My Great…Aunt Ann Foster, Convicted Witch of Salem

As I’ve been poking around my family tree, I’ve been mostly focusing on my direct ancestors, but not their siblings. But as I looked into the records of Deacon George Alcock and his wife Anne Hooker Alcock, parents of my 9th great-grandfather Dr. John Alcock, also had a daughter named Ann. Ann Alcock Foster was my 9th great-aunt, and she was accused and convicted of being a witch during the Salem Witch Trials.

Salem Witch Trials

I was intrigued by the short version of her story as it was told on her Find a Grave page, which inspired me to seek out the transcripts from her trial. Ann was accused of being a witch, but she initially refused to confess. Her daughter (Mary Lacey) and her granddaughter (also Mary Lacey) had also been accused of witchcraft. The elder Mary Lacey, Ann’s daughter, accused her mother of witchcraft during her testimony in July 1692 – after her own daughter, the younger Mary Lacey, had accused her.

The Story Within the Salem Witch Trials Transcripts

When I quote the transcripts of the court testimony, I am translating into modern English as best I can. The original text is very difficult to read.

During her testimony, Ann’s 15-year-old granddaughter said to her, “O Grandmother, why did you give me to the Devil? Why did you persuade me, and o Grandmother,do not you deny it! You have been a very bad Woman in your time…But as for you, Old Woman, though you have Shown Something of Relenting. Yet you retain a lie in the mouth. We desire You therefore to be free in the appearance of God and tell us the truth in this Matter!”

The “lie” Ann told was that she was not a witch. We know, of course, that she spoke the truth. None of them were witches.

Ann was tortured for days before confessing. She stated that the devil had come to her as a bird, and that it was the devil that told her to bewitch others in the town. In defense of her family, Ann testified in this way:

“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 favor 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.”
“I did not know it.”

“How long have you known your daughter to be engaged?”
“I cannot tell, nor have I any knowledge of it at all.”

“Did you see your daughter at the meeting?”
“No.”

“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.”
“I know none of their names that were there, but only Goody Carrier.”

“Do not you acknowledge that you did so about 13 years ago?”
“No, and I know no more of my daughter’s being a witch than what day I shall die upon.”

Her daughter was then brought in. She ranted against her mother, “Oh! mother! How do you do? We have left Christ, and the devil hath got 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.”

It was then that the court again turned on Ann.

“Goody Foster! you cannot get rid of this snare, your heart and mouth is not open.”
“I did not see the devil, I was praying to the Lord.”
“What Lord?”
“To God.”
“What God do witches pray to?”
“I cannot tell, the Lord help me.”

Ann’s confession precluded any sort of punishment being levied against her daughter and granddaughter. She signed her confession on July 21, 1692 and was sentenced to execution.

It’s been suggested that Ann, as an aged widow, did not have all her wits about her. She was 75 years old during the trials, and she may have been highly suggestible. If dementia had set in, she may have been convinced that she had, indeed, done all of the things the other villagers have accused her of – consorting with the devil and flying around on sticks. Her memory couldn’t recall the events, but if her daughter and granddaughter said she’d done them, maybe she had.

Ann Foster’s Name Cleared

After she died in jail on December 3, 1692 – 21 weeks after her trial – her son Abraham would come to petition for her exoneration. Her name was, indeed, cleared – alas too late to save her life. He was reimbursed for the expenses incurred for her incarceration and burial, cold comfort after his mother’s unjust death.


After taking the time to piece together this story, I happened upon a narrative of the Salem Witch Trials via Google Books, which is worth a read.

There is a chance that my lineage is incorrectly traced back to the Fosters, on account of some missing records from the early 19th century that may later find the wrong parents attributed to one Calvin Blanchard. But if the information I have is accurate, I can trace the line from Blanchard > Hunt > Alcock  – Foster. I’ll be disappointed if the connection is disproven in the future, but I still feel richer from having discovered this story. And I wish I’d paid more attention when we rented The Crucible on DVD.

Christina Gleason (975 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.


Comments

  1. I am interested in Ann Foster too as part of a general interest in the witch trials, but I also have a close friend who is a descendant of hers. But I’m curious – what documentation proves her maiden name was Alcock? I know that Annis Alcock arrived in Massachusetts in 1635, but I ahve yet to find documentation that she is the Ann who married Andrew Foster of Andover.

