It’s well known (or at least widely reported) that one of the most popular methods of determining the guilt or innocence of a woman accused of witchcraft was to throw her in a lake. If the woman survived, it meant that the waters associated with baptism had rejected the tool of Satan, and the woman was immediately burned. If she drowned, she was declared to have been innocent. According to this Staff Report it happened “as late as the 1690s.”
Everything else I’ve heard about the witch trials of that era fit with what I know about hysteria and prejudice and normal human irrationality, except the part about declaring a woman who drowned to have been innocent. It seems like the enormity of drowning an innocent woman would have been shocking to anyone, even in the midst of such a political hysteria, and that cognitive dissonance would prevent anyone involved from accepting that this is what they had done.
Are there any records of women drowning during the trial by water and of the reaction of the authorities or the crowds? Were such women actually declared innocent, or were they recorded as witches justly executed? Was there any apparent awareness (as there surely would have been) of the absurdity of a trial that is fatal to the innocent?
Also, did it ever occur that a woman who accidentally fell into water from a boat or pier and survived was declared to have been a wich on that basis?