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Colonial House Picture of the colony
Meet the Colonists Behind the Scenes Interactive History Media Gallery
About the Project
Introduction The Laws About the Series About the Experts Plimoth Plantation Credits

The Rules
General Background
The Offices
Matters of the Council
For the Ordering of Society
Worship and the Sabbath
Trade and Indians
Of Masters and Servants
Other Matters
The Punishments

Other Criminal and Civil Matters
Photo of goats
OF OTHER CRIMINAL AND CIVIL MATTERS

Drunkenness
Common drunkenness, transforming God's image into a beast, or causing someone to become drunk in your house will not be tolerated.

Punished with "the punishment of beasts: a whip for the horse, and a rod for the fool's back." An alternative punishment was levying a fine.

Profanity
Rash and profane swearing and cursing to be punished.

Punishments included: 1st. With loss of honor, or, if he be a magistrate or officer, with loss of office. 2d. With loss of freedom. 3d. With disability to give testimony. 4th. With corporal punishment, either by whipping or by branding him with a hot iron, or boring through the tongue with a bodkin, he who have bored and pierced God's name.

Wicked Tongues
There will be no scolding or abusing fellow Colonists with one's tongue.

Punished by public reprimand.

Slander
Colonists shall not Slander one another.

Punished with a public acknowledgement and apology for the slander, or a payment of a fine if the slander brought damages.
Slander was also punished with whipping if it was "gross and odious and against persons whom the man ought to honor or cherish -- whether they be his Superiors or in some degrees of equality, his wife."

Other punishments included: for the first offense, a woman who abused her husband, neighbors or others by very harsh language would be put in the stocks for two hours; for the second offense, cucking -- which is a chair, or stool in which the offender was fastened and exposed to the jeers of bystanders, or taken to a pond or river and ducked, and then whipped.

Lying
Every person of the age of discretion who shall willingly lie with intent to deceive and abuse with false news or reports, which may be damaging or hurtful, will be punished.

Punished with a fine of ten shillings for every lie told. If the offender was unable to pay the fine, then he'd be set in the stocks in some open place not exceeding the space of two hours.

Stealing Beasts
If a man steals a beast for his own good that belongs to the Colony, if it be found in his hand, he shall make restitution two for one. If it be killed and sold, restitution is to be made five for one.

If the thief was unable to make restitution, then he became the servant to the Governor of the Colony, till by labor he made due restitution.

Thievery
A thief of any foods, property, or commodity shall make restitution as above.

If unable to make restitution, he became a servant, as above.

Other punishments included: branding on the forehead with a "T" and having an ear cut off.

Suspicious Behavior
Unseemly, lustful, or other suspicious behaviors are against the law.

Punishments included whipping, fines, and paper stating the offense pinned to the chest at public meetings, or the Governor determined the punishment.

Wife Beating
A man is not allowed to beat his wife.

Punished by whipping.

Abusive Children
Abusive speech or behavior towards parents by Children will not be tolerated.

Punished by whipping.

Runaway Children
Children may not run away from their fathers.

Children were levied a fine.

Fornication
Fornication between a man and a single woman, be the man married or unmarried, and other unclean behavior is to be punished.

A fine of £10 plus 3 days in prison was imposed. If there was no prison, the offender would be locked in a cage and exposed to public view and abuse. If there was a contract to marry, the fine would be reduced to £5 each, with imprisonment. If the fine remained unpaid, the couple would be publicly whipped.

Adultery
A man, married or unmarried, will not be allowed to commit adultery with a married woman.

An actual punishment was: "... whipping or a heavy fine.
Or: 6 weeks after she delivered a child, she shall stand in a white sheet publicly in the congregation for two Sabbath days, and likewise for one day at the general court."

Unmarried Couples
Unmarried couples who carry out wanton dalliance will not be tolerated.

Punished with fines at the discretion of the Court, or paper pinned to the chest at a public meeting.

Lewdness to Women
Men may not make uncivil words or carriages to any woman.

Punished by a fine.


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