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  • April 23, 1771, some people were sitting around reading news articles published by theEssex

  • Gazette.”

  • One article was dedicated to the punishment of a man named William Carlisle.

  • He'd been found guilty of using counterfeit money in the town of Newport, Massachusetts.

  • The newspaper said he was sentenced to one hour in the pillory, during which time both

  • his cheeks were branded with the letter “R'.

  • That was because he'd been accused of being a “rogue”.

  • If that wasn't bad enough, they sliced off both of his ears.

  • Needless to say, they were tough on crime back in those days.

  • We found this information in a series of notes and news clippings in something called, “The

  • olden time series - some strange and curious punishments.”

  • Most of the crimes and the punishments discussed had taken place in Boston and Salem, Massachusetts.

  • It makes for interesting reading.

  • Someone who'd written a book that had upset the authorities was forced to literally eat

  • his own words.

  • That meant the book he'd written was pulled apart and then force-fed to the hapless man.

  • He had to eat the pages until the authorities thought if he ate more, he'd die.

  • For worse crimes, there were worse measures.

  • Pirates just about always went to the gallows, although those people who'd been forced

  • to work on pirate ships got off lightly.

  • Robberies also usually meant execution, as did murder, or in one case, an attempted murder

  • of a woman by her husband.

  • Petty thievery it seems usually resulted in the accused being whipped.

  • In another case, a man accused of being a bad husband was paraded through town and shouted

  • at by the mobs.

  • As for unruly kids in olden days America.

  • Sometimes teachers would make them put walnuts in their mouths, so they were unable to speak.

  • Other kids would be forced to walk around all day carrying a heavy stone.

  • One teacher had something he called thethe mansion of misery”, which was a space he'd

  • drawn with chalk on the floor where naughty kids had to stand for hours perfectly still.

  • If they moved, they might take a beating with his paddle.

  • Just so you better understand the climate of the times, here are some more punishments

  • we found: A woman who'd been fighting for women's

  • rights was accused of upsetting the elders.

  • For that, her tongue was literally tied.

  • Another person wastied neck and heels and thrown into a pond.”

  • That's just brutal.

  • One person got off lucky and was only, “tied to a tree and chastised.”

  • The person who was sentenced to having theirtongue bored with a hot ironwasn't

  • so fortunate.

  • Quite a few folks were forced to walk on thetreadmill”, which was a bit like a step

  • machine in the gym except you couldn't get off.

  • Perhaps the most bizarre punishment we found in this booklet was someone being, “sewed

  • up in bed-clothes and thrashed.”

  • In view of that, ear-cropping wasn't exactly a big thing back then.

  • There were a whole host of cruel and unusual punishments in what was called the New World.

  • But you might be wondering, because they had so many strange punishments, what made the

  • judge choose a certain one?

  • Well, execution was reserved for the worst punishments, and whipping was very common

  • indeed.

  • When it came to ear-cropping and branding the onus was on making the person live the

  • rest of their lives in shame.

  • Forevermore when they walked around people knew they'd committed a crime.

  • With branding, a person wore the letter that represented the particular crime.

  • So, if they were a cheat, or adulterer as people would say back then, they were branded

  • with an A. If they were a blasphemer, they got a B. Drunks, likely drunks who'd caused

  • trouble, would forevermore wear a D. Thieves got a T, and people accused of forgery got

  • an F. So then, why take a person's ear?

  • Well, it's complicated.

  • Let's now visit England and see why it happened there.

  • Take for instance the story of a man named Thomas Barrie.

  • He was what was called analmoner”.

  • This was a person of the church who did the nice thing of giving alms to the poor.

  • It was a good job to have, but it didn't prevent a person from getting into trouble.

  • Barrie was around during the reign of King Henry VIII.

  • Close to the end of Henry's life, Barrie started saying he'd heard that the king

  • was already dead.

  • He thought he had reliable sources, so he went about telling people.

  • The trouble was, Henry wasn't dead.

  • Saying the king is dead was a huge crime back then, and one that would usually result in

  • execution since it was an act of treason.

