|Death: ||Jun. 19, 1656|
Ann Hibbins (or Hibbons; Hibbens) was executed for witchcraft in Boston, Massachusetts Bay Colony, on June 19, 1656. Her execution by hanging was the third for witchcraft in Boston and predated the Salem Witch Trials.
Hibbins was later fictionalized in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. A wealthy widow, Hibbins was the sister in law by marriage of Massachusetts governor, Richard Bellingham. Her sentence was handed down by Governor John Endicott (also spelled "Endecott")
Ann was twice widowed, first by a man named Moore. Together they had three sons who were all living in England at the time of her death. One son, Jonathan, was particularly favored in her will.
Ann was widowed, secondly, by a wealthy merchant, William Hibbins whose first wife, Hester Bellingham (buried Stokesay, Shropshire on 3 Sep 1634), was the sister of Richard Bellingham, Governor of Massachusetts. He had been a deputy to the General Court and became assistant governor in 1643, and thus was one of the magistrates who condemned Margaret Jones for witchcraft in 1648. Hibbins held the powerful position of assistant until his death in 1654. Humphrey Atherton, who is said to have been "instrumental in bringing about the execution of Ann Hibbins", succeeded him in that position.
In 1640, Hibbins sued a group of carpenters, whom she had hired to work on her house, accusing them of overcharging her. She won the lawsuit, but her actions were viewed as "abrasive", and so she became subjected to an ecclesiastical inquest. Refusing to apologize to the carpenters for her actions, Hibbins was admonished and excommunicated. The church cited her for usurping her husband's authority. Within months of her husband's death, proceeding against her for witchcraft began.
Hibbins was tried and convicted in 1655, but her conviction was set aside. The case was heard again by the General Court. The Court's record from May 14, 1656 said:
Mrs. Ann Hibbins was called forth, appeared at the bar; the indictment against her was read, to which she answered not guilty, and was willing to be tried by God and this Court. The evidences against her were read, the parties witnessing being present, her answers considered on; and the whole Court being met together, by their vote determined that Mrs. Ann Hibbins is guilty of witchcraft, according to the bill of indictment found against her by the jury of life and death. The Governor in open Court pronounced sentence accordingly, declaring she was to go from the bar to the place from whence she came, and from thence to the place of execution, and there to hang till she was dead.
Historians have found two things out of the ordinary about Ann Hibbins' execution: that a woman of her high social standing would have been persecuted as a witch; and that no evidence, contemporary to her and used to convict her, survived.
She had some supporters, at least initially, among them selectman Joshua Scottow, who later apologized to the General Court for his support of Hibbins. Nine months after her execution, Scottow "stated that he did not intend to oppose the proceedings of the General Court in the case of Mrs. Ann Hibbins: "I am cordially sorry that anything from me, either in word or writing, should give offence to the honored Court, my dear brethren in the church, or any others."
Another supporter was a prominent minister, John Norton, who said privately, in the company of another prominent minister, John Wilson, that Ann Hibbins "was hanged for a witch only for having more wit than her neighbors." He further stated that Hibbins had "unhappily guessed that two of her persecutors, whom she saw talking in the street, were talking of her, — which cost her her life."
-- Wilipedia --
William Hibbins (1600 - 1654)
Granary Burying Ground
Plot: Either Buried here or at place of execution
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: P Fazzini
Record added: Jan 16, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 64261891