Trial By Water

  • 19 Feb 2023
  • Crime and Legal
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Perhaps the most remarkable local survival of 'legal custom' was at Red Marley D'Abitot, a Worcestershire village before its transfer to Gloucestershire. William Lygon, the first Earl Beauchamp, was riding through his constituency in the 1820s, when he came upon a throng of excited rustics, and learnt that they were putting an alleged witch through the 'ordeal by water'. His horrified protest was resented and they were at great pains to assure him that everything was in proper order and according to traditional rules. Only by his prompt and unflinching assertion of authority as a County Justice was he able to save the wretched victim who, a few minutes later, would have demonstrated her innocence by drowning.

Trial by Water