"Queen" Ann Whiton


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Ann Whiton was born on June 16, 1711 to John and Mary (Tower) Whiton. She was one of seven children and as a child helped her father by working in his tavern in South Hingham.  The establishment provided overnight accomodations and meals for travelers as well as stables for their horses.  As an adult Ann did not marry and continued to work at the tavern, becoming its owner in 1730. 

Ann lived with a man named John Corthell (known as "Long John"), although the two were not married, and had three daughters out of wedlock.  Ann's behavior was considered truly scandalous, as she lived at a time when marriage was considered the only legitimate path to parenthood and living with a member of the opposite sex who was not a family member was not acceptable. 

Despite her infamy, Ann's tavern was quite popular.  During the American Revolution young soldiers would come to relax, imbibe alcohol, and have a good time. 

According to one story, in 1777 she held a grand ball at which two young people, Abel Moulton and Content Dunbar, fell in love. Moulton fought in the American Revolution and when he returned, he immediately sought out Ann to find out where Dunbar was currently living.  She gave him directions, and two weeks later the couple was married with Ann as their caterer.

Queen Ann’s Corner in South Hingham is named after Ann Whiton, who was given the nickname “queen” after the old English word “quean,” meaning whore.  This was meant to insult her not only for living such a scandalous life, but also for her lack of cleanliness.  Ann was apparently treated rather poorly by some of the townspeople.  Peter Jacob wrote the following rhyme and placed it on her door:

Directions here for Plymouth way.
Here's oats for horses, also hay.
Here lives Long John and Ann the queen
As great a slut as e'er was seen.

Yet, Ann is an important person in Hingham’s history, as her nickname is associated with the part of town where she worked and lived. Ann Whiton died in 1799 at the age of eighty-eight.