The History of Torture and Execution

Punishments of Authors and Books,
page 4 of 8

A Maine man named Thomas Taylour for his undue familiarity shown in his “theeing and thouing” Captain Raynes was set in the stocks.

Slander and name-calling were punished by whipping. On April 1, 1634, John Lee “for calling Mr. Ludlowe false-heart knave, hard-heart knave, heavy friend shalbe whipt and fyned XIs.” Six months later he was again in hot water:

“John Lee shalbe whipt and fyned for speaking reproachfully of the Governor, saying hee was but a lawyer’s clerk, and what understanding hadd hee more than himselfe, also takeing the Court for makeing lawes to picke men’s purses, also for abusing a mayd of the Governor, pretending love in the way of marriage when himselfe professed hee intended none.”

In the latter clause of this count against John Lee doubtless lay the sting of his offenses. For Governor Winthrop was very solicitous of the ethics of love-making, and to deceive the affections of one of his fen-county English serving-lasses was to him without doubt a grave misdemeanor.

Those harmless and irresponsible creatures, young lovers, were menaced with the whip. Read this extract from the Plymouth Laws, dated 1638:

“Whereas divers persons unfit for marriage both in regard of their yeong yeares, as also in regarde of their weake estate, some practiseing the inveagling of men’s daughters and maids under gardians contrary to their parents and gardians likeing, and of maide servants, without the leave and likeing of their masters: It is therefore enacted by the Court that if any shall make a motion of marriage to any man’s daughter or mayde servant, not having first obtayned leave and consent of the parents or master soe to doe, shall be punished either by fine or corporall punishment, or both, at the discretions of the bench, and according to the nature of the offense.”

The New Haven Colony, equally severe on unlicensed lovemaking, specified the “inveagling,” whether done by “speech, writing, message, company-keeping, unnecessary familiarity, disorderly night meetings, sinfull dalliance, gifts or, (as a final blow to inventive lovers) in any other way.”


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