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Boston Witch Executions

Intolerance and superstition led to several "witch" trials in colonial Boston (similar to Salem Massachusetts). In general, the final result of such trials was the elimination of any person deemed undesirable by the community. Quakers and supposed "witches" were hanged for their beliefs or opinions. In 1656, Anne Hibbins was hanged at Boston Neck for being a witch. Below is a paraphrased excerpt from Rambles Around Old Boston by Edwin M. Bacon (1914):

"Mrs. Anne Hibbons, gentlewoman, was the sister of Governor Bellingham and the wife of William Hibbons. Mr. Hibbons was a very important merchant, and a member of the Court of Assistants. Mrs. Hibbons was a widow when the trouble came upon her. She was clever but opinionated, with a short temper. She was considered to be a scold and gossip by the community.

Old Boston Neck, Where the Gallows Stood
Just South of Old Boston Neck

Her statements were reported to the church, which censured her for quarrelling with her neighbors. The neighbors then accused her of being a "witch," and she was tried by a jury and condemned to death. The verdict had been set aside, but the case was prosecuted again by the General Court. She defended herself ably, but the popular clamor at that time was more than the court could withstand, and she was found guilty again. Governor John Endicott pronounced the sentence of death upon her.

So in June 1656, this spirited woman, who was guilty solely of  'having more wit than her neighbors,' was hanged at Boston Neck as a witch.

Margaret Jones was the first woman hanged as a witch in Boston in 1648, with her "crime" being her ability to prepare herbal remedies and help sick people. Persecution and execution of Quakers happened a lot in Boston also. The least punishment for practicing the Quaker religion was 3 days in jail on a bread and water diet, and a fine of 5 pounds. Margaret Brewster, Quaker, was lashed 20 times in 1677 and dragged behind a cart through the streets of Boston for the crime of disrupting a meeting at the Old South Church while wearing a strange costume in protest of laws against Quakers. Goodwife Glover, an Irish servant, was hanged in 1688 for allegedly stealing some laundry and some odd behavior, which helped precipitate the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692.

Historical Location:

Boston Neck Gallows 
1150-1400 Washington, Boston, MA 02118

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