The namesake of our Chapter, Colonel John Proctor, was born circa 1740. It is believed that his ancestors originated in Scotland. The family name was derived from a contraction of the word procurator, meaning a manager or agent. The earliest recorded individual by the name was Gavan Proctor, who apprenticed in the smithy of the abbey of Cupar-Angus in the year 1474. A number of families by the name of Proctor emigrated to the New World, the earliest being that of Nathaniel Proctor who landed at Nova Scotia in 1598. A John Proctor emigrated to Virginia in 1610. Many men by the name of Proctor were listed on the ships passenger lists between Nathaniel's trip over four hundred years ago and on into the Eighteenth Century before travel was sharply curtailed by the American Revolutionary War.
John's parents, believed by some researchers to have been Richard Proctor and ---------, resided in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The father, Richard, was buried in the cemetery of Christ's Church in Philadelphia. A brother, William, and his wife, Mary, moved to the vicinity of York Springs, York/Adams County, Pennsylvania.
John Proctor married Catherine Hamilton. They homesteaded originally on a tract of 238 acres "on the headwaters of Sewickley", which they sold to Philip Smith on 08 January, 1776. The Proctors moved to Kentucky circa 1795. It was while residing in Kentucky that John Proctor died in 1810.
The earliest public record we have of John Proctor is a transcript of the roster of the First Battalion of the Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Colonel Henry Bouquet in 1763. John Proctor, at the age of twenty-three, served as a captain of a company in that battalion. Bouquet's expedition freed the garrison at Fort Pitt from the Indians who were beseiging it. There is no doubt that it was during that expedition that John decided to become a settler in the frontier.
In the early 1770s, John Proctor showed up in the records of the frontier counties. In October, 1772 he was elected to the position of Sheriff of Bedford County. (On 16 October, 1772 he filed a bond in the amount of £1,500 to the King of Great Britain as a surety that he would carry out the King's writs. During the following year the westernmost part of the territory created in 1771 as Bedford County was removed and erected as the new county of Westmoreland. On 19 October, 1773 John Proctor was elected to serve as Sheriff of Westmoreland County.
On 16 May, 1775 a general meeting of the inhabitants of Westmoreland County was held at Hannahstown to draft a set of Resolves to show their support of the growing Patriot cause. Shortly thereafter, companies of Associators were formed. John Proctor was chosen to serve in the capacity of Colonel of the First Battalion. A record in the minutes of the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, dated 15 June, 1776, noted that:
"The Honorable House of Assembly having taken into pay a Company of Rifle Men in Westmoreland County, under the Command of Capt. Vansweringen And Colo John Proctor, of said County, applying for a sum of Money for their pay & subsistance, By order of the Board, an order was drawn on Mich'l Hillegas, Esq'r, in favour of said Proctor and for the uses aforesaid, for the sum of Four hundred pounds."
On 13 September, 1777 John Proctor was appointed Paymaster of the Westmoreland County Militia. He held that position through 1779.
Colonel John Proctor's Battalion was included on a listing of fifty-three battalions of Associators in existence in the Province of Pennsylvania in the year 1775. It was number 52nd on that list, and therefore acquired the designation.
Beginning on 04 March, 1777, and continuing through 06 October, 1777, John Proctor served as a representative on the Supreme Executive Council of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
On 18 October, 1777 John Proctor was, along with Thomas Galbraith, appointed to the position of Agent of Forfeited Estates to confiscate the properties of Loyalists in Westmoreland County. He continued in this capacity into 1783.
In November of 1781 a House of General Assembly was created to govern the state of Pennsylvania. John Proctor served as one of three Representatives from the county of Westmoreland to that General Assembly.