Grace <I>White</I> Sherwood

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Grace "White" Sherwood

Birth
Virginia, USA
Death
12 Oct 1740 (aged 79)
Pungo, Virginia Beach City, Virginia, USA
Burial
Virginia Beach, Virginia Beach City, Virginia, USA Add to Map
Memorial ID
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Grace Sherwood was married and lived with her three sons in Muddy Creek in the late 1600's.
In February of 1706 Luke Hill and his wife formally accused Grace of witchcraft after seeing her work the fields in her deceased Husbands britches. Her three sons were removed, from her care, and given to relatives to raise.
The County Court refused to pass judgement and the case was sent to Virginia's Attorney General who also refused to see a clearly defined case. When Graces house was inspected, it was found that she didn't own a glass witches ball. These balls were believed to ward off evil spirits, and witches.
This eventually led Princess Anne County authorities to order a trial by ducking, with Grace's consent; which consisted of having her hands and feet tied with rope, and being tossed in the water.
If Grace would float in consecrated water, and she did after being thrown in the Lynnhaven River, off what is now called Witchduck Point, then she was deemed guilty of witchcraft.
For this she spent seven years in jail.
After her release, she paid the back taxes on her property, and worked the land untill her death, at the age of 80. She was the only woman convicted of witchcraft in VA.

In July 2006, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine pardoned Grace Sherwood.
A statue was erected in her memory.

.Grace Sherwood, Wife of James Sherwood. The following is from virginiabeachhistory.org: "Early court records tell the tale of Grace Sherwood" There are no existing images of Grace. Her story is perhaps the most fascinating folklore in the history of Tidewater. Witchcraft was a very serious and real thing to the colonists. The cult was believed to be a threat to the Christian Church, and everyone during the early 1700's was on the lookout for witches, who could be recognized by so-called unusual or mysterious behaviors. Grace lived her entire life in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach (named for Indian chief Machiopungo), and married James Sherwood with whom she had three sons. She was said to be strikingly attractive, strong-willed, and a non-conformist by nature. These traits were resented by her neighbors, who began spreading rumors about her witch-like behavior. She was accused of blighting gardens, causing livestock to die, and influencing the weather. After eight years of constant slander and bickering by her neighbors, Grace was formally charged with suspicions of witchcraft. A jury of women was ordered to search her body for suspicious or unusual markings, thought to be brands of the devil himself, and naturally the jury found, "marks not like theirs or like those of any other woman." However, neither the local court nor the Attorney General in Williamsburg, would pass judgment declaring her a witch. Water was considered to be the purest element and the theory was that it would reject anything of an evil nature. Based on this theory, the accused was tied up and thrown into the water. If the person drowned, he was declared innocent of witchcraft; if he could stay afloat until he could free himself, he or she was declared a witch. On July 10, 1706, Grace was marched from the jail (which located near the present day site of Old Donation Church) down the dirt road (now Witch Duck Road) to the Lynnhaven River. This being a big event, hoards of people from all over the colony flocked to the scene as news of the Ducking had spread throughout the Commonwealth. Grace Sherwood was tied crossbound with the thumb of her right hand to the big toe of her left foot, and the thumb of her left hand to the big toe of her right foot, and thrown into the water. As predicted by her accusers, Grace managed to stay afloat until she could free herself and swim to shore. She was jailed and awaiting trial for witchcraft for nearly eight years, when the charges against her were dropped, and she was set free. She moved back to her Pungo home and lived there until her death at the age of 80. Many stories have been told and retold over the years about this most remarkable woman. One of the many tall tales that have been handed down from generation to generation has to do with the day of her ducking. When they led Grace Sherwood through the crowd that had turned out to see her put into the water she told them, "All right, all of you po' white trash, you've worn out your shoes traipsin' here to see me ducked, but before you'll get back home again you are goin' to get the duckin' of your lives." When they put Grace into the water the sky was as bright blue as a bird's wing, but immediately afterward it grew pitch black, the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed all across the heavens. The terrified people started for home, only to be washed off the roads and into the ditches by a powerful cloudburst."
Grace Sherwood was married and lived with her three sons in Muddy Creek in the late 1600's.
In February of 1706 Luke Hill and his wife formally accused Grace of witchcraft after seeing her work the fields in her deceased Husbands britches. Her three sons were removed, from her care, and given to relatives to raise.
The County Court refused to pass judgement and the case was sent to Virginia's Attorney General who also refused to see a clearly defined case. When Graces house was inspected, it was found that she didn't own a glass witches ball. These balls were believed to ward off evil spirits, and witches.
This eventually led Princess Anne County authorities to order a trial by ducking, with Grace's consent; which consisted of having her hands and feet tied with rope, and being tossed in the water.
If Grace would float in consecrated water, and she did after being thrown in the Lynnhaven River, off what is now called Witchduck Point, then she was deemed guilty of witchcraft.
For this she spent seven years in jail.
After her release, she paid the back taxes on her property, and worked the land untill her death, at the age of 80. She was the only woman convicted of witchcraft in VA.

