Ann Foster

Salem Witch Trials - Key People

Salem Witch Trials - an Examination
Salem Witch Trials - an Examination. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Ann Foster Facts

Known for: in the 1692 Salem witch trials 
Age at time of Salem witch trials: about 75
Dates:  1617 – December 3, 1692
Also known as:  Anne Foster

Ann Foster Before the Salem Witch Trials

Ann Foster was born in England. She emigrated from London on the Abigail in 1635.  Her husband was Andrew Foster, and together they had five children and lived in Andover, Massachusetts.  Andrew Foster died in 1685.

One daughter, Hannah Stone, had been killed by her husband in 1689; the husband, Hugh Stone, was hanged for that crime.  Another daughter was Mary Lacey, who played a part in the witch trials of 1692, as did her daughter, also named Mary Lacey. (They are referred to here as Mary Lacey Sr. and Mary Lacey Jr.)   The other grown children of Ann Foster were Andrew and Abraham and a third daughter, Sarah Kemp, who live din Charlestown.

Ann Foster and the Salem Witch Trials

Elizabeth Ballard, another Andover resident, had a fever in 1692.  Doctors could not figure out the cause, and suspected witchcraft.  The doctors, knowing of the witchcraft trials in nearby Salem, called in Ann Putnam Jr. and Mary Wolcott, to see if they could identify the source of the witchcraft.

The two girls fell into fits when they saw Ann Foster, a widow in her 70s.  On July 15, she was arrested and delivered to the jail in Salem.

On July 16 and 18, Ann Foster was examined; she resisted confessing to the crimes. Joseph Ballard, husband of Elizabeth Ballard whose fever triggered the accusation against Ann Foster, swore a complaint on July 19 against Mary Lacey Sr., Ann Foster's daughter, and Mary Lacey Jr., the 15-year-old granddaughter of Ann Foster.

  On the 21st, Mary Lacey Jr. was arrested.  Mary Lacey Jr., Ann Foster, Richard Carrier and Andrew Carrier were examined that day by John Hathorne, Jonathan Corwin and John Higginson.  Mary Lacey Jr. confessed and accused her mother of witchcraft.  Mary Lacey Sr. was then examined by Bartholomew Gedney, Hathorne and Corwin.  Mary Lacey Sr., probably meaning to save herself, then accused her mother of witchcraft.  Ann Foster at that time confessed, probably trying to save her daughter.

Ann Foster and her daughter Mary Lacey Sr. also implicated Martha Carrier; Carrier had been held since May and her trial was in August.

On September 13, Ann Foster was formally accused by Mary Walcott, Mary Warren and Elizabeth Hubbard.  On September 17, the court tried and convicted Rebecca Eames, Abigail Faulkner, Ann Foster, Abigail Hobbs, Mary Lacey, Mary Parker, Wilmott Redd, Margaret Scott and Samuel Wardwell, and they were condemned to be executed.

The last hangings in that year’s witch craze was on September 22.  Ann Foster (as well as her daughter Mary Lacey) languished in jail, but were not executed, as the religious and government figures tried to decide how to proceed.  On December 3, 1692, Ann Foster died in prison.

Ann Foster After the Trials

In 1711, the legislature of the Province of Massachusetts Bay restored all rights to many of those who had been accused in the 1692 witch trials. Included were George Burroughs, John Proctor, George Jacob, John Willard, Giles and Martha CoreyRebecca NurseSarah Good, Elizabeth How, Mary Easty, Sarah Wilds, Abigail Hobbs, Samuel Wardell, Mary Parker, Martha Carrier, Abigail Faulkner, Anne Foster, Rebecca Eames, Mary Post, Mary Lacey, Mary Bradbury and Dorcas Hoar.

Motives

It is not clear why Ann Foster should have been among the accused.  She may have been, as an elderly woman, simply a convenient target for the accusers.

More on the Salem Witch Trials

    Key People in the Salem Witch Trials