Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 4/Ducking Stool at Liverpool


In the "Moore Rental" (1667-8), its editor, Thomas Heywood, Esq., F.S.A., observes that "the ducking (properly cucking) stool, at this period, with the pillory and stocks, ornamented every English market-town. Misson gives an elaborate account of the machinery for ducking scolding women, the trebuchet and the stool; and the punishment he describes as "pleasant enough." Bakers and brewers "who offended the statute" were subject to immersion, as also cuck-queans, which Lord Coke (3d inst. 219) and Mr William Gifford held to mean scolds, though other etymologists will have the word to signify the female of cuckold; and on reading this last critic's two notes upon the subject (Johnson's Works, ii. 482, iv. 424), we were almost led to believe that a woman was sometimes ducked because her husband was unfaithful. In the last edition of Burns (v. 246), Hawkins is quoted to show that after conviction for scolding, on indictment, the ducking must be inflicted. The last trace of the cucking-stool in Liverpool is the order for its repair, 1695, still remaining on the parish books. In Manchester, Barritt saw one standing in the pit—since the Infirmary Pool—now the Flags—half a century later.

The ducking-stool, according to Mr Richard Brookes' "Liverpool from 1775 to 1800," was in use in 1779, by the authority of the magistrates, in the House of Correction, which formerly stood upon Mount Pleasant, in that town. Its use there is noticed in Howard's "Appendix to the State of Prisons in England and Wales" (p. 258), and it is also alluded to by Mr James Nield, the philanthropist, in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1803.