In Praise of the Scold’s Bridle

A while ago I did a post on the horrors of this, aka the brank, regarded now as an isntrument of torture, but here is a man praising it:

Dr Plott in History of Staffordshire “They have an artifice at Newcastle-under-Lyne and Walsall for correcting the scolds, which it does so effectually, and so safely, that I look upon it as much to be preferred to the Cuckng Stool, which not only endangers the health of the party, but also gives the tongue the liberty ‘twixt every dip, to neither of which this is at all liable; It being such a bridle for the tongue as not only quite deprives them of speech but brings shame for the transgression and humility thereupon, before ‘tis taken off; which being put on the offender, by order of the magistrates and fastened with a padlock behind, she is led round he town by the officer to her shame, nor is it taken off till after the party begins to show all external signs of humiliation and amendment,.

Brand remarks that a pair of branks is still preserved in the town court of Newcastle-under-Lyne, where the same custom once prevailed.

I think this shows he never saw it in action, or at least not against any really angry woman. But he is probably correct that it was effective. By comparison, the ducking stool seems to have often been used in winter, that is a real snow on the ground winter, in a probably filthy pond, akin to a cesspool, so if the woman didn’t die of hyperthermia she likely did of some dire infection. Truly horrific.


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