Primary Resource

"Women Causing Scandalous Suites to be Ducked" (1662)

In December 1662, the General Assembly passed a law stating that any woman found guilty of slander could be punished by being ducked, or plunged underwater, to save her husband from paying a fine.

Transcription from Original

Women Causing Scandalous suites to be ducked.

WHEREAS oftentimes many brabling women often slander and scandalize their neighbours for which their poore husbands are often brought into chargeable and vexatious suites, and cast in greate damages; Bee it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid that in actions of slander occasioned by the wife as aforesaid after judgment passed for the damages the women

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shalbe punished by ducking; and if the slander be soe enormous as to be adjudged at a greater damage then five hundred pounds of tobacco, then the woman to suffer a ducking for each five hundred pounds of tobacco adjudged against the husband if he refuse to pay the tobacco.