The New Student's Reference Work/Pillory
Pil′lory, an instrument for the public exposure and punishment of criminals. It consisted of a post and frame fixed on a platform. In the frame, which is attached to the post after the manner of a sign-board, are three holes through which the hands and head of the criminal are thrust, and out of which he cannot draw them. Standing behind the frame, he faces the gazing crowd. The exposure was a chief part of the punishment. At one time it was customary to shave the head wholly or partially. In the laws of Edmund I it was required so to construct the pillory as not to put the body “into peril.” In the earliest pillory punishments they seem to have been confined to offenses not amounting to felony, called misdemeanors, as using deceitful measures and weights, libel, seditious writings. Later on, common scolds, brawlers and others were punished in this way. In the 17th and 18th centuries it came to be used for the punishment of political offenders. It was abolished altogether in Britain in 1837.