Ann Glover was born in Ireland as a Roman Catholic. During Cromwell's invasion of Ireland, Ann and her husband were transported as political prisoners to Barbados. Her husband was apparently killed in Barbados for refusing to renounce his Catholic faith.
By 1680, Ann and her daughter were living in Boston, Massachusetts where they worked as housekeepers for John Goodwin. In the summer of 1688 four or five of the Goodwin children became ill after an argument with Glover's daughter and the doctor that was called suggested it was caused by witchcraft. Martha Goodwin, who was thirteen, claimed she became ill after discovering Glover's daughter stealing some laundry.
Glover was arrested and tried for witchcraft. She refused to speak English on the stand as she could scarcely speak it. She spoke her native Irish, instead. Reverend Cotton Mather wrote that Glover was "a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholic and obstinate in idolatry." At trial it was demanded of her to say the Lord's Prayer, she recited it in Irish and broken Latin, but since she had never learned it in English, she could not say it in English.
On November 16, 1688, Glover was hanged in Boston amid mocking shouts from the crowd. A Boston merchant who knew her, Robert Calef, said that "Goody Glover was a despised, crazy, poor old woman, an Irish Catholic who was tried for afflicting the Goodwin children. Her behavior at her trial was like that of one distracted. They did her cruel. The proof against her was wholly deficient. The jury brought her guilty. She was hung. She died a Catholic."
One contemporary writer recorded that, "There was a great concourse of people to see if the Papist would relent, her one cat was there, fearsome to see. They would to destroy the cat, but Mr. Calef would not permit it. Before her executioners she was bold and impudent, making to forgive her accusers and those who put her off. She predicted that her death would not relieve the children saying that it was not she that afflicted them."
Three hundred years later in 1988, the Boston City Council proclaimed November 16 as Goody Glover Day. She is the only victim of the witchcraft hysteria in the Massachusetts Bay Colony to receive such a tribute.
- Cotton Mather, Memorable Providences, Relating to Witchcrafts and Possessions (1689)
- Ann Glover profile at Irish Heritage Trail website
- Historical Records and Studies, Volume 17, pp. 70-78.
- The Genealogical Dictionary of New England (ed. James Savage).
- Magnalia Christi Americana, Cotton Mather, 1702.
- History of the United States, Volume II, Bancroft, p. 52.
- More Wonders of the Invisible World, London, 1700.