Monday, June 29, 2009

New England's Catholic Martyr

I found this interesting passage online recently (unfortunately I have lost the link to give credit to the original source) and wanted to share it with you. It is about Ann Good Glover a Irish Catholic Martyr from New England. When I think off early New England I don't often think of Catholic martyrs, but it happened. So much for fleeing religious persection. The early puritans must have had short term memories.

Ann "Goody" Glover

The last woman to be hanged in Boston as a witch was Ann Glover, an Irish washerwoman who was wildly accused in 1688 of practicing witchcraft by the infamous Reverend Cotter Mather. Her Puritan accusers were caught up in a witch mania that was part of the rigid Puritanism of the time, attaching supernatural causes to things they couldn't explain, especially medical conditions.

Goody was born in Ireland in the first half of the 17th century. She was an Irish slave sent to Barbados by Englishman Oliver Cromwell in the 1650s. Her husband died there, and by 1680 she and her daughter were living in Boston, employed as housekeepers by John Goodwin. But unlike most other Irish Catholic immigrants of the time, they refused to convert, in spite of the lack of priests or a church to attend. Holding to her religion would prove a fatal mistake for Ann.

In the summer of 1688, four of the five Goodwin children fell ill. The doctor concluded "nothing but a hellish Witchcraft could be the origin of these maladies." Martha, the 13-year-old daughter, confirmed the doctor's diagnosis by claiming she became ill right after she caught Glover stealing laundry. Glover was arrested and tried as a witch. In the courtroom there was confusion over Glover's testimony since she refused to speak English even though she knew the language. She was interrogated by the Reverend Cotton Mather of later Salem Witch Trial infamy. According to Mather "the court could have no answers from her, but in the Irish, which was her native language." It comes as no surprise that Mather claimed that Annie Glover confessed she was a witch. The court convicted Glover of witchcraft and sentenced her to be hanged. Though no other confessed-witch had ever been hanged at the time, Mather condemned Ann Glover to death. On November 16, 1688, Ann Glover was hanged in Boston for the misfortune of being a resolute Irish-speaking Catholic in Puritan New England. Author James B. Cullen wrote, "She was drawn in a cart, a hated and dreaded figure, chief in importance, stared at and mocked at, through the principal streets from her prison to the gallows. The people crowded to see the end, as always. When it was over, they quietly dispersed, leaving the worn-out body hanging as a 'lesson' to evil-doers." During the trial, he called Glover "a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholic and obstinate in idolatry."

A decade after Glover was hanged, Mather was still preaching against "idolatrous Roman Catholicks" trying to preserve a parochial society that was quickly changing. In Boston's South End, Our Lady of Victories Eucharistic Shrine has a plaque remembering Ann Glover as the first Catholic martyr of Massachusetts. The church is located at 27 Isabella Street. On November 16, 1988, the Boston City Council took note of the injustice done to Ann Glover 300 years earlier by proclaiming that day "Goody Glover Day" and condemning what had been done to her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing that info. Never heard of her before.

I wonder if a teacher friend from Mass. has ever mentioned her on his blog spot or will this be news to him as well?

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