Friday, November 4, 2022

The Witch Of Pengo?.. Poongo?...Pungo.

 By: Christopher Brown 

Mother of 3 kids, herbalist, farmer, and contains warts on her or his body… Witch? These characteristics describe Grace Sherwood. Grace Sherwood was a middle-class woman who lived in Princess Anne, Virginia from 1660-1740. Grace was not only one of the selected few of people who were convicted for being a witch, but also the last person to be convicted of being a witch in Virginia. 

Grace Sherwood had been accused of being a witch on multiple occasions. Some of these occasions being she caused crops and livestock to die, put curses on families, and even a woman by the name of Elizabeth Barnes said Grace slipped through her door key hole to get into her bed chamber and ride her like a horse. A little excessive with the details do you think?

After being taken to trial on multiple occasions and having her case looked at by each level of government back then, she was eventually asked to be tested by water. This is called dunking

The test of water is when such a person is accused of being a witch, they are ordered to be tied to a cucking stool  and be dropped into deep water. If such a person can escape and rise to the top they aren’t a witch, but if they sink and drown then they are innocent. That “totally” sounds like a win-win situation. Grace didn’t want to deny such a trial because it would just make her look guilty so she went with it. 

Grace then proceeded to save herself and not drown and was placed in jail in Williamsburg, VA. It’s stated that on the night of Grace Sherwood dunking there was a storm with terrible lighting strikes. She was released in 1714. In 1733 she made a will bequeathing her property to her three sons. Beginning in the 20th century according to Emilee Hines in the Book, “Virginia Myths And Legend: The True Stories Behind History’s Mysteries”, held an annual Pungo Strawberry Festival in the still rural part of the city that included a reenactment of Grace Sherwood’s dunking(Hines). Also in the 20th century the mayor of Virginia pardoned Grace Sherwood from her being accused of being a Witch. She is known to be immortalized in Princess Anne, as she has a statue where people can pay due respect to her. 

Works Cited: 

 “Grace Sherwood.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, August 7th, 2022,

Schons, Mary. “Witch Trials in The 21st Century.” Accusations of Witchcraft persist, Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Kara West. National Geographic Society. September 15th, 2022. 1145 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20036.     

Walk With History. “The Last Modern Day Witch Trial.” The Witch of Pungo. Youtube. October 17th, 2021. San Bruno, CA.

Links for Further Research: 

Washington Post.

This site contains information on Grace Sherwood being pardoned. 

National Geographic. This link provides information on the witch trials in the 21st century.

National Geographic. explains why witches were killed from back then to know. 

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