People believed that witches were around in the 17th century due to there being many rumours going around that old women who had black cats and had a cauldron were witches. For testing these rumours there were two methods that they used, swimming a witch and burning them alive. Swimming a witch was when they tied up the person that they thought was a witch and placed them on the water. If they floated they were a witch because the water didn't want witches in the water and later on they would be burnt alive. If they drowned they were innocent but they died anyway because nobody fetched them out the water. So basically if they were accused of being a witch they would die.