Hon. Thomas Danforth
chr.20 Nov 1623 Framlingham, Suffolk, England
d.5 Nov 1699 Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
m. 11 Feb 1617/8
m. 23 Feb 1643
Facts and Events
Thomas Danforth (baptized November 20, 1623 – November 5, 1699) was a politician, magistrate, and landowner in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A religiously very conservative Puritan, he served for many years as one of the colony's councilors and magistrates, generally leading hardline opposition to attempts by the English kings to assert control over the colony. He accumulated land in the central part of the colony that eventually became a major portion of Framingham, Massachusetts. His government roles included administration of territory in present-day Maine that was purchased by the colony.
Danforth is probably best known for his role as a judge in some of the Salem witch trials conducted in 1692 and 1693. He is usually depicted in recreations of the Salem trials (including Arthur Miller's play The Crucible and its movie adaptations) as a harsh and domineering judge, when the historical record shows that he was highly critical of the conduct of the trials, and may have played a role in ending them.