Pillory. Graphite & Ink on Rough Fabriano Paper. 2021.

Between the mid 14th and 17th century there was a significant growth of corporal punishment in statute law. Stocks, used in medieval gaols, were ordered to be built in every town by the Statute of Labourers for the detention of runaway servants and labourers. In a statute of 1495 vagabonds and beggars were to be set in stocks for three days and nights with a diet of bread and water. The pillory was employed against fraudulent dicers and beggars in particular during the late Middle Ages, and in some cases papers were placed above their heads stating their offences.

Another form of punishment was whipping, which enjoyed wide currency because it was the most cost effective and efficient way to deal with vagabonds. To hold vagrants for trial, or send them to a house of correction, was expensive and troublesome, whereas a thrashing and a passport saw them off to be someone else's concern. However, rather than alleviate the vagrancy problem, it kept vagrants on the move.