Record of Grace Sherwood's Trial
Original Author: Princess Anne County Records
Created: 1705/1706 record, collected in 1833 publication
Medium: Court record
Publisher: Richmond: Printed by T. W. White

Record of Grace Sherwood’s Trial

Official court records for Princess Anne County detail the case against Grace Sherwood, who was accused of withcraft by a neighbor and his wife. The court first considered the case on January 3, 1705/1706. (The date on the record above reflects the Julian, or Old Style, calendar, which dated the start of the new year at March 25.) Sherwood failed to appear at court on January 3, so the presiding justices commanded a sheriff to bring her in—in their words, "attach her body"—to answer the charges at the next court session. The court eventually ordered her to be bound and thrown into a body of water; Sherwood floated, which the court took as a sign of guilt. As an additional test, the justices ordered "as many antient & knowing women as possible … to serch her carefully for all teats, Spotts & marks about her body not usuall on others."  Sherwood was inspected by five old women who stated under oath that she had "two things like titts on her private parts of a Black coller." The court ordered the sherriff to "take … Grace into his costody & to comit her body to ye. common Joal of this County their to secure her by irons or otherwise" to await another trial. These court records were copied at the Princess Anne County clerk's office on September 15, 1832, and then published in the first volume of a book by Jonathan P. Cushing titled Collections of the Virginia Historical & Philosophical Society (1833).