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Anna Dolliver (Higginson)

Also Known As: "Ann", "Dolever"
Birthdate: (86)
Birthplace: Guilford, New Haven, Connecticut
Death: 1738 (85)
Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Rev. John Higginson and Sarah Higginson
Wife of William Dolliver
Mother of Sarah Dolliver; Paul Dolliver and Peter Dolliver
Sister of Capt. John Higginson; Sarah Wharton; Thomas Higginson; Francis Higginson; Henry Higginson and 1 other

Occupation: Spinner
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Anna Dolliver

Ann Higginson, daughter of Reverend John Higginson and Sarah Whitfield of Salem Town, Massachusetts, was born 11 October 1652 at Guilford, New Haven, Connecticut; and died at the age of 86 in 1738 at Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts.

On 4 October 1682, she married William Dolliver (17 August 1656 Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts - c.1716) at Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts, with whom she had three children. Court records of 1683 show that complaints were made against William Dolliver for being idle and neglecting his family. In fact, he eventually left the Massachusetts Bay Colony, abandoning Ann and her children with no means of support. Ann was forced to return to her father's home in Salem where he and the town supported them. Her social standing was compromised and her mental state declined.

She was 45 years old and already in shaky mental health, when she was arrested and tried for "Witchcraft on the Bodys of Mary Warren and Susannah Sheldon" on 6 June 1692. Dolliver was accused of wanting to kill her own father out of spite, and of being blamed by the specter of a dead child for its murder. When asked, "Mrs. Dolliver, did you never act witchcraft?" she answered, "Not with the intent to hurt anybody with it." She admitted to having done witchcraft in 1678 to protect herself and her family, but denied that she afflicted her accusers in 1692. Although little documentation about Ann Dolliver's trial has survived, it appears that she was released due to insufficient evidence or because of her questionable mental condition.

Her life did not improve after the trials ended. In a letter to her brother written in August 1693, her father described her as suffering from "overbaring malloncolly, crazed in her understanding." In 1705 she was living with the family of Edward and Sarah Bishop of Rehoboth, formerly of Salem Village. The children probably continued to live with their grandfather, who mentioned them in his will.

Marriage and Children

  1. William Dolliver (1656 - c.1716) married 4 October 1682 Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts
    1. Peter Dolliver (1680 Gloucester, Massachusetts - 1764)
    2. Sarah Dolliver
    3. Paul Dolliver


  • Alternate year of birth: 1651
  • Recorded year of marriage (1682) conflicts with date of birth of first child, Peter Dolliver (1680)

Sources and Further Reading

  • Babson, John J. History of the Town of Gloucester, Cape Ann, including the Town of Rockport. Gloucester, MA: P. Smith, 1972. Print.
  • Boyer, Paul S., and Stephen Nissenbaum. Salem Possessed; the Social Origins of Witchcraft. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1974. Print.
  • Boyer, Paul S., and Stephen Nissenbaum. The Salem Witchcraft Papers: Verbatim Transcripts of the Legal Documents of the Salem Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692. New York: Da Capo, 1977. Print.
  • Buckstad, Kristin. "Ann Dolliver." Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature, An Undergraduate Course, University of Virginia. Spring 2001.
  • Burr, George Lincoln. "A MODEST INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE OF WITCHCRAFT, BY JOHN HALE, 1702." Narratives of the Witchcraft Cases, 1648-1706. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1914. 397--. Print.
  • Courtroom examination of Ann Dolliver. Boston Public Library Department of Rare Books and Documents.
  • Higginson, Thomas W. Descendants of the Reverend Francis Higginson, First "teacher" in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of Salem, Massachusetts and Author of "New-Englands Plantation" (1630) (1910). Massachusetts: Private, 1910. Internet Archive. University of California: California Digital Library, 1 Aug. 2008. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
  • Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. New York: Norton, 1987. Print.
  • Reis, Elizabeth. Spellbound: Women and Witchcraft in America. Page 2
  • Roach, Marilynne K. The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege. Page 164. "... about ten years earlier she [Ann Higginson] had married the improvident mariner William Dolliver, who quickly spent most of her money. After he left for parts unknown, she and her children returned to her father's Salem household ..."
  • Swan, Marshall. "The Bedevilment of Cape Ann (1692)." Essex Institute Historical Collections 117:3 (July 1981): 153-177.
  • Upham, C. W. "Letter from Rev. John Higginson to his son Nathaniel Higginson." Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Series Three. 8(1839):182-186.


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Anna Dolliver's Timeline

October 11, 1652
Guilford, New Haven, Connecticut
Age 29
Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts
Age 31
Gloucester, Essex County, Massachusetts
Age 32
Gloucester, MA, United States
Age 85
Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts