Sunday, July 23, 2006

Witch Hunts: Public Hysteria Leads To Murder

In an unusual “informal pardon” last week, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine restored the good name of Commonwealth resident Grace Sherwood — known 300 years ago as the Witch of Pungo.

Sherwood was Virginia’s only convicted witch tried by water — meaning she floated after being tied cross-bound, thumbs to toes, and dropped into the Lynnhaven River. Although floating may have saved Sherwood’s life, it was, at the time, considered proof of her nefarious crime — the belief being pure water cast out her evil spirit.

By today’s standards, Sherwood’s lifestyle would not be out of the mainstream. But in the early 1700s, she lived a hard life. Full Story

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