In the old Priory Church of Leominster*, Herefordshire you wil find one of the last surviving English ducking stools. It was last used in 1809 for one Jenny Pipes, accused of being a “nag” and a “scold.” The stool would be suspended over a body of water into which the prisoner was dunked. Generally reserved for nuisance women, the Leominster stool was also a tool for the public humiliation of men, particularly dishonest traders.
Accompanying the stool is a notice that asks visitors to say a “prayer of reconciliation.” Some of the good folk of Leominster, it seems, are ashamed of the stool and are a tad nervous that it stands so prominently in the church.
The US inherited the English common law offense of being a scold. In 1971, a New Jersey woman (for only women can be scolds) was charged with being a scold after an argument with two men over a parked car. The New Jersey Superior Court threw out the charge.
*Pronounced Lem-ster. The wife and I stayed in a lovely youth hostel next to the Priory.