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convicted at the Sessions for a scold, and adjudged to be ducked.” She brought a writ of error, and in another Report of the same transaction, in Trinity Term, 3 Anne (6 Mod. Rep. p. 178,) it is said that she was convicted by the Justices of the Peace, at the Quarter Sessions at Maidstone, upon an indictment for being a common scold, and judgment given, that she should be ducked. Whereupon she brought a writ of error (Id. p. 213,) and on a subsequent day, an application was made to dispense with her personal attendance in the Court of Queen's Bench, to assign error, as she was so ill, that without danger to her life, she could not come up out of Kent, where she lived. The Court say, “Scolding once or twice is no great matter, for scolding alone is not the offence, but the frequent repetition of it, to the disturbance of the neighbourhood, makes it a nuisance, and as such it always has been punishable in the Leet and ideo indictable,” and here they enlarged the time till next term, to see how she would behave herself in the mean time. And Lord Holt said, “ ducking would rather harden than cure her, and if she were once ducked, she would scold on all the days of her life." In Michaelmas Term, (1704,) her husband and she came into court that they might assign error, which they did, and on a subsequent day in this same Michaelmas Term (Id. 239,) the judgment of the Quarter Sessions at Maidstone, was reversed by the Court of Queen's Bench, “the indictment being for that she was Communis Rixa instead of Rizatrix."
The Record of Mrs. Saxby's second case still remains among the Records of the Court of Queen's Bench, of Michaelmas Term, 3 Anne, (1703.) It states an indictment found at the Kent Quarter Sessions, at Maidstone, “die Martis in prima septimanâ post festum scì. Michis. Arch', scil: quinto die Octobris, 2 Anne;" “against Hanna uxor: Joseph Saxby de Westerham in com. pred. Mercer," which charged her with being “ Communis Rixa.” It then states her plea of not guilty at the same Sessions, and that the Jury found her guilty, and the judgment against her is in the following form: “Ideo considerat' est p. Cur. hic qd. pd. Hanna p. transgr' offens' et malegestur' pd. apud poch de Westerham pd. in com. pd. die mercurii tcio die May px' futur' in quoddam Sedile ligneum (anglicè. a Cucking stool] supra aquas situat' ponatur et in eâdem sede in aquas sit semel immersa (anglicè. ducked] et exinde immediate desumpta et interea capiatur, &c.” The judgment against Hannah the wife of Joseph Saxby, of Westerham, Mercer, therefore is— “Therefore it is considered by the Court here, that the aforesaid Hannah, for the trespass, offence, and misbehaviour aforesaid, at the parish of Westerham aforesaid, in the county aforesaid, on Wednesday, the third day of May next ensuing, be put into a certain wooden seat, (anglicè a Cucking Stool,] situate above waters, and in the same seat, in the waters may be once immersed, [anglicè ducked,] and thereof immediately taken out, and in the mean time be taken, &c.” The record then states the proceedings on the writ of error, and concludes with the judgment for the defendant, in the usual form, “quod eat inde sine die" [i.e. that she should go thereof without day.]
From this record it appears that persons who were punished by the Cucking Stool had not always three immersions, as stated by Mr. Neild to be the practice, at the House of Correction, at Liverpool.
This is further confirmed by M. Misson, a distinguished French lawyer, who travelled in this country, and died in 1721, and who in his Memoirs and Observations in his Travels in England, (p.40) thus describes the Cucking Stool, and its application.a “Chaise. La manière de punir les femmes querelleuses est assez plaisante en Angleterre.”
