Whipping

The 1792 criminal law statute encouraged the use of the whip, although it is hard to detect a consistent standard in the details of the recurring public drama thus mandated, especially in the number of lashes administered. Petit larceny, the most common offence in the early period, was routinely punished by public whipping.

There was three offenders sentenced to public floggings on Prince Edward Island. The first person so humiliated under authority of the new statute was Donald McIntyre, a servant of the Collector of Customs convicted of a series of petty larcenies. The sentence was 36 lashes on three occasions, for a total of 108 stripes. This form of punishment was instituted in England by the 1530 Whipping Act of Henry VIII, which specified that the offender be whipped at the end of a cart "till the body became bloody."

In June of 1792 two further whippings were ordered by Chief Justice Stewart. Richard Moorfield and John Barfoot were each sentenced to three repetitions of 60 lashes at the tail of a cart - of which the last 120 lashes were cancelled for no given reason. Two days later, Davy Sheppard was convicted of theft valued at 10 pence - and his 39 lashes were also remitted.

All early Island records of penal whippings specify that the punishment was administered in either of two ways. Usually the offender was "whipt through town" by being paraded while bound by the arms to the tail of a cart or sleigh, with the lashes administered during pauses at three local landmarks. Alternatively, it was done with the offender tied to the Bellpost This was perhaps the most public spot in town since it was on Queen Street, and was in front ofRichardson's Coffee House, where the Town Bell was rung to summon the citizenry to hear news of the Town Crier.

In 1794 Willism Belinger, a black man who was given more than 600 lashes in all, received 200 lashes at the Belipost one week after he had been given 100 lashes. Most men received 39 lashes at each ofthree stops for atotal ofll7 on agiven day. In 1817, Robert Bears was given a harsh sentence upon conviction ofgrand larceny; 150 lashes at each of three stops on whipping para;le, for a total of 450 in one day. In 1813 Thomas McCarinor died after receiving the second of three sets of 39 lashes following a conviction for robbery, it was said that Liutenant Governor Smith insisted the second flogging be laid on much harder, because he felt the first had been too soft.

Whipping long continued as apublic corporal punishment, there are indications that public floggings were held in all three counties until past mid-century. In 1842 Christopher Lawson was convicted in the Supreme Court in Charlottetown of three counts of larceny, receiving three months injail, afiuther six months with hard labour, and 39 lashes. On December 6, 1844, at St. Eleanors, Prince County, Jeremiah Maher was whipped as part of a punishment that included two months in jail, he received 39 lashes from SheriffJames Warburton while tied to a gate in front of the Courthouse. This practice persisted here later than in England, where public whippings were abolished in 1817. In Island laws passed in 1836, 1851, 1861, and 1869, male offenders were singled out for the judical option of adding public whipping to their sentences.

Researched by Denis Alisic