Ann Holland
1598 - 1627 1602 - 1673
950 William Bassett
bp. 30 May 1624
Dorking, Surrey, London, England
d. 31 March 1703
Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Sarah Unknown (Perhaps Burt)
b. ?
d. After 1701
Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Relationship Events:
Before 1647 Marriage Massachusetts, USA
  Elizabeth Bassett b. About 1647 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, USA; d. Unknown
1. John Proctor on 1 Apr 1674
2. Daniel Richards on 22 Sep 1699
John and Elizabeth Proctor were tried in the infamous Salem witchraft trials of 1692. John was hung for witchcraft in that year. Six Children: William, Sarah, Samuel, Elisha, Abigail, and she had John Proctor III while imprisoned waiting execution
  Sarah Bassett b. About 1649 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ?
Thomas Elwell on 23 Nov 1675 in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts, USA  
  William Bassett, Jr. b. About 1693 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ?
Sarah Hood on 25 Oct 1675 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ? Sarah Hood Bassett was tried for witchcraft in 1692 and imprisoned for five months. William and Sarah had nine children: Sarah, William, Mary, John, Hannah, Ruth, Joseph, Deliverance, and Abigail Bassett
Ancestor Leaf 865 John Bassett b. Nov 1653 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 9 Feb 1735 in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Mary ? in Marblehead, Essex, Massachusetts, USA
Eight children: Abigail, Merriam, Deborah, Sarah, John, Hannah, William, and Michael Bassett
  Miriam Bassett b. Sep 1655 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ?
Ephraim Sandin before 1681 Eight Children
  Mary Bassett b. Mar 1657/58 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d.
m. Michael DeRich; aka, Derrick; aka Rich in 1676 Mary DeRich was tried for witchcraft in 1692
  Hannah Bassett (1) b. 25 Feb 1659 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. 1670 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts
Died at 11 years of age.  
  Elisha Bassett b. About 1662 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ?
Elizabeth ? by 1689 Danell (Daniel?)
  Samuel Bassett b. 18 Mar 1663 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d.?
Living and unmarried in 1701  
  Rachel Bassett b. 13 Mar 1666 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts; d. ?
Ephraim Silsby on 23 January 1693 in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts, USA ?
  Hannah Bassett (2) b. 1670 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. ?
John Lille At least one child.
  Rebekah Bassett b. 1688 in Lynn, Essex, Massachusetts, USA; d. after 1701
Living and unmarried in 1701 ?
What We Know


Birth: His baptismal certificate is still on file at St. Martin's Church, which also ascertains the names of his parents.
Marriage: His marriage to a woman named Sarah is all that is known for certain (she is mentioned in several real estate transactions).
Death: The approximate date of his death is ascertained by the date of the proving of his will.

There were several Bassetts who immigrated to the colonies in the seventeenth century, and two of these were "Williams" who arrived at about the same time in Massachusetts. All of the early New England Bassetts here are mentioned, because they are sometimes confused with each other -- especially the two Williams who arrived in Massachusetts.

1.      William Bassett of Plymouth, Massachusetts, who arrived on the Fortune in 1621
2.      William Bassett of Lynn, Massachusetts, who arrived on the Abigail in 1635
3.      John Bassett of New Haven, Connecticut, who died  there in 1652
4.      William Bassett of New Haven, Connecticut, who died there in 1684
5.      Thomas Bassett of Fairfield, Connecticut, who arrived on the Christian in 1635.

Our William Bassett was born in 1624 in Dorking , Surrey, England to Roger Bassett and his wife Ann Holland Bassett.  He is the only one of the above-listed Bassetts whose parentage is known (so ignore the lineage to "De Bassetts" and the royal families of England until solid proof is obtained). Roger and Ann Bassett were married in St. Martin’s Church, Dorking, County Surrey, England, on 27 Apr 1623.  The marriage record still exists there as does the 30 May 1624 baptismal certificate for son William.  Genealogists assume he was their only child.

William Bassett was registered (age 9) on 17 Jun 1635 for passage on the ship Abigail, which sailed from England and arrived in Massachusetts later that year. His name appears as the only Bassett on board with his mother Ann Burt, her husband Hugh Burt, and Hugh Burt's son Edward (8). .Hugh Burt, Jr. at age 15 was registered on 1 July 1635 by Shipmaster Robert Blackwell for the same passage.