In July 2006, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine pardoned Grace Sherwood.
A statue was erected in her memory.

.Grace Sherwood, Wife of James Sherwood. The following is from virginiabeachhistory.org: "Early court records tell the tale of Grace Sherwood" There are no existing images of Grace. Her story is perhaps the most fascinating folklore in the history of Tidewater. Witchcraft was a very serious and real thing to the colonists. The cult was believed to be a threat to the Christian Church, and everyone during the early 1700's was on the lookout for witches, who could be recognized by so-called unusual or mysterious behaviors. Grace lived her entire life in the Pungo area of Virginia Beach (named for Indian chief Machiopungo), and married James Sherwood with whom she had three sons. She was said to be strikingly attractive, strong-willed, and a non-conformist by nature. These traits were resented by her neighbors, who began spreading rumors about her witch-like behavior. She was accused of blighting gardens, causing livestock to die, and influencing the weather. After eight years of constant slander and bickering by her neighbors, Grace was formally charged with suspicions of witchcraft. A jury of women was ordered to search her body for suspicious or unusual markings, thought to be brands of the devil himself, and naturally the jury found, "marks not like theirs or like those of any other woman." However, neither the local court nor the Attorney General in Williamsburg, would pass judgment declaring her a witch. Water was considered to be the purest element and the theory was that it would reject anything of an evil nature. Based on this theory, the accused was tied up and thrown into the water. If the person drowned, he was declared innocent of witchcraft; if he could stay afloat until he could free himself, he or she was declared a witch. On July 10, 1706, Grace was marched from the jail (which located near the present day site of Old Donation Church) down the dirt road (now Witch Duck Road) to the Lynnhaven River. This being a big event, hoards of people from all over the colony flocked to the scene as news of the Ducking had spread throughout the Commonwealth. Grace Sherwood was tied crossbound with the thumb of her right hand to the big toe of her left foot, and the thumb of her left hand to the big toe of her right foot, and thrown into the water. As predicted by her accusers, Grace managed to stay afloat until she could free herself and swim to shore. She was jailed and awaiting trial for witchcraft for nearly eight years, when the charges against her were dropped, and she was set free. She moved back to her Pungo home and lived there until her death at the age of 80. Many stories have been told and retold over the years about this most remarkable woman. One of the many tall tales that have been handed down from generation to generation has to do with the day of her ducking. When they led Grace Sherwood through the crowd that had turned out to see her put into the water she told them, "All right, all of you po' white trash, you've worn out your shoes traipsin' here to see me ducked, but before you'll get back home again you are goin' to get the duckin' of your lives." When they put Grace into the water the sky was as bright blue as a bird's wing, but immediately afterward it grew pitch black, the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed all across the heavens. The terrified people started for home, only to be washed off the roads and into the ditches by a powerful cloudburst."

Gravesite Details

12/16/2018 William Huber member # 49810738 gives 1228 North Muddy Creek Road as her place of burial, but I cannot find proof of this. A satelite image of this address shows a brick home.


Family Members


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