Review of Reviews

Whipping Posts

Ontario Records Show That One Was Built in the London District About 130 Years Ago

December 1 1934
Review of Reviews

Whipping Posts

Ontario Records Show That One Was Built in the London District About 130 Years Ago

December 1 1934

Whipping Posts

Ontario Records Show That One Was Built in the London District About 130 Years Ago

THE TWENTY-SECOND report of the Ontario Department of Public Records and Archives, by Colonel Alexander Fraser, LL.D., is just off the press. This year the Department has printed the Minutes of the General Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the London District from 1800 to 1818.

The London District in 1800 stretched from the township of Rainham in Haldimand County to Aldborough in Elgin, and from Lake Erie to the Georgian Bay. Thus the early municipal government of a very large part of Ontario is covered.

As the quarter sessions were a court, the Minutes contain accounts of grand jury presentments and trials before petty juries as well as the ordinary business of a district council.

One of the first duties of the London District Court was to erect movable stocks and a whipping post, and to pay for them out of the first collection of assessments for the district. In August, 1803, it is recorded, William Rice threw down the stocks and as a fit punishment was placed in them for half an hour.

The building of a gaol and courthouse early interested the court and in December, 1800, the specifications were given as follows “To be built with squared logs of white oak ten inches thick, on a foundation of black walnut logs, so deep in the ground that the lower floor of the building may be below the surface of the earth. The building is to measure thirty-four by twenty feet from outside to outside, and ten feet from floor to floor, and to be divided into three rooms of twelve feet by ten each, and the remainder to be an entry, to be lined as the outsides. The partition walls to be made with squared logs six inches thick. The whole building is to be weather-boarded with inch and quarter boards not to exceed ten inches in width, and to be lapped with feather-edge; and the whole building is to be lined with good twoinch white oak plank to be lapped, halved or grooved at each joint and spiked with such spikes as are usually made use of for such purposes.

“The building is to be covered, first with inch and quarter white oak plank, then with good shingles, the plank to be lapped with feather-edge. The logs of the floors are to be squared with oak ten inches thick, and laid close together side and side, and the floors over those logs to be two-inch white oak plank, to be lapped halved or grooved as aforesaid.

“There is to be a good brick chimney in each of two of the rooms with a three feet back to each, with the customary fleer (sic). The four doors, one outside and three inside, are to be made of two-inch white oak plank doubled and spiked in the usual manner; with a lock and key, to each door of the usual size and strength. There are to be a window in each of the two rooms, with iron grates to each window, to be more particularly described at the time of making the contract, and the whole to be compleated on or before the Second Teusday (sic) in October next.”

An interesting commentary on the times is revealed by the first cases tried by the court which wfere all for selling spirituous liquors without a license. The final entry in the report which has been here presented is a list of forty-two tavern keepers. This may explain the predominance of cases of assault and battery to be found in the Minutes.