Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/137

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


The Colonial Virginian. 131

table class of men than the early Virginia parsons it would be diffi- cult to imagine."

17 The indulgences of the Virginian of the eighteenth century were not peculiar to him alone. They largely prevailed in New England. They were the natural reflex of the laxity of English morals under the Georges.

However liable the Virginian may have been to the charge of intolerance, superstition seems not to have benighted his nature. His courts record but one instance of an arraignment for witchcraft. Upon the complaint of one Luke Hill and wife in 1705 Grace Sher- wood was tried by the County Court of Princess Anne "on the sus- picion of witchcraft." She was first searched by an able jury of "ancient women" and then subjected to the water test being cast into the river and "she swiming w'n therein and bound, contrary to custom," was again committed to ye common goal of ye county to be brought to a ffuture tryall there." 18

The court, however, "not knowing how to proceed to judgm't," referred the case to the Supreme Court, the Council, for decision. The Council in like perplexity referred it to the Attorney-General, Stevens Thomson. He gave it as his "opinion that the County C't should have made a fuller examination." 19

The persecution of the alleged witch it may be concluded ended with this opinion, as there is no further record of the case. She survived, it appears, until 1741, her will, in which she bequeaths her estate to three sons, being of record in that year in Princess Anne county. 20 It is significant that the forewoman of the able jury was Eliza Barnes, from Anne Arundel county, Md., which was the harbor of the Puritans.

The constitution of the population of Virginia in the seventeenth century the race elements that entered into its composition may be noted. It is conclusively demonstrated in preserved record, printed and MS., the latter -embracing the registry of lands patents from 1620 and the records of the several county courts, that the settlers were preponderantly English. There was a considerable number of the Welsh and a sprinkling of French, Italians, Irish,

17 Me Cade, page 9.

18 Collections of the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society, Volume 1, 1833. pages 69-78.

19 Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Volume I, page TOO.

20 Letter from A. E. Kellam, clerk of Princess Anne county, August 30, 1891.