Archive for Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Governor clears ‘witch’ three centuries later

July 11, 2006

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— It took 300 years, but Grace Sherwood was officially exonerated Monday for her conviction of being a witch.

Sherwood, known as the "Witch of Pungo," was Virginia's only woman to be convicted as a witch in a trial by water.

"I am pleased to officially restore the good name of Grace Sherwood," Gov. Timothy M. Kaine wrote in a letter Virginia Beach Mayor Meyera Oberndorf read aloud Monday at a re-enactment of Sherwood's water trial.

On July 10, 1706, Sherwood was dropped into the Lynnhaven River and floated. According to the belief system of the time, her floating proved she was guilty because the pure water cast out her evil spirit. The theory behind the ducking test had a serious flaw: if she sank, she was innocent, but she also would have drowned.

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