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