Monday, May 3, 2010

When were ducking stools used?

Ducking stools first came into use as a punishment for women at the beginning of the 17th Century and were used in England as late as the beginning of the 19th Century. A ducking stool was a wooden armchair fastened to the end of a long wooden beam fixed like a seesaw on the edge of a river or pond. Sometimes it was mounted on wheels so that it could be pushed through the streets.

The stool was used to punish nagging wives, witches and prostitutes. An iron band kept the victim from falling out of the chair when it was plunged under the water. It was the duty of magistrates to order the number of duckings a woman should be given.

Another type of ducking stool was a chair on two wheels with two long shafts fixed to the axles. When the stool was pushed into the pond and the shafts were released the seat was tipped up backwards, but in this case the woman was not fastened in.

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