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Stocks, Punishment

STOCKS, PUNISHMENT, a wooden structure formerly in use both on the continent of Europe and in Great Britain as a method of punishment for petty offences. The culprit sat on a wooden bench with his ankles, and sometimes his wrists or even neck, thrust through holes in movable boards, generally for at least several hours. That stocks were used by the Anglo-Saxons is proved by their often figuring in drawings of the time (see Harleian MSS. No. 65). The second Statute of Labourers (1350) ordered the punishment for unruly artisans. It further enjoined that stocks (ceppes) should be made in every town between the passing of the act and the following Pentecost. The act appears to have been ill observed, for in 1376 the Commons prayed Edward III. that stocks should be set up in every village. Though never expressly abolished, the punishment of the stocks began to die out in England during the early part of the 19th century, though there is a recorded case of its use so late as 1865 at Rugby. In many of the villages in the country may still be seen well-preserved examples of stocks, in some cases with whipping posts attached. In the United States stocks were of frequent use in the 18th century, more particularly in the New England States; while in the Southern States they were employed for punishing slaves.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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