Ann Foster

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For the fictional character, see Anne Foster.

Ann Foster (1617 – December 3, 1692) was an Andover widow accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials.

Born in 1617, Ann (or Annis) came to Massachusetts from London in 1635 on the ship Abigail. Her mother, Ann Hooker, was a sister of Rev. Thomas Hooker, and her father was Deacon George Alcock.[1] She married Andrew Foster and settled 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 December 3, 1692, before the trials were discredited and ended.

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.


  1. ^ The Foster Genealogy (837 A.D. - 1998 A.D.) Andrew Foster or Forster, Andover Branch, Edson Foster Myer, 1999, NEHGR, p. 38.

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