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Thread: Liverpool's Ducking Stool

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    Senior Member dazza's Avatar
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    Default Liverpool's Ducking Stool

    Every town had its own ducking-stool (also known as a cuck or cucking-stool). It was an instrument of punishment meted out by the town court for the offense of scolding or back biting - - normally women were the accused, but not always. Brewers, who watered-down ale could also find themselves in the seat for a dunking. Humiliation was also part of the deterrence, similar to the use of stocks.

    In Liverpool the cucking-stool is mentioned across several sources, but mostly in the town's records. James Stonehouse, writing in his book Recollections of Old Liverpool... refers to a cucking stool being situated in a pond called the "Flashes" by St Patrick's Cross, close to where Marybone is.

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    "At the top of Marybone, there was once a large pond, called the Flashes, where there was a ducking-post and this was a favourite place of punishment when the Lynch Law of that time was carried out. I once saw a woman ducked there She might have said with Queen Catherine : — you Do with me what you will, For any change must better my condition'

    There was a terrible row caused once by the rescue of a woman from the Cuckstool. At one time it threatened to be serious. The mayor was dining at my father's, and I recollect he was sent for in a great hurry, and my father and his guests all went with him to the pond. The woman was nearly killed, and her life for long despaired of. She was taken to the Infirmary, on the top of Shaw's Brow, where St. George's Hall now stands.

    The way they ducked was this. A long pole, which acted as a lever, was placed on a post ; at the end of the pole was a chair, in which the culprit was seated ; and by ropes at the other end of the lever or pole, the culprit was elevated or dipped in the water at the mercy of the wretches who had taken upon themselves the task of executing punishment. The screams of the poor women who were ducked were frightful. There was a ducking tub in the House of Correction, which was in use in Mr. Howard's time. I once went with him through the prison (as I shall describe presently) and saw it there. It was not till 1804 or 1805 that it was done away with."

    Map, 1769. Dale Street is running vertically in the centre. St Patrick's Cross (close to the Superlambanana today) is highlighted in the red circle, as is the pond the "Flashes" that Stonehouse mentioned above.

    1848 map with the approximate location of the "Flashes" pond laid over it.

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