  • Barrie wasn't sentenced to death, but he was sentenced to standing in the pillory all

  • day long while people in the market square stood around calling him treasonous while

  • throwing rotten vegetables at him.

  • If that wasn't bad enough, his ears were nailed to the wood.

  • As the sun went down that day, the authorities cut off his ears and let him out of the pillory.

  • Some sources say he died of shock there and then, but other sources say he lived on.

  • This was one form of cropping.

  • They always intended to take off his ears, but worse, the punishment was intended for

  • the person to struggle in the pillory while dealing with a sometimes hostile mob, and

  • therefore rip their own ears off.

  • It was also a symbolic punishment in this case since Barrie had spread rumors which

  • had entered other people's heads through their ears.

  • Then there was William Prynne.

  • In the 17th century, he was well-known for writing a lot of pamphlets that delineated

  • his religious beliefs.

  • He was quite the Puritan and detested all forms of decadence, including drinking booze,

  • which was as common as drinking water in his native England.

  • He even hated acting, which put him on the wrong side of King Charles I. Charlie's

  • wife was a big fan of the theater.

  • To cut a long story short, Prynne bugged a lot of people, a lot of powerful people.

  • He ended up in prison, but even while in a cell, he managed to troll the people he didn't

  • like.

  • That's why in 1633 he had SL branded on both cheeks, which stood for Seditious Libel.

  • They also sliced off both his ears.

  • Even though he walked with marks of shame, King Charles II took a liking to him and he

  • spent the latter part of his life a free man.

  • We found quite a few cases of people accused of libel in England who were given a hefty

  • prison sentence to be served without a pair of ears.

  • Believe it or not, England had a kind of three-strikes law long before it was introduced in the USA.

  • Under Henry VIII, the Vagabonds Act 1530 came into existence.

  • It's said to be one of the first poor laws, a kind of welfare, because it made sure that

  • beggars could have a license to beg if they applied for one.

  • This was better than before because prior to that they might have just been punished.

  • The law, however, was tough on vagrants, people accused of just not wanting to work rather

  • than being disabled or old.

  • Under this new law, if people were arrested for vagrancy the first time they were put

  • in the stocks for three days.

  • But if they were caught again, they had their ears shorn off.

  • If they were struck out a third time they were executed.

  • So, it was during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Britain that ear-cropping was

  • sometimes the go-to punishment for sedition, which basically means saying things that might

  • make people want to rebel against the authorities, mainly the church and the monarchy.

  • Ear-cropping actually didn't happen too often, but there are plenty of reliable resources

  • that stated it definitely did happen.

  • Here's what a British chronicler wrote after he'd watched a person having his ears cropped.

  • The executioner cut off his ears deep and closewith much effusion of blood, an artery

  • being cut.”

  • The further we looked into this, we found that in some countries other body parts might

  • have been removed.

  • When nuns rebelled in the 6th century at a French Benedictine monastery, some of them

  • had their noses removed.

  • It happened a bit later to the Byzantine emperor, Justinian II.

  • After that, he wore a golden prosthesis.

  • Apparently, this kind of mutilation was common in Byzantine culture, as it was in parts of

  • East Asia.

  • In ancient Egypt, there was something called thegreat harem conspiracy”.

  • A harem had conspired to bring down the ruler, pharaoh Ramesses III.

  • That resulted in a few people losing not only their noses but also their ears.

  • Scholars sometimes disagree about the translation of this version of events, but it seems quite

  • a few conspirators were executed, others were forced to take their own lives, some lost

  • their nose and ears, and at least one was given a “severeverbal warning.

  • In fact, we found this kind of thing happening all over the place back in the day.

  • When the great Danish king, king Cnut reigned over not only Denmark but England and Norway,

  • he introduced some new laws.

  • This is how one of them went, “A woman who commits adultery with another man whilst her

  • husband is still alive, and is found out, shall suffer public disgrace, and her husband

  • will have all her property, and she will lose her nose and ears.”

  • In various parts of the world at some point in time the crime of adultery could have led

  • to losing a nose or ears.

  • In some cases, the part of the body that came off was a man's penis, and other times,

  • a person's eyes could be gouged out.

