Ann Putnam Jr. was the eldest child of Thomas and Ann Putnam. She was born in 1680. Ann was intelligent, well educated, and had a quick wit. At the time of the outbreak of witchcraft accusations, Ann was 12 years old. She was a close friend of several of the other afflicted girls. Mercy Lewis, 17, was a servant in the Putnam house, and Mary Walcott, 17, who was also afflicted, was perhaps Ann's best friend. Ann, Mary, and Mercy were among the first villagers outside of the Parris household to be afflicted.
Ann and six other young girls had listened as Tituba, Parris's Indian servant woman, told tales of voodoo and other supernatural events in her native Barbados. The girls also engaged in fortune telling--concerning, for example, matters such as what trade their sweethearts might have. During one fortune telling episode, Ann reported seeing a specter in the likeness of a coffin. After this incident, Ann, Betty Parris, and Abigail Williams (the niece and home resident of Parris) began to display strange symptoms. They complained of pain, would speak in gibberish, became contorted into strange positions, and would crawl under chairs and tables.
After Betty Parris was sent away, Ann and Abigail became the most active--as well as the youngest--of the accusers. Ann claimed to have been afflicted by sixty-two people. She testified against several in court and offered many affidavits. Her father, Thomas Putnam, was the chief filer of complaints in the village, and maintained complete control over the actions of the two afflicted girls living in his house. Most of the afflicted and the accusers were in some way related to the Putnam family. Ann Putnam Sr., Ann's mother, would also become afflicted at times, and was in court almost as much as her daughter and servant. The mother and daughter Ann were a particularly formidable pair of actors. People from miles around trooped into the courtroom to watch their performances.
In 1706, Ann offered a public apology for her participation in the witch trials at Salem. She stood in church while her apology was read: "I desire to be humbled before God. It was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time. I did not do it out of anger, malice, or ill-will." Ann was the only one of the afflicted girls to make such an apology. There is some speculation that Ann was as much a victim as those she accused. She may have been manipulated by her parents and elders to achieve their ends.
In 1699, both of Ann's parents died within two weeks of each other. Ann, 19, was left to raise her nine orphaned brothers and sisters, ranging in age from 7 months to 18 years. Ann never married. She devoted her life to raising her siblings. She died in 1716 at the age of 37.
SALEM TRIALS HOMEPAGE