Katherine Grady (d. 1654)
Katherine Grady was on her way to the new world when disaster hit in 1654. She was on a ship bound for a Virginia port when a storm came. It was fierce and didn’t seem to have an end, the ship was caught in the middle.
Once the group of passengers had ran out of natural explanations for the storm, they assumed it was something more. Poor Ms. Grady was the “culprit” for the natural terror at sea.
The group became a furious mob and Grady was soon hung in an attempt to end what they believed was a diabolical storm. It is unclear as to why the captain allowed it, or exactly how mad the group was at the time. He was either in league with them or he didn’t want to become the next target. Regardless, he was charged with the murder when the ship docked in the state. No further record exists of who he was or what became of him, or if anyone else in the mob was charged.
Ms. Grady is currently the only person “executed in Virginia” for witchcraft, although obviously, she never made it to the shore. There is a element to many variations of this tale that Grady was the first to cry “witch” and the person who worked the crowd into a frenzy. Any truth to that is currently lost to time.
The ship’s captain faced legal charges upon landing, but what happened is also lost.