The Burt family settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and Hugh Burt’s name appears among the original inhabitants of Lynn, who were given land in 1638. 

William was given enough education to read and write as evidence by the signing of his own will and that of Hugh Alley in 1673.  His inventory at death also included books.

William married in approximately 1646 a woman named Sarah. According to Lewis and Newhall in the Annals of Lynn, William married Sarah Burt in 1640. However, there is no proof that Hugh Burt had a daughter of this name, and her surname and the year of their marriage are both in question. No record of her baptism exists with those of Hugh Burt’s other children at St. Martin’s Church in Dorking, and her name does not appear among the list of passengers on the Abigail.  Hugh Burt refers in his will to “my son Will Bassett”, and refers to no daughters.  It’s possible that this reference was misconstrued as “son-in-law” in place of “step-son.”  There was another Burt living in Lynn at this time, and it is pure speculation that he may have had a daughter named Sarah.   Since no one in Lynn was qualified to perform marriages at that time, it’s a probability that they were married somewhere other than Lynn, which is where they settled.   William and Sarah lived on Nahant Street in a property that was still owned by their descendants when the History of Lynn, by Lewis and Newhall, was published in 1865.

There are many records from Lynn, Massachusetts which tell us something of his life there. He was active in the community, participated in several real estate transactions, and served in the military, as evidenced by the records abstracted below:

01 Jun 1660: William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman [farmer] with the consent of Sarah, his "now wife" sold to Andrew Mansfield, husbandman, three acres of meadow in Lynn.

1661: Hugh Burt (William's step father) made extensive provision in his will for "my son Will."

07 Oct 1661: In Hugh Burt's will, "my son Will[iam] Bassitt" received two acres of salt marsh, 5 acres of upland, and "my wearing apparel."

24 Jun 1662: William served on the Petit jury.

23 Feb 1664: William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman, and Sarah his wife sold to Allen Bread of Lynn, husbandman, two acres of salt marsh in Rumney.

29 Nov 1664: William again served on the Petit jury.

Jun 1666: William was named "Constable" in Lynn.

29 Oct 1667: Edward Richards of Lynn, joiner, and Ann his wife sold to William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman, twelve acres.

20 Feb 1668: Richard Richardson of Lynn, wood cutter, sold to William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman, three acres in Lynn

24 Nov 1668: William served again on the Petit jury.

28 Jun 1670: William served again on the Petit jury.

28 Nov 1671 and 21 Jun 1672: William served on the Essex County grand jury.

1673: William signed as a witness the will of Hugh Alley.

Jun 1673: Lynn was elected a Selectman of Lynn. He held this position in the years 1674, 1675, 1677, 1678, 1679, and 16781 as well.

Jun 1673: William Bassett was appointed the administrator of his mother Ann Burt's estate, and also served as her guardian.

15 Apr 1675: Benjamin Chadwell of Lynn, husbandman, with the consent of Eliabeth his wife, sold to William Bassett of Lynn, husbandman, eight acres of salt marsh in Rumney Marsh.

20 Oct 1675: William Bassett is listed as a Sergeant, and on 1 Dec 1675, he is listed in Capt. Joseph Gardner's company on the expedition against the Naragansett. (The source credits William Sr. with this rank and activity; however, his son William would have been old enough at this time to have been the William Bassett in question although this source does not suggest that the William Bassett named is anyone other than William Bassett, Sr..

30 Nov 1675 and 25 Jun 1678: "Sgt. William Bassett" is again listed on the Petit jury.

1677: William takes the oath of fidelity (designating him as a "freeman". This oath is taken again in 1678.

Jun 1678: Sgt. William Bassett is named on a Committee to lay out a cartway.

28 Jun 1680: Thomas Wheeler of Sonington, yeoman, sold to William Bassett Sr. of Lynn, yeoman, nine acres of fresh marsh.

04 Dec 1680: William serves on the Coroner's jury.

1682: An aacount of work done on a bridge in Lynn included payment to William Bassett Sr. for "his boat one day."

29 Jun 1682: William Bassett is listed as "Quartermaster".

28 Jun 1682: William Bassett has attained the rank of "Ensign".

25 Nov 1684: William Bassett Sr. against sits on the Essex Grand Jury.

04 Jun 1685: The General Court answered a petition by William Bassett and others of Lynn, Reading, Beverly, and Hingham, by granting a tract of land "in the Nipmug country, of eight miles square, for their encouragement and Others that were serviceable to the country in the late Indian War." (No settlement was made on this grand until in 1728, many of the petioners were among those granted land at Narragansett Township No. 3, now Amherst, New Hampshire. William Bassett's grant was claimed by "William Bassett, grandson."

