“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Halifax in Halifax County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Colonial Punishment

Colonial Punishment Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
1. Colonial Punishment Marker
Inscription. During North Carolina’s early history, authorities used jails to house inmates before they could be tried or have their sentences carried out. Unlike today, jails were not usually used to punish offenders. Instead, corporal punishment was the norm and often involved stocks, pillory, and whipping post, all designed to inflict both pain and embarrassment upon the convicted. The sheriff often administered the punishment the same day the sentence was handed down.

A prisoner sentenced to the pillory inserted his or her hands and head into holes between two boards. Once secured, onlookers harassed the prisoner verbally and physically, often throwing rotten fruits and vegetables and even small stones. More severe infractions might involve nailing ears to the boards to help hold the prisoner’s head in place and severing them upon completion of the sentence.

Stocks required that the prisoner sit on a wooden rail, often honed to an uncomfortable ridge. His or her feet would be secured between two boards. Depending on the severity of the crime, a person remained in this uncomfortable position for hours, days, or weeks, subject to the catcalls and taunts of neighbors and townsfolk.

The whipping post was not reserved for the enslaved community. Persons of all races could be sentenced to this punishment. Authorities
Colonial Punishment Exhibit image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, October 27, 2012
2. Colonial Punishment Exhibit
constrained the prisoners by tying their hands above their head before the lash was administered, usually to the bare back.

For being a horse thief, the sheriff administered the following sentence to Thomas Richardson of Halifax on October 1788:
• Both ears nailed to the pillory
• Both ears cut off
• Branded with letter “H” on right cheek and letter “S” on left cheek
• 39 lashes on his bare back, “well laid on”
Location. 36° 19.816′ N, 77° 35.306′ W. Marker is in Halifax, North Carolina, in Halifax County. Marker is at the intersection of King Street and Market Street, on the left when traveling north on King Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Halifax NC 27839, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Halifax Colonial Jails (a few steps from this marker); Site of First Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Halifax Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Eagle Tavern (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Free Church of Halifax (about 300 feet away); The Market Green (about 300 feet away); Early American Taverns (about 300 feet away); The Tap Room (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Halifax.
Also see . . .  Historic Halifax. North Carolina Historic Sites (Submitted on October 30, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.) 
Categories. Colonial Era
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 30, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 426 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 30, 2012, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
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