Francis Dane

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Francis Dane (20 November 1615 – 17 February 1697) was baptized in Bishop's Stortford, England,[Ref 1] and was probably born there.

Education and early career[edit]

Francis Dane matriculated as a sizar at King's College, Cambridge in Easter term 1633[Ref 2] and emigrated to Massachusetts with his parents, John Dane and Frances (Bowyer) Dane, in 1636.[Ref 1]

Dane became the second pastor of the North Parish Andover, Massachusetts in 1649. During that time, he founded a school for Andover youth.


By his first wife, Elizabeth Ingalls (abt 1622–1676), Francis had two sons,

  • Nathaniel Dane
  • Francis Dane, and four daughters,
  • Elizabeth Dane Johnson,
  • Hannah Dane Goodhue,
  • Phebe Dane Robinson, and
  • Abigail Dane Faulkner.

He married twice more. His second wife was Mary Thomas (m. 1677-1689), and his third wife was Hannah Abbot (m. 1690-his death 1697).

First Murmurings of Witchcraft[edit]

In 1658 when the subject of witchcraft first came to his attention, he came down decidedly against the concept. When John Godfrey was charged with injuring the wife of Job Tyler by "Satanic acts," Francis Dane judged against the probability.[Ref 3]

A New Minister[edit]

Around 1680, when Francis Dane was about sixty-five years of age, church members became concerned about his ability to fulfill his role leading the church and requested that a younger minister be sent to them. In January 1682, Rev. Thomas Barnard, a recent graduate of Harvard, arrived.

Shortly following Barnard's arrival, Francis Dane's salary was stopped. Dane petitioned the General Court in Boston to have it reinstated. The town complied, but split the salary of 80 pounds a year so that Dane received thirty pounds and Barnard received fifty. Neither man was pleased with the solution.

Salem Witch Trials Begin[edit]

Dane had lived in Andover for forty-four years, and he was seventy-six years old when the Salem Witch Trials began.

On October 18, 1692, Francis Dane, Thomas Barnard, and twenty-three others wrote a letter to the governor and to the General Court publicly condemning the witch trials. Dane and his family were in danger as half a dozen family members stood accused, including Francis Dane himself. Another minister, George Burroughs, had been hanged, and thus Dane's status did not guarantee protection. He warned that his people were guilty of blood for accepting unfounded accusations against covenanted members of the church.

Two of Francis Dane's daughters, Elizabeth Dane Johnson and Abigail Dane Faulkner, and his daughter-in-law, Deliverance Dane, were all arrested. Abigail Dane Faulkner's two daughters, Abagail Faulkner and Dorothy Faulkner, were also accused of witchcraft.

Trials' influence on family[edit]

Francis Dane's daughter, Abigail (Dane) Faulkner Sr., was convicted and condemned in September 1692 but given a temporary stay of execution because she was pregnant. She was later pardoned by the governor and released. Although Dane's extended family had the most accused of any family, none of his immediate family members was executed.

Although the Danes' extended family (including the How family) was most accused in the trials, none was executed except Elizabeth Jackson Howe (executed July 19, 1692), wife of James Howe (aka How) Jr. However, the members of Francis' large extended family, for the most part, experienced imprisonment and other harassment.[Ref 4]


  1. ^ a b Morison, Samuel Eliot (1935). The Founding of Harvard College. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674314504. 
  2. ^ "Dane, Francis (DN633F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ The Unitarian, Volume 12 edited by Jabez Thomas Sunderland, Brooke Herford, Frederick B. Mott.
  4. ^ Otten, M.W. (1999) Table:The Dane Family and Extended Kinship TEG 19:221 (view Table, via TGS)

External links[edit]