Captain George and Elizabeth (Herbert) Corwin
Capt. George Corwin was born December 10, 1610 at Workington, Cumberland County, England. It is believed that he was from the Curwens of Northampton and Warwickshire, England. He was descended from the ancient Curwen family of Workington, Cumberland, England, bringing to America memorials of such descent such as a seal with the Curwen arms, etc.
In 1636 in England, Capt. George Corwin married Elizabeth Herbert White. Capt. George, his wife and two children came to Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, in 1638 under the auspices of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He became a wealthy merchant there acquiring large tracts of land and taking an active interest in local and military affairs. He first lived on Washington Street, near Norman Street, and then in 1660 he bought from Ann Woodbury a lot on Essex Street where he built a fine mansion, living there the rest of his life. He was active in the First Church of Salem, served by Roger Williams, and Hugh Peter, and in 1647 he contracted to make repairs to the church. When he died he was one of the wealthiest and most aristrocratic men in New England and left a large estate, including “a silver-laced cloth coat, a velvet ditto, a satin waistcoat embroidered with gold, a trooping scarf and silver hat-hand, golden-topped and embroidered, and a silver-headed cane.”
George Corwin was a freeman in 1665, representative in 1666, 1667, 1669, 1670, 1672, 1674, 1676, a selectman, captain in Philip’s War.
To this union seven known children were born: 1. Abigail, born August 1, 1637, died at one year 2. John, born July 25, 1638, died July 12, 1683 3. Jonathan, born November 14, 1640, died July 25, 1718 4. Hannah, born 1642, died at one year 5. Abigail baptized November 30, 1643 6. Hannah, born January 1, 1645, died November 21, 1692 7. Elizabeth, baptized July 2, 1648, died before 1685
Elizabeth Herbert Corwin died September 15, 1668, Essex County, Massachusetts.
Capt. George Corwin married a second time on September 22, 1669 to Elizabeth Winslow Brooks (widow of Robert Brooks and the only daughter of Governor Edward Winslow). Three more children were born to this marriage.
Captain George Corwin died January 3 or 6, 1685 probably in Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts. He is buried in the Broad Street Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts.
Salem Witchcraft by Charles W. Upham states: “George Corwin came to Salem in 1638. He had large tracts of land in various places. He lived, a part of his time, on his farm in the village; is found to have taken an active part in the proceedings of the people, particularly in military affairs; and was captain of a company of cavalry. His great mercantile transactions probably led him to have his residence mostly in the town, first on a lot on Washington Street, near the corner of Norman Street, where his grandson the sheriff lived in 1692. In 1660, he bought of Ann, the relict of Nicholas Woodbury, a lot on Essex Street, next east of the Browne Block, with a front of about one hundred and fifty feet. Here he built a fine mansion, in which he lived the remainder of his days. He died Jan. 6, 1685, leaving an estate inventoried at £5,964. 10s. 7d.,—a large fortune for those times. His portrait is preserved by his descendants, one of whom, the late George A. Ward, describes his dress as represented in the picture: "A wrought flowing neckcloth, a sash covered with lace, a coat with short cuffs and reaching half-way between the wrist and elbow; the skirts in plaits below; an octagon ring and cane." The last two articles are still preserved. His inventory mentions "a silver-laced cloth coat, a velvet ditto, a satin waistcoat embroidered with gold, a trooping scarf and silver hat-band, golden-topped and embroidered, and a silver-headed cane." His farms in the vicinity contained fifteen hundred acres. His connections were distinguished, and his descendants have included many eminent persons. The name, by male[i.99] descent, disappeared for a time in this part of the country; but in the last generation it was restored in the female descent by an act of the Legislature, and is honorably borne by one of our most respectable families, who inherit his blood, and cherish the memorials which time has spared of their first American ancestor.
Corwin "Witch" House painting by S. Bartoll in 1819
From The Salem Preservation Society Newletter May 2005
An article from the Salem Gazette on 4 October 1831 has provided incredible insight into the history of the house. It describes writing on the back of a painting of the Witch House. Based on the description of the painting in the article, it seems likely that the author refers to the painting done in 1819 by S. Bartoll. The Peabody Essex Museum owns the painting and the Witch House has a copy of it on display. The author quotes in full the general history of the house recorded on the back of the painting. The information provided follows the family tradition: “‘Built in the year 1642 by Capt George Corwin. The peaked roof taken off in 1746’”. This information is not news to scholars, although this writing, which also dates to 1819, is the earliest known source claiming a 1642 construction for the house. More fascinating, however, are the other claims that the writing makes: “‘Southeastern shop in front built in 1769. Southwestern [sic] store and shop built in 1773, and the porch removed’”. These statements are incredibly perplexing and surprising. Previously, scholars had believed that the pharmacy was built onto the front of the house in 1856 or the years immediately following it. Now, though, we know that the front of the Witch House was altered greatly even while Corwin descendants lived there. Additionally, since the additions were in fact stores, it is apparent that the Witch House would have been a bustling business center – not the quiet family home like historians had imagined. Further research has confirmed that Richard Ward kept the Witch House relatively public. Evidence has not suggested that Ward or his mother-in-law ran the shops attached to the house. Instead, it seems that Ward rented the space to Salem merchants. An advertisement in the Salem Gazette in 1800 notes that
Richard Ward sought to let “the Western End of the house... in Essex Street, Corner of North Street”. Evidently, the Ward family by 1800 lived in only the eastern side of the house and rented out the western side.
Hixson Trails – Margaret Madara Free
Genealogy Dictionary of New England – Savage
The Corwin Genealogy – 1977
Salem Witchcraft With an Account of Salem Village and
A History of Opinions on Witchcraft and Kindred Subjects – Charles W. Upham
Abstracts From Wills, Inventories, &c., On File In The Office Clerk Of Courts, Salem Mass.
Will of Captain George Corwin
Captain George Corwin Tombstone
Ancient Home of the Curwen's
Will of Captain George Corwin
Captain George Corwin Deeds