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former whereof, they have such a peculiar artifice at New-Castle [under Lyme] and Walsall, for correcting of scolds, which it does too so effectually, and so very safely, that I look upon it as much to be preferred to the Cucking-stoole, which not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue liberty 'twixt every dipp; to neither of which is this at all lyable; it being such a bridle for the tongue, as not only quite deprives them of speech, but brings shame for the transgression, and humility thereupon, before 'tis taken off. Which being an instrument scarce heard of, much less seen, I have here presented it to the reader's view, tab. 32, fig. 9, as it was taken from the original one, made of iron, at NewCastle under Lyme, wherein the letter a shows the joynted collar that comes round the neck; b, c, the loops and staples to let it out and in, according to the bigness and slenderness of the neck; d, the joynted semicircle that comes over the head, made forked ...! one end to let through the nose; and e, the plate of iron that is put into the mouth, and keeps down the tongue. Which, being put upon the offender by order of the magistrate, and fastened with a padlock behind, she is lead through the towne by an officer to her shame, nor is it taken off, till after the party begins to show all external signes imaginable of humiliation and amendment.” Dr. Plot was keeper of the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and professor of chemistry in that University; this work was printed at Oxford in 1686, and dedicated to King James II. Mr Noake, in his “Worcester in the Olden Time,” gives the following entry from the Corporation books of that city.

“1658. Paid for mending the bridle for bridleinge of scoulds, and two cords for the same. js. ijd.”

Dr. Ormerod, in his History of Cheshire,” after mentioning that a Cucking stool was in existence at Macclesfield in the last century, adds, “and there is also yet preserved an iron Brank or Bridle for scolds, which has been used within the memory of the author's informant, Mr. Browne—and which is mentioned as “a brydle for a curste quean,” among the articles delivered by the serjeant to Sir Urian Leigh, Knt., on his being elected mayor, Oct. 3, 21 Jac. 1. An iron bridle was used at Bolton-le-moors, Lancashire, a few years ago, as a punishment for prostitutes. The Bridle was fixed in their mouths, and tied at the back of the head with ribbons, and so attired, they were paraded from the cross to the church steps and back again by the beadles.”

1 P. 110.
* Vol. iii. p. 385 m. Published in 1819.


In some instances the Branks appear to have degenerated into instruments of torture. By the kindness of Mr. W. J. Bernhard Smith, I have been favored with a drawing of a horrible engine, preserved in the museum at Ludlow.

Of this Mr. Bernhard Smith gives the following acceount:

“I think you will find these iron head pieces to belong to a class of engines of far more formidable character than the branks. Their powerful screwing apparatus seems calculated to force the iron mask with torturing effect on the brow of the victim. There are no eye holes, but concavities in their places, as though to allow for the starting of the eye balls under violent pressure. There is a strong bar with a square hole evidently intended to fasten the criminal against a wall, or perhaps to the pillory, for I have heard it said that these instruments were used to keep the head steady during the infliction of branding.”

“Another cruel engine in the Ludlow Museum appears to have been intended to dislocate the arm, and to cramp or crush the fingers at the same time. It is so much mutilated as to render its mode of application very difficult to make out.”

Mr. Noake in his “Worcester in the Olden Time,” gives a description and a woodcut of a Torture Helmet now in the TownHall in that city, which very much resembles the Torture Helmet in the Ludlow Museum.

In addition to their extensive use in England, they were of frequent occurrence in Scotland; and I was told by our eminent antiquarian friend the late Mr. J. M. Kemble, that he had seen

branks at various Town-Halls in Germany.


