Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Witch of Pungo Exonerated

Grace Sherwood, The Witch Of Pungo

I read about the Witch of Pungo for the first time when I was in the 5th grade. Eventually, my life took me to Virginia Beach, where I lived not far from the area known as Pungo. When I became a HypnoBirthing practitioner, something in my brain ressurected her story for me as a midwife/healer who faced the witch hunt mentality and lost.

Grace is in the news again; this week she was officially exonerated by the state of Virginia and a statute will be commerate her memory. 300 years to get the record straight.

The Witchcraft case of Grace Sherwood is one of the best known in Virginia. She was accused of bewitching a neighbor's crop in 1698. Allegations grew over time until the Princess Anne County Government and her accusers decided she would be tested by ducking, since water was considered pure and would not permit a witch to sink into its depths.

Sherwood's accusers on July 10th, 1706, at ten of the clock, tied her thumbs to big toes, cross-bound, and dropped her into the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River near what is now known as Witchduck Point. Sherwood floated, a sign of guilt. She was imprisoned, but was eventually released.

Sherwood lived the rest of her life quietly and died in 1740. Was she really a witch or was Grace a woman before her time? She was a healer, a midwife and a friend to the children and animals. On the 300th Anniversary of her conviction, Grace Sherwood's name will finally be cleared and her statue will be unveiled.

On July 10, 2006, Grace Sherwood, Virginia's only convicted witch, will be exonerated by the Vestry of Old Donation Church on the original site of the Second Princess Anne Courthouse, where her trial took place in 1706. The Vestry of the Lynnhaven Parish, present day Old Donation Church, condemned her so many years ago, and will now reverse their three centuries old decision and clear her name.

Thanks to Carol's House for the drawing.


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