“On attache une chaise à bras à l'extrémité de deux espèces de solives longues de douze ou quinze pieds, et dans un éloignement parallèle, en sorte que ces deux pièces de bois embrassent par leur
a M. Misson must have travelled in England in the reign of King William the third, as he appears to have been present at the coronation of King William the third, and Queen Mary, on the 11th of April, 1689. He also mentions Princess Anne of Denmark, by that title, (she having been afterwards Queen Anne,) and that he was present when King James the second received a letter on the 30th of October, 1688, announcing the dispersion of the Prince of Orange's fleet, when that monarch said to M. Barrillon, “at last then the wind has declared itself a papist.”
deux bouts voisins la chaise qui est entre eux, et qui y est attachée par le côte comme avec un essieu, de telle manière qu'elle a du jeu et qu'elle demeure toujours dans l'état naturel et horizontal auquel une chaise doit être, afin qu'on puisse s'asseoir dessus, soit qu'on l'élève, soit qu'on l'abaisse. On dresse un poteau sur le bord d'un etang ou d'une rivière, et sur ce poteau on pose presque en équilibre la double pièce de bois, à une des extrémités de laquelle la chaise se trouve au dessus de l'eau. On met la femme dans cette chaise, et on la plonge ainsi autant de fois qu'il a été ordonné pour rafraicher un peu sa chaleur immoderée".
Mr. Ozell, in his translation of this work printed in 1715, thus translates this passage :—"Cucking Stool—the way of punishing scolding women is pleasant enough. They fasten an arm chair to the end of two beams, twelve or fifteen foot long, and parallel to each other, so that these two pieces of wood with their two ends embrace the chair which hangs between them on a sort of axle, by which means it plays freely, and always remains in the natural horizontal position in which a chair should be that a person may sit conveniently in it, whether you raise it or let it down. They set up a post, upon the bank of a pond or river, and over this post they lay almost in equilibrio the two pieces of wood, at one end of which the chair hangs just over the water ; they place the woman in this chair, and so plunge her into the water, as often as the sentence directs, in order to cool her immoderate heat.”
It would seem that a punishment nearly or quite the same as that of the Cucking Stool was applied at Chester, as early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, to persons making bad beer, as in the Domesday Survey Div. Chester, (p. 262, of the printed copy of that work) is the following entry :
“T. R. E. Viv sive mulier falsam mensuram in civitate faciens deprehensus iiij solid. emendabat: similiter malam cervisiam faciens aut in cathedra ponebatur stercoris aut iijor solid. dabat prepositis," which may be thus translated—“In the time of King Edward, a man or woman taken making false measure in the city, was fined 48.; likewise, one making bad beer, was either put in the chair of muck, or gave 4s. to the stewards."
The parish of Liverpool also had its chair of correction for regulating the temperament of the ungentle portion of the gentle sex of that place. The date of its introduction there is not recorded, neither is it known when, by the improvement in female manners, it was no longer found to be necessary; but that it was in request, (and probably from its condition had been frequently so,) so late as the year 1695, may be inferred from an item in the parochial expenditure of that year, when “Edward Accres was paid for mending the Cuck Stool, fifteen shillings.” .
Neither does its use in Lancashire appear to have been confined to the ladies. In the Book of Customs of the Manor of Preston, in that county,a it is written that fraudulent tradespeople and insolvent burgesses, occasionally underwent the cooling operation. No 26, of the Customs (which are in Latin,) runs thus :—“ Also if a burgess shall be in mercy for bread and ale, the first, second, or third time, he shall be in mercy 12d; but the fourth time he shall go to the Cuck Stool.” (“Ibit at Cuckestolam.") Some fields in that parish are still called “ Cuck Stool Pit Fields :" and not more than forty-five years ago, a Cuck Stool complete, stood over a pit by the turnpike road on the way from Preston to Liverpool
In the county of York also there was punishment for scolds. The author of the History of Morley, in the West Riding, mentions that the villagers in old times, were very particular in this good usage: that for some reason or other, the Puritans had been very anxious to preserve it: that he had often observed these instruments near churches: and he is of opinion that if with the stocks for brawlers of the other sex, they were more in use, it would be no worse for society.b
In one of the books of the Exchequer for Cornwall we are told by Borlasec that the following curious entry may be found :
“Manor of Cotford Farlo, temp. Hen. III.,—Whereas, by reason of brawling women, many evils are introduced into the Manor, and quarrels, fighting, scandal, and other disturbances arise through
a See Baines's History of Lancashire, vol. iv. pp. 83 and 300. b Scatcherd's Morley, [1830.] p. 192. c Borlase's Cornwall, i. 303.