On this day in 1706, Grace Sherwood stood trial for witchcraft in Princess Anne County. The justices decided to subject Sherwood to the water test to determine her guilt or innocence. If Sherwood sank, she would be presumed innocent. That’s because the water—a pure element—had accepted her. If she floated, therefore, she would be presumed guilty.
In the clip above, our friends at Monty Python explain the intricacies of the judicial system where witches are concerned. Or you can just read the transcript of Sherwood’s trial, which we have reproduced here.
By the way, Sherwood floated, but for reasons that remain unclear, she was not executed.