"In London, at the beginning of the 14th Century a man convicted of treason in the court of the mayor, was bound to a stake in the Thames during two flows and two ebbs of the tide. " (Tyburn Tree, Its History and Annals, by Alfred Marks; Brown, Langham & Co.; London. Liber Custumorium; ed. by Riley; Vol. I; page 150.)
" 1557. The VI day of April was hanged at the low water mark at Wapping beyond St. Katharine's 7 for robbing on the sea. " (From Machyn's Diary.)
In Holinshed's Chronide, and referring to the Sixteenth Century: "pirates and robbers by sea are condemned in the court of admiralty, and hanged on the shore at low water mark, where they are left till three tides have over washed them. "
In 1530 Parliament directed that Richard Roose be boiled to death. (See page 21, Burough Customs; by Selden Society; also pp. 73, 74.) From Holinshed's Chronicle: "Such as having walls and banks near unto the sea, and do suffer the same to decay (after convenient admonition) whereby the water entereth and drowneth up the country, are by a certain custom apprehended, condemned, and staked in the breach, where they remain for ever as parcel of the foundation of the new wall that is made upon them, as I have heard reported. "
(Note--Much that is now done by local, state, and national governments such as building highways, bridges, sea walls, dykes, schools, sewers, the removal of garbage, police and fire protection, etc., was in the Middle Ages the responsibility of individuals, churches, fraternities volunteer associations, and other private and semi-private agencies.)
The Laws of Henry I mention scalping and flaying as punishments. (For Chapter on "Drawn, Hanged, and Quartered" see page 27 of Tyburn Tree.)
There were three modes of "drawing": dragging along the ground on a sled or without a sled to place of execution; dragging on ground by horses until victim was dead; tying between horses which pulled in opposite directions. When Wm. Loughead was drawn to Tyburn sharp stones were laid in the path.
In 1238 a man was accused of attempting to assassinate Henry III. In the first place he was drawn asunder, then beheaded, then his body was divided in three parts, each of which was dragged through one of the greatest cities of England and afterwards hung on the robbers' gibbet. (See Chron. Majora, by Matthew Paris; III, p. 497.)
A typical form of punishing a heretic by the Church w as to tie him to a stake; heap branches around him; fire them with him looking on; hoot at him when he began to scream; to disembowel him; to cut or pull out his tongue (the "agent of heresy"); to scatter his ashes. For centuries the orthodox punishments for treason were:
1. Drawn to gallows. 2. Hanged, then let down alive. 3. Bowels removed. 4. Next, to be burned 5. Head cut off. 6. Body divided into four parts.
In his East London Besant writes: "Next to Wapping Old Stairs is 'Execution Dock' this was the place where sailors were hanged and all criminals sentenced for offenses committed on the waters. They were hanged at low tide on the foreshore, and were kept hanging until three tides had overflowed their bodies . . . The prisoner was conveyed to the spot in a cart, beside him his own coffin, while the ordinary sat beside him and exhorted him. He wore the customary white night-cap and carried a Prayer Book in one hand, while a nosegay was stuck in his bosom. " Captain Kidd was hanged there, March 23, 1701. Shakespeare mentions executions in the rough sands In a number of cases executions were postponed be cause of low tide. (See Old Dundee Lodge, by Arthur Heiron; p. 77.)
A visitor to England in 1598 left it on record that about 300 pirates were hanged each year. The cruel and inhuman form of these punishments was often condemned, especially among craftsmen in the gilds who always had a better sense of justice and more humanity than the so-called "upper" classes, or even some sections of the clergy; when these protests began to have weight Chief Justice Coke argued against them in favor of severe penalties in his Institutes (Part III; 1644; page 210), and gave what he took to be Biblical authority for each of them, but refused to explain why the Sermon on the Mount (he lived in "Old Testament England") possessed no authority.
The last to suffer the penalties for treason executed in their plenitude of horror were the Scots in 1745. The last bloody execution was in 1820. Writers careless in statement or ignorant of history describe these penalties as "medieval"; they were later than that, and began in England along with many other cruel and inhuman practices when the Tudor Kings (and Queens) attempted to set up a royal despotism on the pattern of the Kings of France, though it did not stop with the Tudors but was continued (with temporary breaks) until George III, whose ambition was to be "a monarch in fact as well as in name." The Middle Ages, at least in England, were far more humane--between 1200 A.D. and 1500 A.D. England was probably the most civilized and humane country in the world except China.
For this, the great number of gilds and fraternities of craftsmen were responsible, because men who work, and who enjoy their work, always are more humane than men who prey upon others. Many examples of the oaths used by the Gilds and City Companies have been preserved; they are short, simple, direct, and the penalties assessed were of the same sort that have always been used by Freemasons: fines, reprimand, suspension, expulsion; w here the churches burned and the kings hanged, the craftsmen expelled--their Eden was the opposite of Adam's, who was blessed when in idleness but when expelled had to suffer the "curse" of labor, whereas the craftsmen's Eden was work, and idleness was a curse.
The two types of punishment, one for heresy and one for treason, became conventionalized, and at last were used merely as an emblem to represent the general idea of penalty.
The use of penalties in the form of some such emblem began in Speculative Lodges at least as early as 1700 (as the Old Catechisms show) but always were emblematic only, since the only penalties practiced were what they are now (except for fines, no longer permitted). It is easy to understand that if in an emblematic drama it was necessary to heighten the effect of the idea of penalty (penalty in general) the natural form would be that which had been in conventionalized and orthodox use for many years. The principal tenets, or beliefs demanded by Masonic law, are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth; to be faithless to them is for Masons a heresy The Ancient Landmarks are the law; to be treacherous to them is treason.
NOTE. AS to the form given to one set of the emblematic Pp's. it is significant that they correspond, as a key to a lock, and point to point to a drama, or tragedy; the two obviously are hemispheres of the same whole. When and where did the ritualistic Pps. originate? Perhaps if that question is ever answered by Masonic research it will give the date of the origin of a drama in which every Mason feels a keen, intellectual interest. For a remarkable book on the whole subject of penalties see A History of Penal Methods, by George Ives- Stanley Paul & Co.; London; 1914.
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