Ducking Stool

views updated May 11 2018


DUCKING STOOL, an armchair used for punishing certain offenders, including witches, scolds, and prostitutes. The offender was strapped into a sturdy chair, which was fastened to a long wooden beam fixed as a seesaw on the edge of a pond or stream, where the offender was immersed. This form of public humiliation prevailed in England and America from the early seventeenth century through the early nineteenth century, when reformers called for more humane punishments. Still, judges in many states continued to sentence lesser offenders to ducking as late as the 1820s. Many of these sentences, however, either were not carried out or were reduced to fines.


Pestritto, Ronald J. Founding the Criminal Law: Punishment and Political Thought in the Origins of America. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2000.

Fred B.Joyner/s. b.

See alsoCrime ; Pillory ; Punishment ; Stocks .

ducking stool

views updated May 21 2018

ducking stool a chair fastened to the end of a pole, used formerly to plunge offenders into a pond or river as a punishment, and used particularly for disorderly women, scolds, and dishonest tradesmen.

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Ducking stool

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