Wenhaston Archive Project History Notes

History Note No.20: Punishments

History Note No.20: Punishments
The Stocks, Whipping Post, Ducking Stool and Transportation were all forms of punishment used in the local area

The Parish Constable was a volunteer appointed every year by the Justices of the Peace. He was in charge of the Stocks, Whipping Post and Ducking Stool. The first two were placed outside the church while the Ducking Stool was at the village pond, by the Church Room.

At the quarter sessions at Beccles in 1774, Sarah Culver was publically whipped for stealing three loaves from the house of John Stratford of Wenhaston. In the Constable"s accounts in the 18th century various amounts were being paid for the mending and upkeep of the Stocks, Whipping Post and Ducking Stool so they must have been used quite a bit!

During the Peasants Revolt of 1381 it was reported that William Deye of Shadingfield entered the house of John Mekeway in Wenhaston and threatened to behead him if he did not pay a fine to him.

Transportation was a means of punishment. 24th March 1820 Benjamin Bunn had been sentenced to death for breaking into the house of Rev C Collins and stealing money. He was reprieved and transported for life. 5th July 1824 Robert Gissing was sent off for seven years for stealing a quantity of beans, while on 5th August 1824 James Woodgate was reprieved from a death sentence for stealing a grey mare pony from James Newby and transported for 14 years.

In Whites Directory of 1844 it stated that there were Petty Sessions held at Wenhaston every third Wednesday. At Yoxford Petty Sessions a number of local cases resulted in fines, hard labour or being sent for trial.

Moral judgements came under the power of the Church. Penances were performed. One example was in December 1732 Priscilla Ludbrook was accused of Fornication. She had to wear a white sheet and hold a white rod. Standing first in the porch, she then walked up the aisle to the priest at the altar, and pinned on her chest was a paper detailing her crime. At the altar she had to stand throughout the service and sermon, then turn to the congregation and falling to her knees, make her peace.