  2. L.Bandagski (Foster) says

    I too am a descendent of Ann Foster…good reading!

    • Anna Foster is my husband? 10th great grandmother. Would love to know who reading this is related to her. We are in the midst of a family genealogy search and may be able to share info. My email is laflick@yahoo.com.

      • amos foster says

        I am not 100% sure if I am related.. I do have a family history book, which begins with the narrative “Card Foster and his Mother left Salem Mass. to move to Richmond, Ri in 1692- does she have a son or grandson named “Card”?

  3. joel hooker says

    Reverend Thomas Hooker (Puritan preacher) Founder of Hartford,Connecticut, was Ann Hooker’s brother, and Ann Fosters mom, and is my Grandfather eleven generations ago, I have read this account years ago, and have just reread it, very sad ending of her life. It does appear you would be related.

  4. Hello. Dr. John Hooker is my 13th Great Grandfather. I had been contacted by a distant cousin who was researching Anne Foster and wanted to see if we were connected. Like you, I was interested more in a direct line and did not add Anne. But she will be there now.

  5. Allan Gilbertson says

    There is no credible evidence that Ann was the daughter of George Alcock. See Robert Charles Anderson’s The Great Migration begins sketch on George Alcock. No daughters are listed. Robert C. Anderson is one of the best and most highly regarded genealogists of our times. If there had been evidence that Ann was George’s daughter she would have been listed.

    • Sally Morello says

      I am descended from Ann (Alcock) Foster (1617-1692). If she was the daughter of Deacon George Alcock (Abt 1601-1640) he would have been only 16 when she was born. Also, records show George Alcock married Ann Hooker in 1625. George Alcock and Ann (Alcock) Hooker came from England to Roxbury, MA in 1630 with their son. There is no mention of a daughter Ann. The Will of Deacon George Alcock mentions his son John, but there is no mention of a daughter Ann. Ann (Alcock) Foster died after Deacon George Alcock so this is a little odd. I question whether Deacon George Alcock and Ann Hooker are the parents of Ann (Alcock) Foster. Although it appears they are the parents of John Alcock.

  6. James Leone says

    If you got your Genealogy right, then I just wanted to say…hello cousin ! 🙂

  7. Ann was twice my 10th great grandmother, through her daughters Mary Foster-Lacy and Sarah Foster-Kemp. Mary’s daughter, Mary married Sarah’s son Zerubbabel Kemp, Sr. (first cousins). Their son, Zerubbabel, Jr. was my 7th great grandfather on my dad’s mother’s family.

    I’ve been up to visit Salem twice in the last three years. The location of the prison Ann was tortured in and died in is at 3 Federal St.. There’s nothing left of the prison there now. A later prison was built in the 1800’s and sat next to the Howard Street Cemetery. We had lunch at the A&B Burger restaurant, which sits on the latter prison’s site last June after touring the cemetery. The real Gallows Hill must have been somewhere near the water from what I’ve read, and not near where the water tower is now (I went there too).

    We’ve been to the witch trial museum and also toured the other old cemetery next to the witch trial memorial. Ann’s name is not one of those on the stone “benches” at the memorial, but I think she deserves a place there! She died from the ordeal, just as those memorialized there did, but she had to suffer a lot longer than they did. I wish we could petition to have her name added to the memorial somehow. We don’t know where Ann was buried, or if her body was unceremoniously tossed into a ditch like the other innocent victims’ bodies were thrown. Her son, Abraham had to pay the fees for her imprisonment and cleared her name from the charges legally after the trials were discredited in 1693.

    Thanks for posting.

    • We also went to the Founders Monument in downtown Hartford, CT last June. 25 of the names inscribed on the monument were my ancestors on both my dad’s and mom’s famiiles. The only remaining headstone from any of them is Timothy Stanley, my mom’s ancestor. Rev. Thomas Hooker was the leading founder of Hartford. He was my 2x 11th great uncle if Ann was his niece.

      • Theresa Terry says

        We visited Hartford and Thomas Hooker was one of my Great Grandfather’s. We visited the burial ground and it was so interesting to see all of the graves of my ancestors. I took photos of myself and my son with his statue.

