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Its prevalence was held to cause dearth, famine and despair; English “regratours” and forestallers were frequently pilloried. Even in Piers Plowman we read:
“For these aren men on this molde that moste harm worcheth,
To the pore peple that parcel-mete buyggen
Thei rychen thorow regraterye.”
The state archives of Maryland are full of acts and resolves about forestallers, etc., and severe punishments were decreed. It was, in truth, the curse of that colony. All our merchandise brokers to-day would in those days have been liable to be thrust in prison or pillory.
In the year 1648 I learn from the Maryland archives that one John Goneere, for perjury, was “nayled by both eares to the pillory 3 nailes in each eare and the nailes to be slitt out, and whipped 20 good lashes.” The same year Blanch Howell wilfully, unsolicited and unasked, committed perjury. The “sd Blanche shall stand nayled in the Pillory and loose both her eares.” Both those sentences were “exequuted.”
In New York the pillory was used. Under Dutch rule, Mesaack Maartens, accused of stealing cabbages from Jansen, the ship-carpenter living on ’t maagde paatje, was sentenced to stand in the pillory with cabbages on his head. Truly this was a striking sight. Dishonest bakers were set in the pillory with dough on their heads. At the trial of this Mesaack Maartens, he was tortured to make him confess. Other criminals in New York bore torture; a sailor — wrongfully, as was proven — a woman, for stealing stockings. At the time of the Slave Riots cruel tortures were inflicted. Yet to Massachusetts, under the excitement and superstition caused by that tragedy in New England history, the witchcraft trials, is forever accorded the disgrace that one of her citizens was pressed to death, one Giles Corey. The story of his death is too painful for recital.