11 Nov 1689: "He was probably the Captain William Bassett who was of a council of war with Major Benjamin Church at Scarborough, Main (Essex Antiquarian 7:77 citing an unknown source).

10 Jul 1690: William and Sarah Bassett of Lynn sold to John Bancroft of Lynn three acres of meadow.

09 Jul 1691: In a deed recorded on this day, William Bassett, Sr. of Lynn, yeoman, and Sarah his wife sold to William Bassett Jr. of Lynn, "his son," ten acres of land in two parcels in Lynn. This entry indicates that his wife Sarah was still living on this date in 1691.

20 Feb 1701: William Bassett wrote and signed his will.

22 May 1703: William Bassett's will was proved, indicated he had died by this time.

11 Nov 1689: "He was probably the Captain William Bassett who was of a council of war with Major Benjamin Church at Scarborough, Main (Essex Antiquarian 7:77 citing an unknown source).

10 Jul 1690: William and Sarah Bassett of Lynn sold to John Bancroft of Lynn three acres of meadow.

09 Jul 1691: In a deed recorded on this day, William Bassett, Sr. of Lynn, yeoman, and Sarah his wife sold to William Bassett Jr. of Lynn, "his son," ten acres of land in two parcels in Lynn. This entry indicates that his wife Sarah was still living on this date in 1691.

20 Feb 1701: William Bassett wrote and signed his will.

22 May 1703: William Bassett's will was proved, indicated he had died by this time.




The Salem Witch Trials

Three of William’s adult children were victims of the horrendous travesty of the Salem witch trials which occurred in 1692.

Elizabeth Proctor’s husband John Proctor, was 20 years or so older than she and a prosperous farmer in the community. She was his third wife and brought with him to the household some of the children of his earlier marriages.  John had 4 children with his first wife Martha Giddens, who died in 1659; 6 with his second wife Elizabeth Thorndike who died in 1736,Together Elizabeth and John had six children of their own.

Elizabeth's grandmother Ann (Holland) Bassett Burt, a Quaker and a midwife,  had been brought up on charges of witchcraft in 1669. As she was not a doctor, but  was successful at curing the sick, some people felt she could only have medical skills if she were a witch; one of those who testified against Ann was Phillip Read, a doctor. The Puritans felt there was something "witchlike" about Quakers. Could the stigma of being her granddaughter have contributed to Elizabeth’s trials?

The accusations began with a servant in the Proctor household, Mary Warren, who, in March 1692 began to have fits, and saying she saw the specter (ghost) of Giles Corey.  John Proctor was dismissive of her claims (as he was of all the accusations, and worked her harder.  He felt that witchcraft should be suspected of the bewitched girls themselves and not of the respectable women of the village. His negative reactions to the girls' accusations caused Elizabeth to become one of the next accused of practicing witchcraft.

On March 29, 1692, Abigail Williams and Mercy Lewis again said they were being tormented by Elizabeth's specter. A few days later, Abigail again complained that Elizabeth was pinching her and tearing at her bowels, and said she saw Elizabeth’s specter as well as John’s.

In April 1692, 31 men from Ipswich, Massachusetts filed a petition attesting to the upstanding character of John and Elizabeth and denying that they had ever seen anything that would indicate they were witches. In May 1692, a similar petition was filed on behalf of John and Elizabeth containing signatures of 20 men & women, including several of the wealthiest landowners of Topsfield, Massachusetts and Salem Village. It questioned spectral evidence, to the Christian lives that John and Elizabeth had led, stated that they “were ever ready to help such as stood in need of their help” and stated that they had no reason to believe they were witches.

On June 2, 1692, a male doctor and several women completed a physical examination of Elizabeth and several of the other accused. They looked for birth defects, moles, or other markings that they believed were a sign that the person was a witch, and found none.

Two of John and Elizabeth’s children, William and Sarah, who were 18 and 16 respectively at the time, were arrested and tortured in an attempt to get information about the witchcraft activities of their parents.