    • Barb (Arthur) LeRoy says

      You want to start a petition, I’ll sign it. Ann was my 9 great grandmother. My 8 great grandfather, Andrew, was the oldest son, but died in 1697. I’m thinking he and Abraham bore the burden of taking care of their mother while she was in jail, and frankly, I think the stress helped lead to Andrew’s death.

    • Hi cousins, Ann Alcock Foster is my 10 great grandmother. It would be great to get in contact with you and Barb (Arthur) LeRoy and others.

    • Catherine OHare Adams says

      I too am directly related to Mary Lacey thru Mary Kemp Greene my great great grandmother. I am searching for info on her husband’s ( Vernon Greene born about 1830) parents as no records can be found. If anyone has any info please let me know. We are taking my mom, Audrey E. Greene O’Hare to Salem and staying on the wharf at the end of August. Any suggestions on places we should visit to connect to the Alcott/ Foster/ Lacey/ Kemp family would be appreciated.

      • Michelle Thor says

        I am directly related to Ann Foster she is my 10th Great-Grandmother on my grandma mothers side. The family tree that i have discovered is that Mary Lacey Foster sr. had Mary Lacey Jr( marrid name kemp )who had a son Zerubbabel Kemp Jr. of 1705-1762. Zerubbabel Kemp husband to Mary Lacey Jr. were cousin. Zerubbabel Kemp was the son of Mary Lacey Sr. sister Sarah Foster( Kemp). I have no record of a Mary Kemp Greene or an Audrey E greene in my family tree…but i have not added any brothers or sisters but if it is a link i dont belive it would be directly related.

  8. Maria Chambers says

    Ann Alcock Foster is my husband’s 10th g-grandmother. Thank you for sharing the story. Very tragic.

  9. Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, edited by Bernard Rosenthal et al (Cambridge University Press, 2009) is the most complete and accurate collection of the trial transcripts.

    Record 905: Petition of Abraham Foster for Restitution of Ann Foster
    Ann’s son is asking for money from the government for the charges the family paid for Ann’s imprisonment. It also includes 2-10-0 “to money which I was forc’d to pay the Keeper before I could have the dead body of my mother to bury.” (p. 870).

    So, we do know the family buried Ann Foster in a respectful manner, just not where.

    • Pam Gerry says

      Ann Foster was my 11th Greatgrandmother. Her daughter Sarah was my 10th GG.

      • Michelle Thor says

        I am a directly related as well. Sarah foster(kemp) is my 9th great-grandmother on my mothers mother side.

        • I also am a 10th great grandchild of Ann Foster through her daughter Sarah Foster Kemp, and through Sarah’s daughter Abigail, who married James Blood of Groton.

    • Barb (Arthur) LeRoy says

      I’m a direct descendant, through Andrew, Abraham’s brother (who died in 1697). I’ve looked for more information on where she was interred, and haven’t found it.

    • in find a grave it shows the following about Ann’s burial place.

      Name: Ann Foster
      Maiden Name: Alcock
      Birth Date: 7 May 1617
      Birth Place: England
      Death Date: 3 Dec 1692
      Death Place: Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States of America
      Cemetery: Burying Point Cemetery
      Burial or Cremation Place: Salem, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States of America
      Has Bio?: Y
      Father: George Alcock
      Mother: Anne Alcock
      Spouse: Andrew Foster
      Children: Sarah Kemp
      URL: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-

      https://search.ancestry.com/collections/60525/records/102377336

  10. Theresa Terry says

    Ann Alcock Foster was my 9th Great Grandmother. Guess that means we’re cousins. I haven’t gotten to visit Salem but I would love to. I would have been right there being hung with them since I practiced herbal and Holistic medicine for many years. Thanks for all the information. Theresa

    • Barb (Arthur) LeRoy says

      Okay, Cousin,
      How are you related to Ann? I’m descended through her son Andrew. Another of our mutual cousins did get to Andover and saw Foster Pond–yes, it is still there–and had a local ask if she were a descendant of “Old Andrew”.

    • Michelle Thor says

      ann is my 10th great grandmother on my mothers mother side

  11. Sarah McDonnell says

    I guess I’ll through my hat in the Ring, Ann Alcock Foster also ..9 Great Grandmother? I am a descendant of Sarah Foster. I’d be curious if any of you are still in Massachusetts? I am.

