a petition for the innocence of Rebecca Nurse.  There are many books and even several movies that dramatize the Putnam family during this sad period in history.  There is too much about the Putnams, especially Ann Putnam, Sr. and Jr. to include here in a short blog post, but if you are interested in learning more I will list some books below.  Ann Putnam, Jr. (1679 - 1716)

Nathaniel’s daughter, Elizabeth Putnam (1662 – 1697) married George Flint who removed to North Reading as a farmer.  Their nephew, Daniel Putnam, was the first minister of their church at the North Parish.  The Flint house was a garrison since this area, called the North Precinct, was considered the frontier.  They lived five miles from the meeting house.  There is a curious story about two little daughters who were left home while the family traveled to church on the Sabbath, and one little girl ended up shooting the other with a pistol.  Such accidents are not new, they have probably been happening since firearms were invented.

Some PUTNAM resources:

Chase- Wigglesworth Genealogy, by Alice Crane Williamson, 1990, pages 341-356

The American Genealogist 68: 77 – 83, 69: 212 – 218

A History of the Putnam Family, by Eben Putnam, 1891  (online at Hathi Trust)

History of Salem, Volume 2, by Sidney Perley, 1926 (online at Hathi Trust)

and for more about the PUTNAM family and the witch trials:

Salem Possessed, by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, 1974

A Storm of Witchcraft, by Emerson W. Baker, 2014  (online at Google Books)

The Enemy Within, by John Demos, 2008

Currents of Malice, by Persis McMillen, 1990

for legal evidence in the Salem witch hunt see Salem Village Witchcraft: A Documentary History of Local Conflict in Colonial New England, by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, 1972    

and also see
Records of the Salem Witch Hunt, edited by Bernard Rosenthal, 2009  (all the legal documents in chronological order) 

My PUTNAM genealogy:

Generation 1:  John Putnam, son of Nicholas Putnam and Margaret Goodspeed, was baptized on 17 January 1579/80 in Wingrove or Aston Abbots, Buckinghamshire, England, died 30 December 1662 in Salem, Massachusetts; married about 1611 in Buckinghamshire to Priscilla Gould, daughter of Richard Gould and Elizabeth Young.  She was born about 1585.  Four children.

Generation 2:  Nathaniel Putnam, born 3 September 1619 in Wingrove, died 23 July 1700 in Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts; married on 3 September 1652 in Salem to Elizabeth Hutchinson, daughter of Richard Hutchinson and Alice.  She was baptized on 30 August 1629 in Nottinghamshire, England and died 24 June 1688 in Salem.  Seven children.

Generation 3: Elizabeth Putnam, born 11 August 1662 in Salem, died 6 March 1697 in Salem, Village; married on 2 March 1679 in Salem to George Flint, son of Thomas Flint and Ann.  He was born 6 January 1652 in Salem, and died 23 June 1720 in the North Precinct (now the town of Reading).  Ten children.

Generation 4:  George Flint m. Jerusha Pope
Generation 5:  George Flint m. Hannah Phelps
Generation 6:  Phebe Flint m. John Flint
Generation 7:   Olive Flint m. Luther Simonds Munroe
Generation 8:  Phebe Cross Munroe m. Robert Wilson Wilkinson
Generation 9:  Albert Munroe Wilkinson m. Isabella Lyons Bill
Generation 10:  Donald Munroe Wilkinson m. Bertha Louise Roberts (my grandparents)


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Surname Saturday ~ PUTNAM of Salem, Massachusetts", Nutfield Genealogy, posted October 29, 2016,  ( accessed [access date]). 


  1. As is so often the case with my family tree, I am "famous adjacent." My Putnam connection is through Sarah Putnam (1708-1802), granddaughter of Edward Putnam (1654-1757), one of the Salem accusers. She married Joseph Steele (1706-1788), a younger brother of my 6x great-grandmother, Janet Steele.

  2. I find no ancestors among the innocent. Sad to say my 9th great grandfather was Robert Payne, foreman of the grand jury that indited them in 1692.

  3. Thank you for the list of resources! I am descended from Captain John Putnam (my 10th great grandfather), Nathaniel’s brother.

  4. Peter Cloyce, second wife Sarah Town Brigdes, a Town sister of which two were hung as witches. Peter son of seaman John first married, a Littlefield, of Wells, Maine. Many great Daniel Elliot, son of Daniel, brought as indenture to Massachusetts, by Peter's father seaman John, married Peter's older daughter step-daughter to Sarah. Felt marriage to be arranged, step mother and step daughter may not have been getting along. So the son of the indenture, married the grand-daughter of the seaman which brought the indenture over. It should be noted the the Littlefields, and Cloyce of Wells, Maine, lost the reverend. Rev. George Burroughs, and Sarah's two sisters where three of the nineteen which were hung. Peter's first wife was Hannah (Anna) Littlefild, his daughter was Hannah Cloyce Elliot.