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About Ann Foster
Ann Foster (1617 – 1692) was an Andover widow accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Daughter of Deacon George Alcock (1581-1640) and Anne Hooker (1586-1667), Ann was born 7 May 1617 in England; and died 3 December 1692 in jail at Salex, Essex, Massachusetts. She had steadfastly refused to confess to witchcraft even under torture, until her daughter and granddaughter were accused. Ann's daughter then accused Ann in order to save herself. At that point, Ann Foster confessed in order to save her daughter and granddaughter. She was convicted, but died in prison while awaiting execution. She is buried at Burying Point Cemetery, Salex, Essex County, Massachusetts.
Marriage and Children
- Andrew Foster (1579 - 1685)
- Hannah Foster (1633 - 1703)
- Andrew Foster 1640-1697)
- Sarah Foster (1642 - 1697)
- infant Foster (1647- )
- Abraham Foster (1648-1723)
- Mary Foster (1652-1707)
Ann was a sister of Rev. Thomas Hooker, and her father was Deacon George Alcock. (sic: np proof of these parents) She emigrated with her parents from London to Massachusetts in 1635 aboard the Abigail, eventually marrying Andrew Foster and settling in Andover, Massachusetts. They had five children: Andrew; Abraham; Sarah Kemp of Charlestown; the late Hannah Stone, whose husband, Hugh Stone, killed her in a drunken rage in 1689 and was hanged; and Mary Lacey. (Mary Lacey and her daughter, also named Mary Lacey, were accused of witchcraft as well.)
In 1692, when a woman named Elizabeth Ballard came down with a fever that baffled doctors, witchcraft was suspected, and a search for the responsible witch began. Two afflicted girls from Salem village, Ann Putnam and Mary Walcott, were taken to Andover to seek out the witch, and fell into fits at the sight of Ann Foster. Ann, 72, a widow of seven years, was arrested and taken to Salem prison.
A careful reading of the trial transcripts reveals that Ann resisted confessing to the 'crimes' she was accused of, despite being "put to the question" (i.e., tortured) multiple times over a period of days. However, her resolve broke when her daughter Mary Lacey, similarly accused of witchcraft, accused her own mother of the crime in order to save herself and her child. The transcripts reveal the anguish of a mother attempting to shield her child and grandchild by taking the burden of guilt upon herself.
Convicted, Ann died in the Salem jail after 21 weeks on 3 December 1692, before the trials were discredited and ended. Her son Abraham had to pay 2 pounds 10 shillings to obtain his mother's body for burial. Ann's son, Abraham, later petitioned the authorities to clear her name ("remove the attainder") and reimburse the family for the expenses associated with her incarceration and burial. On 17th December, 1711, Anne Foster's legal heirs were awarded 6 pounds 10 shillings compensation by the General Assembly of Massachusetts for her death.
Examination of Ann Foster, Mary Lacey, Sr., and Mary Lacey, Jr.
21st July, 1692. Before Major Gidney, Mr. Hawthorne, Mr. Corwin and Capt. Higginson.
Q. Goody Foster! you remember we have three times spoken with you, and do you now remember what you then confessed to us? -- You have been engaged in very great wickedness, and some have been left to hardness of heart to deny; but it seems that God will give you more favour than others, inasmuch as you relent. But your daughter here hath confessed some things that you did not tell us of. Your daughter was with you and Goody Carrier, when you did ride upon the stick. A. I did not know it. Q. How long have you known your daughter to be engaged? A. I cannot tell, nor have I any knowledge of it at all. Q. Did you see your daughter at the meeting? A. No. Q. Your daughter said she was at the witches meeting, and that you yourself stood at a distance off and did not partake at that meeting; and you said so also; give us a relation from the beginning until now. A. I know none of their names that were there, but only Goody Carrier. Q. Would you know their faces if you saw them? A. I cannot tell. Q. Where there not two companies in the field at the same time? A. I remember no more.
-- Mary Warren, one of the afflicted, said that Goody Carrier's shape told her, that Goody Foster had made her daughter a witch. --
Q. Do not you acknowledge that you did so about 13 years ago? A. No, and I know no more of my daughter's being a witch than what day I shall die upon. Q. Are you willing your daughter should make a full and free confession? A. Yes. Q. Are you willing to do so too? A. Yes. Q. You cannot expect peace of conscience without a free confession. A. If I knew any thing more, I would speak it to the utmost.
-- Goody Lacey, the daughter, called in, began thus; "Oh! mother! how do you do? We have left Christ, and the devil hath gat hold of us. How shall I get rid of this evil one? I desire God to break my rocky heart that I may get the victory this time." --
Q. Goody Foster! you cannot get rid of this snare, your heart and mouth is not open. A. I did not see the devil, I was praying to the Lord. Q. What Lord? A. To God. Q. What God do witches pray to? A. I cannot tell, the Lord help me. Q. Goody Lacey! had you no discourse with your mother when riding? A. No, I think I had not a word. Q. Who rid foremost on that stick to the village? A. I suppose my mother.
-- Goody Foster said, that Goody Carrier was foremost --
Q. Goody Lacey! how many years ago since they were baptized? A. Three or four years ago, I suppose. Q. Who baptized them? A. The old serpent. Q. How did he do it? A. He dipped their heads in the water, saying, they were his and that he had power over them. Q. Where was this? A. At Fall's river. Q. How many were baptized that day? A. Some of the chief; I think they were six baptized. Q. Name them. A. I think they were of the higher powers.