  12. Barb (Arthur) LeRoy says

    Glad to see so many cousins here, as Ann Alcock Foster was my 9-great grandmother as well. Andrew Foster, her son, is how I’m connected to her. I have my own theory as to why Ann was accused. You know what her husband, Old Andrew, died in 1785, aged 100 or more years of age. Around four years later, her daughter, Hannah, was murdered by her husband, Hugh, in a drunken rage in a dispute over property. She was pregnant at the time. Hugh was executed, and the children scattered to the four winds. So we have a woman who has lost her husband, then her daughter, then her grandchildren. I’ve read that she stopped attending Meeting around this time–and who could blame her? So that would have drawn attention to her as a possible “witch”. Anyway, when Mary Lacey, her other daughter, was accused, I could certainly see Ann sacrificing herself for her daughter and granddaughter. She was likely still in deep grief over her losses, and didn’t want any more of her family to suffer.

    • I am related through Hugh Stone (Sr) and Hannah Foster via their son Hugh Stone (Jr). I haven’t made it out to Salem area yet. Can anyone tell me where on line I can find the record for the trial of Hugh for the murder of Hannah. I know he had a problem with drinking and had been in troble many times for it with the church. I also feel someone needs to address the fact she is not listed with the others. She suffered longer than anyone else with the lenght of time she spent in the jail.You want to start a petition, I’ll sign it. Yes, the family had to “PAY” the fine that covered the cost of them being in Salem prison, even the latter ones who were found not guilty in order to have been released. If you read the time line of the trials it states that in 1711 the Legislature of the Province of Massachusetts Bay restored all rights to thse who had been accused in the 1692 witchcraft trials. This included Ann Foster and her daughter Mary Lacey (Sr) and gave compensation to the famlies in the amount of L600.

    • Michelle Thor says

      ann alock foster is my 9th great grandmother as well but i am related by Mary lacey Jr.

  13. I am also related to Ann Foster. Her husband is related to me.

  14. Ann Alcock Foster is my 10 – Great Grandmother. Her daughter Sarah Foster Kemp is my 9 – Great Grandmother. Thank you for the translation of the story.

  15. Ann Alcock Foster is my 10th great grandmother through her daughter, Sarah Foster Kemp and Samuel Kemp. Their daughter Abigaill married my 8th great grandfather, James Blood. This is great information and I am so interested to find this out.

    • I have the same lineage through James Blood, and after that from his son John Blood, and John’s son Moses Blood, Moses’s daughter Sarah Blood who married Amos Holden Sr and so on.

  16. Marianne Knowles says

    Ann Foster lived in Andover, Massachusetts, also in Essex County, and was brought to Salem for the trials. The pond where she and her husband settled still bears their name. Descendants still live in town.
    The whole episode started in Salem Village, which is now called Danvers.
    http://www.fosterspond.org/history.html

  17. Greetings Cousins! Ann Foster was my 9th Great Grandmother. I descend from Sarah.

  18. I HAVE JUST DISCOVERED THAT I ALSO AM RELATED TO ANN FOSTER.

  19. Carol Thompson says

    Ann Foster was my 7th great grandmother. I descend from Hannah.

  20. Katherine Lunsford Rogers says

    Looks like I am related to her too – she is my 12th great grandmother

  21. Theresa Barrow says

    She was my many times back Great Grandmother so we might be related.

  22. Melanie E Goodwin says

    Ann was my 11th great grandmother. I wish we knew where she was buried. It seems the listing of “Old Burying Point” is incorrect – though some of her descendants may be there. I’m visiting this weekend to see.

  23. Karen Foster Montgomery says

    I don’t know about Ann Alcock Foster’s parents, but know this;
    Ann Alcock arrived in New England at the age of 18 years on the ship “Abigail” on the 10th July 1635/6. (The Complete Book of Emigrants, Peter Wilson Coldham page 143).

  24. My 10 x Great grandmother was Ann Foster. Her cousin was also tried, convicted as a witch, and torchured to death.

  25. Alison Storry-Foster says

    Hello. I am also a relative of Ann Foster and would very much love to meet some of the same!! On December 27,1929, my grandfather John Henry Foster was washed overboard in the North Sea off a fishing trawler. My dad named after him was only 2 years old. His mum remarried which was apparently a no no and the rest of the Foster family refused any contact. My dad never knew his relations on that side of the family and I’m hoping I can learn something more about them.

