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construction had been in use amongst the Spaniards in the West Indies for the punishment of refractory slaves. The “Witchs’ Branks, or Bridle,” preserved some years since in the steeple at Forfar, North Britain, is of this form, but in place of a flat plate, a sharply-pointed gag, furnished with three spikes, entering the mouth, gives to this example a fearfully savage aspect. The date, 1661, is punched upon the hoop. In the old statistical account of the parish of Forfar, it is described as the bridle with which victims condemned for witchcraft were led to execution." The facility, however, with which the single hoop might be slipped off the head, led to the addition of a curved band of iron passing over the forehead, with an aperture for the nose, and so formed as to clip the crown of the head, rendering escape from the bridle scarcely practicable. Of this variety the specimen preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford supplies an example. (See Woodcut).
* This relique of cruelty has been carried away from Forfar, and it was in the collection of the late Mr. Deuchar of Edinburgh. See Dr. Wilson’s ‘Prehistoric Annals,” p. 693, and Sir J. Dalyell's ‘Darker Superstitions of Scotland, p. 636. It is not stated in the catalogue of that collection, by whom it was presented, or where it was previously used; it is described as “a Gag, or Brank, formerly used with the ducking-stool, as a punishment for scolds.” In this instance, it will be observed that the chain by which the offender was led is attached in front, immediately over the nose, instead of the back of the head, the more usual adjustment of the leading chain. For greater security, the transverse band was in other examples prolonged, and attached to the collar by a hinge or staple, as shown by the brank figured in Plot's Staffordshire, and those existing at Macclesfield, Newcastle under Lyme, and Walton on Thames. A very grotesque variety was exhibited by the late Colonel Jarvis, of Doddington Park, Lincolnshire, in the Museum formed during the meeting of the Institute at Lincoln. It has an iron mask entirely covering the face, with apertures for the eyes and nostrils, the plate being hammered out to fit the nose, and a long conical peak affixed before the mouth, bearing some resemblance to the peculiar longsnouted visor of the bascinets occasionally worn in the time of Richard II. (See Woodcut). No account of the previous history of this singular object could be obtained. A brank, actually in the possession of Dr. Kendrick, of Warrington, is figured in the Proceedings of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, session ii. p. 25, plate 5. A cross is affixed to the band which passed over the head, and a curved piece on either side clipped the crown of the head, and kept the brank more firmly in position. In other
examples we find in place of these recurved appendages, two bands of iron plate, crossing each other at right angles on the crown of the head, their extremities being riveted to the horizontal hoop or collar. In that preserved at the Guildhall, Lichfield, and exhibited by kind permission of the mayor at one of the meetings of the Institute, a more complete frame-work or skeleton head piece is formed by five pieces | of iron hoop, which meet on the | crown of the head, where they \ are conjoined by a single rivet.” (See Woodcut). Lastly, a more
* Catalogue of the Ashmolean Museum, Miscellaneous Curiosities, No. 517, p. 148.
