Anne Hibbins was not popular in her Boston community in the mid-1600s. There was her privilege, her demanding standards, and her penchant for speaking her mind.
When Hibbins’ husband died in 1654, she became vulnerable—on June 19, 1656, she was hanged for being a witch. It would be some 35 years before rampant accusations of witchcraft consumed the nearby town of Salem, but Hibbins’ conviction would lay bare the vulnerability of women in patriarchal New England of the 1600s. It was later said that Hibbins “was hanged for a witch, only for having more wit than her neighbors.”
“Traditionally, witchcraft was considered a ‘working class crime,’” says Emerson Baker, a historian at Salem State University and author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience. “That is, most of the accused were the poorer members of society. And, when wealthy and prominent people were accused, they usually were found not guilty. Anne Hibbins was the first high-status New Englander to be executed for witchcraft.”
Learn more about the trials that led to Anne Hibbins’ conviction and hanging on History.com’s This Wealthy Woman Was Hanged as a Witch for Speaking Her Mind.