  26. Jennifer H says

    Hello All ,

    Ann foster was my 10th Great Grandmother . Interesting reading.
    I plan to go to Salem next year .
    Such an interesting family history.

  27. Crystal Dunn says

    Ann Foster was my 10th great grandmother. I descend from Andrew

  28. Andrew and Ann were my 9th great grandparents. She was a victim of religious zealotry of the worst kind.

  29. Wow so many relatives. Ann was my 9th great grandmother as well. I’ve found so many interesting things while researching my family tree, such as, the earliest relative I’ve traced to the U.S. was in the 1570’s almost 50 years prior to the Mayflower.

  30. Ann is my 10xs Great Grandmother who was my 9xs Great Grandmother (Sarah Kemp) mother. My maiden name is Kemp. I’m so sorry that happened to her, but she was a strong woman.

  31. Stephen Connacher says

    I have at least two direct ancestors who were accused at Salem: Ann Foster and Rebecca Eames.

  32. Joan Reading Asboth says

    Ann was my 11th great aunt who I just discovered while doing genealogy research! What a shock and such a sad commentary on the intolerance and ignorance of those who came to this country for religious and other freedoms. She endured pain and suffered to sacrifice herself for her family. Her name should be included.

  33. Ann is also my 11th great grandmother

  34. Megan payne says

    She was my 14th great grand mother

  35. Ann Alcock is my 10th great grandmother. You should also look up the history of Foster’s Pond in Andover. The pond is believed to have been named for Andrew Foster, who died in 1685 at the age of 106 (now believed to be 100 with the last zero not fully closed making it look like 106). form hi will “leaving to my deare and loving wife Ann Foster, the use and sole liberty of living in that end of my house I now live in. While there is no way to know where their house was, it is nice to find the pond and know that you are on the land that she once owned.

  36. Anne Alcock Foster was the sister of my 10th great grandmother, Frances Alcock Hutchins, who was also accused of witchcraft at the Salem witch trials. Anne, Frances and John (just 4 years old when George Alcock and Anne Hooker Alcock came over on with the Winthrop Fleet in 1630) stayed behind in England, possibly to take care of their younger brother.
    Frances Alcock Hutchins eventually came over on the Bevis with her future husband, John Hutchins. All of the Hutchins/Alcock/Foster families are intertwined.

  37. I am a descendant of Ann foster. By way of her son Andrew foster and his wife Mary Russ. Thank you for this!

  38. Joan Wenzel says

    I am a direct descendant of Ann Foster “Goody”, AKA Anne Hooker. Would love to connect.

  39. Nicole Butts says

    Dr John Alcock was my 9th great grandfather.

  40. Michael Balk says

    Ann Foster is my 8th grandmother. My grandmother was a Posten . In 1873 William Posten married Nettie Foster. And so it goes back to Andrew Foster. I am some what new at this so if anyone has trees that they are will to share please forward them to me it would be greatly appreciated. mzbalk@hotmail.com

  41. Tamisa Besaw says

    I’m a descendant of Ann Alcock Foster through her daughter, Hannah Stone. Hannah was murdered by her husband, but not before they had children. I haven’t got all of the relations in my head (I do have copies of the papers containing all of the marriages, births, and deaths), but Henry Dessex Stone was the first governor of the Florida Territory (before it became a state). His daughter, Jincey Stone was my great, great grandmother (there may be another great in there). At any rate, we must be related. I’ve made a hash of my attempt to explain things, but there you go.

  42. Alicia Chiasson says

    I’m also a descendant of Ann Alcock Foster through her son Andrew. I’m French Canadian so I was very surprised when I found that my great-grandmother’s great-geandmother was the granddaughter of an American Revolutionary army captain who’s son somehow ended up a boatbuilder in Nova Scotia. In that American branch I found a lot of ancestry in Andover and Salem. Ann Foster is my 12th great-grandmother.

  43. THIS IS CRAZY READ ..She was my Great Grandmother x12 on my Dads Side ..MY great grandfather on my moms side was the Curwins( George and John) the Judges that tortured and executed them. I actually found a document my Great Gpal signed against her my great Gmal,,,How crazy is this

  44. ..She was my Great Grandmother x12 on my Dads Side ..MY great grandfather on my moms side was the Curwins( George and John) the Judges that tortured and executed them. I actually found a document my Great Gpal signed against her my great Gmal,,,How crazy is this

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