Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Public Stocks #virginiapioneersnet #genealogy #history

The Public Stocks

stocks and pilloryEveryday life in Colonial times had a unique method of dealing with criminals. The laws were rigid and punishments severe. Interestingly, criminals were occasionally branded with a hot iron; however, if a man went hunting on Sunday, he was often publicly whipped. Small offenses were also punished under the designation of "scolds" (scolded). A woman who had been complained of as a scold was placed in front of her house with a stick tied in her mouth. Sometimes a common scold was fastened to what was known as a "ducking stool" at one end of a seesaw plank, and ducked in a pond or river! Some crimes were punished by making the offender stand up on a stool in some public place, while fastened to his breast was a large placard on which his crime was printed in coarse letters, as LIAR or THIEF. In some colonies the use of public whipping posts were applied against hardened offenders. The culprit was seated on a bench in a public place, his feet projecting through holes in a plank (or the pillory) where he had to stand up with his neck and wrists painfully confined in a similar way. These last two modes of punishment were a source of no small amusement to the throng which gathered around and jeered. This type of public shame sufficiently served to deter crime.  Accomack County VA Genealogy & Histories
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