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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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or Flogging, a method of corporal punishment which in one form or another has been used in all ages and all lands (see Bastinado, Knout, Cat-O'-Nine-Tails). In ancient Rome a citizen could not be scourged, it being considered an infamous punishment. Slaves were beaten with rods. Similarly in early medieval England the whip could not be used on the freeman, but was reserved for the villein. The Anglo-Saxons whipped prisoners with a three-corded knotted lash. It was not uncommon for mistresses to whip or have their servants whipped to death. William of Malmesbury relates that as a child King 'Ethelred was flogged with candles by his mother, who had no handier weapon, until he was insensible with pain. During the Saxon period whipping was the ordinary punishment for offences, great or small. Payments for whipping figure largely in municipal and parish accounts from an early date. The abolition of the monasteries, where the poor had been sure of free meals, led during the 16th century to an increase of vagrancy, at which the Statute of Labourers (1350) and its provisions as to whipping had been early aimed. In the reign of Henry VIII. was passed (1530) the famous Whipping Act, directing vagrants to be carried to some market town or other place "and there tied to the end of a cart naked and beaten with whips throughout such market town till the body shall be bloody." In the 39th year of Elizabeth a new act was passed by which the offender was to be stripped to the waist, not quite naked. It was under this statute that whipping-posts were substituted for the cart. Many of these posts were combined with stocks, as that at Waltham Abbey, which bears date "1598." It is of oak, 5 ft. 9 in. high, with iron clasps for the hands when used for whipping, and for the feet when used as stocks. Fourpence was the old charge for whipping male and female rogues. At quartersessions in Devonshire at Easter 1598 it was ordered that the mothers of bastard children should be whipped; the reputed fathers suffering a like punishment. In the west of England in 1684, "certain Scotch pedlars and petty chapmen being in the habit of selling their goods to the greate damage and hindrance of shoppe-keepers," the court ordered them to be stripped naked and whipped. The flogging of women was common. Judge Jeffreys, in so sentencing a female prisoner, is reported to have exclaimed, "Hangman, I charge you to pay particular attention to this lady. Scourge her soundly, man: scourge her till her blood runs down! It is Christmas: a cold time for madam to strip. See that you warm her shoulders." Lunatics, too, were whipped, for in the Constable's Accounts of Great Staughton, Hunts, occurs the entry, "1690-I, Paid in charges taking up a distracted woman, watching her and whipping her next day8/6d." A still more remarkable entry is "1710-I, Pd. Thomas Hawkins for whipping two people yt had smallpox-8d." In 1764 the Public Ledger states that a woman who is described as "an old offender" was taken from the Clerkenwell Bridewell to Enfield and there publicly whipped at the cart's tail by the common hangman for cutting wood in Enfield Chase. A statute of 1791 abolished the whipping of females.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Whipping'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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