In the year 1856, a paper appeared in the Archæological Journal from the pen of one of our best and most accurate antiquaries Mr. Albert Way, on the subject of branks. The valuable and interesting information contained in it is to be found no where else, and I have his kind permission to avail myself of it for the benefit of our Society; and the Committee of the Archaeological Institute have also favored me with the loan of their wood blocks to illustrate my paper. Mr. Noake adds—“A curious instrument of punishment, probably used for a similar purpose, may still be seen hung up with some armour in the Worcester Guildhall. The following is from a sketch taken by me a few months ago. The head was inserted in this helmet, and the visor, which is here represented as hanging down, being connected with the toothed uprights, was drawn up and down by means of a key winding up the end of the rod which passes immediately across the top of the helmet, and which rod is furnished with cogs at the end, to fit into the teeth of the uprights. The visor was thus drawn up so as to completely darken the eyes and cover the nose. The little square box with a hole, to which a screw is affixed at the side, was probably intended to receive the end of a pole fixed in a wall, from which the patient was thus made to stand out, though certainly not “in relief.” “These instruments [branks], as well as cucking-stools, were in use in nearly all towns. The present specimen is probably temp. Henry VII.” In the museum at Ludlow, according toinformation for which I am indebted to Mr. W. J. Bernhard Smith, another example is preserved of an iron cap, probably for branding offenders, much resembling that at Worcester, but perhaps more complicated. It is furnished with a similar rack and side wheels for compression. Mr. Albert Way in his “Additional Notices of the brank, or scold's-bridle,” says, “the origin of this grotesque implement of punishment, as also the period of its earliest use in Great Britain, remain in considerable obscurity. No example of the Scold's-Bridle has been noticed of greater antiquity than that preserved in the church of Walton-on-Thames, Snrrey, which bears the date 1633, with the distich,


CHESTER presents WALTON with a Bridle,
To curb Women's Tongues that talk to Idle.

Tradition alleges that it was given for the use of that parish by a neighbouring gentleman who lost an estate, through the indiscreet babbling of a mischievous woman to the kinsman from whom he had considerable expectations." Some have conjectured, from the occurrence of several examples of the Branks in the Palatinate, one more especially being still kept in the Jail at Chester, that this implement of discipline “for a curste queane,” had been actually presented by the city of Chester; it may however seem probable that the name of an individual is implied, and not that of a city so remote from Walton. Another dated example is in the possession of Sir John Walsham, Bart., of Bury St. Edmunds; it was found in Old Chesterfield Poor-house, Derbyshire, where it is supposed to have been used, and it was given to Lady Walsham by Mr. Weale, Assistant Poor Law Commissioner. This Brank has an iron chain attached to it with a ring at the end; it bears the date and the initials—1688, T. C. It was produced at a meeting of the West Suffolk Archaeological Institute, according to information for which I am indebted to the secretary of that Society, Mr. Tymms, the historian of Bury.

It is probable that at a more remote period the inconvenience attending the use of so cumbrous an apparatus as the cucking-stool —the proper and legal engine of punishment for female offenders, whether for indecent brawling or for brewing bad beer, may have led to the substitution of some more convenient and not less disgraceful penalty. In some parishes in the West country, cages

* Brayley’s Hist. of Surrey, vol. ii. p. 331, where a representation of the ‘Gossip's Bridle” is given.

were provided for scolds; and the ancient Custumal of Sandwich ordained that any woman guilty of brawling should carry a large mortar round the town with a piper or minstrel preceding her, and pay the piper a penny for his pains. This practice was established prior to the year 1518, and a representation of the mortar may be seen in Boys' History of Sandwich." The suggestion of Mr. Fairholt, in his notice of a grotesque iron mask of punishment obtained in the Castle of Nuremberg, that the Branks originated in certain barbarous implements of torture of that description, seems well deserving of consideration. The example which he has described and figured in the Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. vii. p. 61, is now in Lord Londesborough's collection at Grimston Park; it is a frame of iron made to fit the head like the scolds'-bridle; it was attached by a collar under the chin, and has a pair of grotesque spectacles and ass’s ears. There are other examples in various collections; one of wood, in the Goodrich Court Armory, was assigned by the late Sir S. Meyrick to the times of Henry VIII. The fashion and construction of the brank varies considerably, and a few specimens may deserve particular notice. The most simple form consisted of a The Witch's Bridle, Forfar. single hoop which passed round the head, opening by means of hinges at the sides, and closed by a staple with a padlock at the back: a plate within the hoop projecting inwards pressed upon the tongue, and formed an effectual gag. I am indebted to the late Colonel Jarvis, of Doddington, Lincolnshire, for a sketch of this simple kind of bridle, and he informed me that an object of similar

'I was informed by Mr. Alchin the Librarian to the city of London, that in the Journals of that Corporation of the reign of Henry VIII. [Jour. 8 H. 8, 9]. there is an entry that eight scolds were brought under the Pillory in Cheapside preceded by Minstrels. Has the saying as to “paying the piper” any reference to any matter of this kind?” F. A. C.

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