History of Punishment & Torture

The Ducking Stool,
page 7 of 9

This was a law well-executed at the time in Scotland, though Dunton was ignorant of it.

There are no entries to show that the law authorizing ducking ever was executed in Massachusetts nor in Maine, where a dozen towns — Kittery, York and others — were fined for “having no coucking-stool.” It was ordered on Long Island that every Court of Sessions should have a ducking-stool; but nothing exists in their records to prove that the order was ever executed, or any Long Island woman ducked; nor is there proof that there was in New York city a ducking-stool, though orders were issued for one; a Lutheran minister of that city excused himself for striking a woman who angered him by her “scholding” because she was not punished by law therefor.

Pennsylvania, mild with the thees and thous of non-belligerent Quakers, did not escape scolding women. In 1708 the Common Council of Philadelphia ordered a ducking-stool to be built. In 1718 it was still lacking, and still desired, and still necessary.

“Whereas it has been frequently and often presented by several former Grand Jurys for this City the Necessity of a Ducking-stool and house of Correction for the just punishment of scolding Drunken Women, as well as divers other profligate and Unruly persons in this Town who are become a Publick Nuisance and disturbance to the Town in Generall, Therefore we the present Grand Jury Do Earnestly again present the same to the Court of Quarter Sessions for the City Desireing their Immediate Care That these Public Conveniances may not be any Longer Delay’d but with all possible Speed provided for the Detention and Quieting such Disorderly Persons.”

For several years later the magistrates clamored for a ducking-stool, and the following indictment was brought against an unruly woman:


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