Witch Hunts

Hibbins, Ann (d. 1656)

Hibbins, Ann (d. 1656) Prominent Boston woman convicted of witchcraft and executed.

Her chief crime as a witch seemed to have been a bad temper, which was disliked by her neighbors.

Ann Hibbins was married to William Hibbins, a well-to-do merchant in Boston.

She also was the sister of Richard Bellingham, deputy governor of Massachusetts, highly regarded as one of the leading politicians in the

Ann and William Hibbins enjoyed respect and social status and attended the first church established in Boston.

William Hibbins suffered setbacks in business, and the family fortunes declined.

According to accounts, that marked the beginning of Ann’s “witchcraft.” She was said to become increasingly ill-tempered, even toward her husband.

She irritated others; the church also censured her, first with admonition and then with excommunication in 1640.

As long as her husband remained alive, Ann enjoyed a certain amount of protection from further prosecution.

But after William died in 1654, Ann was soon charged with witchcraft.

She declared herself not guilty and agreed to be tried.

As part of her interrogation, she was stripped naked and searched for witch’s marks.

Her house was ransacked for poppets by which she might have been working her evil spells.

Though a prominent and well-connected woman, others were initially afraid to speak on her behalf, lest they, too, be accused of witchcraft.

One prominent citizen, Joshua Scottow, did speak out on her behalf and was swiftly punished.

Scottow was forced to write an apology to the court.

Others then also came out in defense of Hibbins, calling her a “saint,” not a witch.

The defenses did no good, and Hibbins was hanged at the end of May 1656

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