The Case of Mary Smith
The Florida Supreme Court’s law library has very old and rare law books that predate the library and Court, stretching back to the time of King James I of England and before. Some of them are frankly a little spooky.
One such book in the Court's collection is a volume describing an actual trial in the year 1616 of a woman named Mary Smith. Her crime? -- Witchcraft.
She and her neighbors both competed in the business of selling cheese, it seems. Over time their relationship soured. But this was more than just a neighbor's quarrel, the book says.
Mary Smith made a compact with the devil, according to this old law book. She then cursed her neighbors and later used a large cat and a birch broom in sorcery that was meant to leave them sick.
For her crimes, Mary Smith was executed the same day her trial ended in 1616 after confessing that she was a witch, so this book says.
This is one of many unusual cases reported in the hundreds of rare law books owned by the Court that stretch back for centuries.
The book reporting Mary Smith's trial is not even the oldest book in the Court's collection. That distinction belongs to a Spanish law book that dates from 1597.
Supreme Court Library
500 South Duval Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399
In addition to more than 130,000 volumes, the Supreme Court Library houses many historical documents related to the development of the Florida Supreme Court.
On August 13, 1974, the Florida Supreme Court Library became a designated federal depository library.
“This library is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. Government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law. (Title 44 United States Code)”
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