-- Mary Lacey, the grand-daughter, was brought in, and Mary Warren fell into a violent fit.
Q. How dare you come in here, and bring the devil with you to afflict these poor creatures?
-- Lacey laid her hand on Warren's arm, and she recovered from her fit. --
Q. You are here accused of practising witchcraft upon Goody Ballard; which way do you do it? A. I cannot tell. Where is my mother that made me a witch, and I knew it not? Q. Can you look upon that maid Mary Warren, and not hurt her? Look upon her in a friendly way.
-- She, trying so to do, struck her down with her eyes.
Q. Do you acknowledge now you are a witch? A. Yes. Q. How long have you been a witch? A. Not above a week. Q. Did the devil appear to you? A. Yes. Q. In what shape? A. In the shape of a horse. Q. What did he say to you? A. He bid me not to be afraid of any thing, and he would not bring me out, but he has proved a liar from the beginning. Q. When was this? A. I know not; above a week. Q. Did you set your hand to the book? A. No. Q. Did he bid you worship him? A. Yes, he bid me also afflict persons. You are now in the way to obtain mercy if you will confess and repent. A. She said, the Lord help me. Q. Do not you desire to be saved by Christ? A. Yes. Q. Then you must confess freely what you know in this matter. A. I was in bed and the devil came to me and bid me obey him and I should want for nothing, and he would not bring me out. Q. But how long ago? A. A Little more than a year. Q. Was that the first time? A. Yes. Q. How long was you gone from your father, when you ran away? A. Two days. Q. Where had you your food? A. At John Stone's. Q. Did the Devil appear to you then, when you was abroad? A. No, but he put such thoughts in my mind as not to obey my parents. Q. Who did the devil bid you afflict? A. Timothy Swan. Richard Carrier comes often a nights and has me to afflict persons. Q. Where do ye go? A. To Goody Ballard's sometimes. Q. How many of you were there at a time? A. Richard Carrier and his mother, and my mother and grandmother.
-- Upon reading over the confession so far, Goody Lacey, the mother, owned this last particular.
Q. How many more witches are there in Andover? A. I know no more, but Richard Carrier.
Anne Foster's confession
"The Devil appeared to her in the shape of a bird at several times, such a bird as she never saw the like before; and she had this gift (viz.,of striking the afflicted down with her eye) ever since. Being asked why she thought that bird was the Devil, she answered, because he came white and vanished away black; and that the Devil told her she should have this gift, and that she must believe him, and told her she should have prosperity: and she said that he had appeared to her three times, and always as a bird,and the last time about half a year since, and sat upon a table, had two legs and great eyes, and that it was the second time of his appearance that he promised her prosperity. She further stated, that it was Goody Carrier that made her a witch. She told her, that, if she would not be a witch, the Devil would tear her to pieces, and carry her away, at which time she promised to serve the Devil; that she was at the meeting of the witches at Salem Village; that Goody Carrier came, and told her of the meeting, and would have her go: so they got upon sticks,and went said journey, and, being there, did see Mr. Burroughs, the minister, who sake to them all; that there were then twenty -five persons met together; that she tied a knot in a rag, and threw it into the fire to hurt Timothy Swan and that she did hurt the rest that complained of her by squeezing puppets like them, and so almost choked them; that she and Martha Carrier did both ride on a stick or pole when they went to the witch- meeting at Salem Village, and that the stick broke as they were carried in the air above the tops of the trees, and they fell: but she did hang fast about the neck of Goody Carrier; that she had heard some of the witches say that there were three hundred and five in the whole country, and that they would ruin that place, the village; that there were also present at that meeting two men besides Mr. Burroughs, the minister, and one of them had gray hair;and that the discourse among the witches at the meeting in Salem Village was, that they would afflict there to set up the Devil's kingdom."
Petition of Abraham Foster - Case of Ann Foster
The Honorable Committee now Sitting at Salem Sept. 13, 1710 Whereas my Mother Anne Foster of Andover suffered Imprisonment 21 weeks and upon herTryall was condemned for Supposed witchcraft, upon such evidence as is now Generally thought Insufficient And died in Prison. I being well perswaded of my mothers Innocency of the Crime for which she is accused.
- Poet Robert Frost
- President Chester Arthur
Some sources indicate that, instead of coming from London in 1635 on the ship Abigail, Ann was born in Andover. This is probably a result a mixup with her daughter, also named 'Ann', who was born in Andover.
- Wiki profile: Ann Foster
- Find A Grave Memorial# 17330119
- Alcock Wikitree
- Hutchinson, Thomas, and John Hutchinson. The History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, from 1749 to 1774, Comprising a Detailed Narrative of the Origin and Early Stages of the American Revolution. London: Murray, 1828. Print.
- Roberts, Gary Boyd. Ancestors of American Presidents. Carol F. Karlsen:The Devil in the Shape of a Woman; Memorials of the Early Settlers of Andover, p. 99
- Upham, Charles Wentworth. Salem Witchcraft. N.p.: F. Ungar Pub., 1959. Print.
Accused of witchcraft. Died in Salem jail.
Ann Foster's Timeline
May 7, 1617
Andover, Massachusetts Bay Colony
May 23, 1642
Andover, Massachusetts Bay Colony
Andover, Essex, Massachusetts
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
July 9, 1652
Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts
December 3, 1692
Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts
Salem, Essex , Masachusetts, United States