  • But let's stick with the ears for now and hear more about ear-cropping in North America.

  • The winter of 1609-1610 was a bad time in the Virginia colony.

  • In fact, it was called, “The Starving Time.”

  • A lot of people literally had nothing to eat.

  • This is how one person described it, “Having fed upon horses and other beasts as long as

  • they lasted, we were glad to make shift with vermin, as dogs, cats, and mice.”

  • Some people also apparently ate shoe leather and the rotten flesh from corpses they'd

  • dug up.

  • It wasn't a nice scene at all.

  • You can imagine these folks weren't exactly soft on crime.

  • If people were found stealing food during the starving time it was very likely they'd

  • be punished in a cruel and unusual way.

  • If it was just petty theft, they might have had something called a bodkin inserted in

  • their tongue.

  • This device kind of looked like an arrowhead or a spike.

  • That wasn't close to the worst that could happen.

  • In 1623 in Virginia a guy named Captain Richard Quailes was sent to the pillory, although

  • it's not exactly clear why.

  • This is what was written about the nature of his punishment.

  • He should beset upon the pillory with his ears nailed thereto, they either to be

  • cut off of or redeemed by paying the fine of 100 pounds sterling.”

  • Fast-forward to 1755 and a person might have picked up the Maryland Gazette.

  • On one particular day, they'd have read that an African-American woman had been flogged

  • but also had herears cropped close.”

  • Around the same time, someone might have readThe Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania.”

  • This was what that law said about counterfeiting.

  • Such person or persons shall be sentenced to the pillory and to have both his or her

  • ears cut off and nailed to the pillory, and to be publicly whipped on his or her bare

  • back with thirty-one lashes well laid on.”

  • Horse thieves received a similar punishment, but they might also have been branded with

  • the letters, H.T.

  • In 1782, a guy named Brice McWhimney of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, lost his ears after

  • stealing a horse, but it seems he didn't get the brand treatment.

  • He did get 39 lashes, though.

  • In 1790, in Tennessee, two guys named John Wilson and Joseph Fulsome were accused of

  • horse stealing.

  • Their punishment was to beconfined in the public pillory for the space of one hour,

  • and that each of them have both their ears nailed to the pillory and severed from their

  • heads.”

  • In 1794, a slave in Virginia was accused of stealing a hog from the man that enslaved

  • him.

  • He had one of his ears nailed to the pillory and after an hour it was cut off.

  • Then his other ear was nailed to the pillory and that too was cut off after an hour.

  • The New England Puritans created something called the Blue Laws, likely called that because

  • they were written on blue paper.

  • The laws related to being impious, which could mean a lot of things.

  • Drinking too much, or shopping on a Sunday, or even showing someone too much affection,

  • could land a person in trouble.

  • It was normal in New England but seen as backward in some other places.

  • A woman could even have been found guilty of theexcessive wearing of lacebecause

  • that could get men aroused.

  • Back then, men in the town of New Haven were forced to wear a hat on Saturday and shave

  • off all the hair that remained under the brim of the hat.

  • If they didn't have a hat, they had to wear half a pumpkin shell.

  • That is why they were sometimes calledpumpkin heads”.

  • According to Reverend Samuel Peters in hisGeneral History of Connecticut”, one

  • of the reasons why they had to cut their hair wassuch persons as have lost their ears

  • for heresy, and other wickedness, cannot conceal their misfortune and disgrace.”

  • Hearing that, you have to wonder just how common ear-cropping was.

  • As far as we can see, branding and ear-cropping didn't completely die out in the US until

  • around 1850, and much of the time it was slaves who were the victims of the punishment.

  • Louisiana, for instance, had something called the Black Code or Code Noir.

  • This law made it possible for slave owners to brand or crop the ears of slaves who had

  • run away.

  • It seems these days the only victims of such barbarity are some family pets.

  • Now you need to watch, “The Catherine Wheel - Worst Punishments In The History of Mankind.”

  • Or, have a look at...

April 23, 1771, some people were sitting around reading news articles published by theEssex

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Cropping of Ears - Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind

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    Summer posted on 2021/04/14
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