Hathorne / HawthorneMarch 1, 2022 11:03 am
Judge John Hathorne was one of the most vocal participants during the Salem witchcraft trials. Judge Hathorne lived south of the Town House/Salem Courthouse in 1692, on present-day Washington Street, a short walk from home to court. Hathorne, whose father had been a Salem magistrate, was born in 1641, married at 33 and had six children. Hathorne had experienced several deaths in his family, including those of his three brothers, which left him the sole heir. While not legally trained, Hathorne was a trusted law official and was, like the other judges, a wealthy merchant. He owned a wharf and a liquor license and was a landowner with property in Maine. Early in his career he became a delegate to the General Court, and ultimately remained in the judiciary for his whole life. Promoted to the Superior Court in 1702, he resigned in 1712. Learn more at SalemWitchMuseum.com
Never showing remorse for the death sentences he awarded, John Hathorne died in 1717 at the age of 76. He is buried in the Old Burying Point/Charter Street Cemetery.
John Hathorne’s great-great grandson, Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem on July 4, 1804 to Elizabeth Manning and Capt. Nathaniel Hathorne. The family lived on Union Street in Salem until 1808, when his father died of yellow fever at sea. After his death, Nathaniel, his mother, and two sisters—Elizabeth, and Maria Louisa—moved into the Manning family home on Herbert Street. Learn more at 7gables.org.
It is speculated that Nathaniel Hawthorne added the “w” to the family name as a means of distancing himself from the wrongdoing of his great-great-grandfather. It is equally possible this change was merely the result of a fashion of the period, as many families were altering their names to reflect the original English spelling. It is interesting to note that Hawthorne did hold particular disdain for his ancestor, as Judge Hathorne appears as the antagonist Judge Pyncheon in Hawthorne’s 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. (From SalemWitchMuseum.com)