complicated arrangement is shown N o o in the brank preserved at Ham- - [Fo stall Ridware, Staffordshire, in Brank belonging to the Town Council, Lichfield. the ancient manor-house in the possession of Lord Leigh, described in Shaw's History of that county. It bears resemblance to a lantern of conical form, presenting in front a grotesque mask pierced for eyes, nose, and mouth, and opening with a door behind. The construction of this singular engine of punishment is sufficiently shown by the accompanying Woodcuts, prepared from drawings, for which we are indebted to Mr. Jewitt. There was a brank at Beaudesert, Staffordshire, as also at Walsall, and at Holme, Lancashire. There was one in the town-hall at Leicester, now in private hands in that town. That which is recorded in 1623 as existing at Macclesfield, and is still seen in the town-hall,” had been actually used, as I was assured by a friendly correspondent, within the memory of an aged official of the municipal authorities in that town. The hideous “brydle for a curste queane'' remains suspended, with an iron straight-waistcoat, hand-cuffs and bilboes, and other obsolete appliances of discipline. To the same curious observer of olden usages I owe the fact, that within comparatively recent memory the brank was used for punishing disorderly females at Manchester. Mr. Greene, in a communication to the Society of Antiquaries in 1849, accompanying the exhibition of the branks from Lichfield and Hamstall Ridware, Staffordshire, advanced the supposition that the punishment of the scold’s-bridle had been peculiar to that county; its use was, however, even more frequent in the Palatinate, as also in the northern counties and in Scotland. Pennant, in his Northern Tour in 1772, records its use at Langholm, in Dumfriesshire, where the local magistrates had it always in readiness; it had been actually used a month previous to his visit, till the blood gushed from the mouth of the victim.” Several other examples of the brank have been noticed in North Britain; it is indeed mentioned, with the jougs, by Dr. Wilson, in his “Prehistoric Annals of Scotland,” as a Scottish instrument of ecclesiastical punishment, for the coercion of scolds and slanderous gossips. The use of such bridles for unruly tongues occurs in the Burgh Records of Glasgow, as early as 1574, when two quarrelsome females were bound to keep the peace, or on further offending —“to be brankit.” In the records of the Kirk Session, Stirling, for 1600, “the brankes” are mentioned as the punishment for a shrew. In St. Mary’s Church, at St. Andrews, a memorable specimen still exists, displayed for the edification of all zealous Presbyterians, on a table in the elders' pew. It is known as the “Bishop's Branks,” but whether so styled from the alleged use of such torment by Cardinal Beaton, in the sufferings of Patrick Hamilton and other Scottish martyrs who perished at the stake in the times of James W., or rather, in much later times, by Archbishop Sharp, to silence the scandal which an unruly dame promulgated against him before the congregation, popular tradition seems to be unable to determine”. A representation of the “Bishop's Branks” is given in the Abbotsford edition of “The Monastery,” where it is noticed. It precisely resembles the specimen found in 1848 behind the oak panelling, in the ancient mansion of the Earls of Moray, in the Canongate, Edinburgh. Of this, through the kindness of Mr. Constable, I am enabled to offer Brank found in Moray House, Edinburgh. the accompanying representation. In the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland another specimen may be seen, thus described by Dr. Wilson in the Synopsis of that collection.—-“The branks, an ancient Scottish instrument.
* It is believed that this is the same which Shaw mentions as formerly in Greene's Museum at Lichfield.
* This is the Brank mentioned by Ormerod, alluded to above, p. 33. The
ducking-pool also, with the tumbrel post, remained at Macclesfield in the last eentury. Hist, of Cheshire, vol. iii., p. 385.
* Proceedings of Soc. Ant., vol. ii., p. 8. *Tour in Scotland, vol. ii., p. 91. *The incident is related in the Life of Archbishop Sharp. See also Howie's
Judgment on Persecutors, p. 30, Biographia Scoticana, as cited by Jamieson. v. Branks.
Its most frequent and effectual application was as a corrector of incorrigible scolds.-Presented by J. M. Brown, Esq., F.S.A. Scot. 1848.” The term brank is found in old Scottish writers in a more general sense, denoting a kind of bridle. Jamieson gives the verb, to Brank, to bridle, to restrain; and he states that Branks, explained by Lord Hales as signifying the collars of work-horses, “properly denotes a sort of bridle, often used by the country people in riding. Instead of leather, it has on each side a piece of wood joined to a halter, to which a bit is sometimes added; but more frequently a kind of wooden noose resembling a muzzle. Anciently, this seems to have been the common word for a bridle * (in the North of Scotland)." In regard to the etymology of the word, Jamieson observes, “Gael, brancas is mentioned by Shaw, as signifying a halter; brans is also said to denote a kind of bridle. But our word seems originally the same with Teut. pranghe, which is defined so as to exhibit an exact description of our branks; b. and p. being often interchanged, and in Germ. used differently in many instances.
* Compare Brockett's explanation of the word branks used on the Borders. North Country Words.