Elizabeth ProctorOn August 2, 1692, the court met in Salem to discuss the fate of John and Elizabeth and several others. At some point during this time, John wrote his will, but he did not include Elizabeth. Some assume this is because he assumed she would be executed along with him. In spite of the petitions and testimonies from friends, both John and Elizabeth were found guilty, and were sentenced to death on August 5, 1692. Elizabeth, who was pregnant at the time, was granted a stay of execution until after the birth of the baby. John tried to postpone his execution, but failed. On August 19, 1692, John was executed. Elizabeth remained in jail. Action was eventually taken on the petition that John had filed to save his life and that of Elizabeth, but it was too late for John.

John Proctor Memorial

Elizabeth gave birth to their son, whom she named John III, while still in prison, and by the time he was born, the hysteria had passed and she was released.


Though Elizabeth was free, the ordeal was not over for her, for in the eyes of the law, she had been convicted. Although the law stated that possessions would be seized when someone was convicted, the Proctors' possessions were confiscated long before their trials, and Elizabeth could not claim any of John's property, some of which had been salvaged by this time. She could not regain her dowry because legally, she no longer existed. Elizabeth petitioned the General Court for reversal of attainder to restore her legal rights. No action was taken for seven years, even though it was now widely accepted that innocent people had been wrongly convicted.

On April 19, 1697, the probate court at Salem ordered the Proctor heirs to give Elizabeth her dowry. On September 22, 1699, Elizabeth married her second husband, Daniel Richards, in Lynn, Massachusetts. The public demanded that the courts apologize, and a written apology was issued on March 18, 1702. In July 1703, an address was made to the General Court requesting the petitions from the families be granted. Finally, action was taken to obtain the reversal of attainder for Elizabeth. The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill formally disallowing spectral evidence, but reversing attainder only for those who had filed petitions. This applied to Elizabeth and her husband, plus Rebecca Nurse.

John and Elizabeth Proctor were the central characters in Arthur Miller's play (and subsequent movie) "The Crucible" and are also described in the book "The Devil in Massachusetts", by Marion Starkey, written in 1949. 

A second of William's children, the wife of his son William Jr. , Sarah, like so many of her neighbors, was accused of being a witch in 1692. She was tried at Salem on 21 May 1692 and imprisoned in Boston until 3 December 1692She gave birth to her son, Joseph, on 15 December, shortly after being released.  In addition, she took her 22-month old child (probably Ruth) with her to prison. She named her next daughter "Deliverance" in honor of her freedom. In 1693, she was recompensed a £9 for her experience.

The third of his children to be affected by the witchcraft lunacy was his daughter Mary, who was married to Michael DeRich.  She was tried, but not sentenced for execution.

After the ordeal of the trials, some of the Bassett family, including William Jr. and our ancestor John joined the Quaker Church, and many of the third generation married into Quaker families.

William Bassett  died on March 31, 1703 at Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts, at the age of 78.  His wife Sarah was still living when William wrote his will on February 10, 1701, but the exact date of her death is unknown. Eleven of his children were surviving at the time his will was probated on May 22, 1703.

"The inventory of the estate of 'William Basset of Lyn.' taken 23 April 1703, totalled £110 14s., of which £74 was real estate: 'one old house, half a barn " seven acres " half of land.' £67 10s.; and 'one piece of salt marsh lying by the beach.' £6 10s..."[2,13]

Citation: Great Migration 1634-1635 A-B (Online database. New, New England Historic, Genealogical Society, 2008. Originally published as: The Great Migration, Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635. Volume 1, A-B by Robert Charles Anderson, George F. Sanborn, Jr. and Melinda Lutz Sanborn. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society 1999.

Brick Walls of Knowledge


As one of the country's first immigrants, considerable genealogical research has been done on William Bassett.

The exact dates of his children's births are unknown.

The precise identity of his wife or her birth date and whereabouts and her death are unknown. It is assumed that he had only one wife and that her name was "Sarah." Some genealogies say that she was talked about as being the daughter of his stepfather Hugh Burt; however there is no evidence of this being so.

The missing details of William Bassett's life are in all probability undiscoverable.

Name of Item Description of Item   Name of Item Description of Item
Witch Trial Chart A chart of the names of those affected by the trials William Bassett Will The Will of William Bassett
Testimony Testimony against Elizabeth Proctor, Mary DeRich, and Sarah Bassett. Bassett Genealogy The Essex Antiquarian Article
William Bassett Biography from "Great Migrations" Bassett Vital Records Various Vital Records for the Family
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