Scold's Bridle - justice for women 400 years ago?

Scold's Bridle

A scold’s bridle was a punishment for women of lower classes (known as shrews or scolds) whose talk was riotous or troublesome. It was  used to punish women who were causing trouble, spreading malicious gossip or fighting in their neighbourhood. Women would be placed in a public place with the scold’s bridle on and sometimes beaten. It was first introduced in England in 1567 and eventually abolished in 1856. In Scotland where it was also used it was called a brank. The scold’s bridle was also used on female convicts who caused trouble such as quarrelling or thieving onboard the convict ships on their way to Australia.

Quaker women were known to be given this punishment for preaching their 'message'.

National Curriculum Links

KS3 History:

   Chronological Understanding
   Change and Continuity

Some questions to ask in the classroom:

1. What do you think the consequences of this punishment would have meant to a woman at this time?

Think about Mothers talking to their children, or women giving instructions about e.g. about what as needed to feed the family.  What other important things might women talk about that would affect daily life?

2. What do you think might be considered the equivalent to 'riotous or troublesome behaviour' today?

4. What do think the effect of this punishment might have had on the person e.g do you think it would have acted as a deterent or made matters worse?

5. If you think this punishment wouldn't have prevented this kind of 'troublesome behaviour', what more positive kinder ideas can you think of that would act as a deterent. 

6. What countries would have been referred to as the 'colonies' at that time?

7. See what more you can find out about Quakers on My Learning

The National Centre for Citizenship and the Law is here. It is based at the Galleries of Justice.»

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