Cucking Stool
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Then was the Scold herself,
In a wheelbarrow brought,
Stripped naked to the smock,
As in that case she ought:
Neats tongues about her neck
Were hung in open show;
And thus unto the cucking stool
This famous scold did go.

- The Cucking Of The Scold, a ballad written in the 1600s

Basic Information

The Cucking Stule is a form of chair to which a person can be bound as a punishment. It's similar to the Stocks or Bilboes, but presumably with lesser physical discomfort since you're not forced to stand in a weird position. It's more about social stigma and humiliation. This form of punishment goes back to 1215 at least, and continued some time past the Colonial Era, into the early 1800s.

Like the Ducking Stool, the Cucking Stool was sometimes put on wheels or a cart so the "criminal" could be rolled through town. In other communities, it was a sturdy permanent structure, usually in Town Square or some other prominent location such as near the Church. Often the convicted would have to recite a litany of their crimes while on the stool. In some cases the cucking stool was on a high pole or platform, possibly similar to the structure of a Ducking Stool's Crane (but without the associated dunking in water).

Unlike ducking, the cucking stule was used on both sexes. In addition to being used for crimes such as scolding your husband, slander, being a makebayt, brawling, prostitution, or giving birth to an illegitimate child, it was also considered proper punishment for dishonest brewers and bakers and other tradesmen who failed to deliver on promised goods, lied about ingredients, or otherwise cheated their customers.

Before dismissing the Cucking Stool as being entirely more lenient than the other punishments available in the era, one needs to consider that the meaning of the name. It literally means "defecation chair", and sometimes a chamber pot or commode was used. Imagine being tied to one of those, in public, for 12 hours or so.


2. Non-Fiction: Curious Punishments Of Bygone Days by Alice Morse Earle

Game and Story Use

  • Depending on the form of Cucking Stool used, it may be a lesser or worse punishment than the stocks, bilboes, and ducking stool. See those pages for ideas on how to use such punishments in your game.
  • Campaigns that rely on the gross-out factor and toilet humor may find the crudest variants of the Cucking Stool perfectly in-genre.
    • More serious campaigns might choose to avoid it. It's hard to imagine the Puritans strapping someone to a chamber pot to enforce purity, after all.
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