Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 16 January 2015

Rough Justice

Back in August I told the sad and sorry story of a childhood acquaintance who went on to be hanged for murder, in A Curious Incident and I was once thrown into prison myself for witchcraft (I was in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible when I was a teenager and you can see the picture here.). Apart from that I’ve always tried to be a law-abiding citizen and the nearest I have come to methods of punishment is viewing the castle dungeons on our many visits to castles, or town jails/gaols, when we’ve been on some historical/heritage experience/trail over the years. Other members of my family have been photographed in the stocks and pillories (in 1987: Littlecote and 1989: Lacock).


This week’s Sepia Saturday has a legal theme and a prompt picture of a courtroom. I was once foreman of a jury but there were no photographic records of the occasion; there are strict rules in English Law about that sort of thing!


Referring once more to the book I introduced you to last week,* I found this interesting case.

Fortune Teller Held in Pillory
Last Tuesday at the Sessions held at Newbury, came on the trial of Elizabeth Sevens, otherwise Dame Cryer, a noted fortune-teller for several years past, being prosecuted by one Mondy of the Parish of Kingsclere, for having charged him with robbing his father of some Household Goods and Gammon of Bacon, the Father upon losing these Things having applied to the said Fortune-teller for information concerning them. She was tried by Special Jury and found guilty, was sentenced to be imprisoned for twelve Months and to stand four Times in the pillory within the time of her imprisonment. From The Ipswich Journal 16 December 1758

Not much of a fortune-teller; she should have seen that coming! It seems rather a harsh sentence for just making some bad guesses and I expect there is more to this case than meets the eye. For more tales of law-breaking and rough justice, visit other Sepians to see what they made of the prompt.

*News From the English Countryside 1750-1850 by Clifford Morsley

13 comments:

  1. It was obviously a salutory experience for the small boy in the stocks, who went on to be a policeman!

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  2. Perhaps Elizabeth was an excellent fortune teller & had it right? Tried by a Special Jury? Hmmm?? Sounds a little fishy to me. As to stocks & pillories, folks think it's fun to pretend to be stuck in them now; but back in the day, with people throwing rotten fruit & vegetables & who knows what else at you while you stand or sit there helpless to avoid the mushy stuff, it wasn't a piece of cake!

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  3. How interesting! And I am also interested that it was reported in Ipswich when she was in West Berkshire! Must have seemed like the other end of the earth in those days!

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  4. It sounds like a very convoluted set of facts! I wonder how long four times in the pillory was.

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  5. I agree. I think there is more to this story!

    I love reading the old court case information, which can seem unbelievable today!

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  6. Unlike England, Belgium and France there is no trial by jury in The Netherlands. What you call a pillory we call a schandblok, a block of shame, which describes it nicely I think.

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  7. I love the fortune teller story!

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  8. The fortune-teller's sentence seems excessive from our viewpoint today.

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  9. I suspect that fortune-telling was considered blasphemy back then...and THAT certainly got you time in the pillory!

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  10. I have always wondered whether the location Stocks Hill in the village where I was born could once have had the village stocks.

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  11. Pillories, stocks, or Rob's wonderful Dutch word - schandblok, seem silly and charming hundreds of years later, but anyone who spent a few days rather a few seconds in one would learn what a barbaric punishment it was. Sadly there are some fanatics in the world who would have us return to such things.
    Do you think Elizabeth Sevens might have been transported for her crime?

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  12. See -- people love pretending to have crossed over to the dark side!

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  13. Your post directing to the older post has brought up a lot of memories that I like to keep in the farthest regions of my mental filing cabinet.

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