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Digital Incarceration: The Finger Pillory

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

by S. Drew, Improbable Research staff

The finger pillory is a simple device for restraining the finger—and thus the body—of someone who has been fingered as being a miscreant.

The drawing and description shown here (below) are from the book The Archeological Album; or Museum of National Antiquities, edited by Thomas Wright, illustrated by F.W. Fairholt, London, Chapman and Hall, 1845.

An item in the October 25, 1851 issue of Notes and Queries describes a finger pillory in the Church of Ashby-de-la-Zouch. Thomas Lawrence, the author of that note (see Figure 2), says:

Its use is stated to have been for the punishment of persons guilty of malpractices during divine service; truly, a mischievous urchin, or a lout of a farm servant, dragged off to the stocks, must have been a scene extremely edifying to the congregation, particularly if the offenders were obstreperous, and had no inclination whatever to be in a fix.


This article is republished with permission from the September-October 2007 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift! Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

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