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Colonial Cases

R. v. Dilley [1753]

prostitution - shaming penalty

Court of General Sessions, Boston

7 May 1753

Source: Halifax Gazette, 19 May 1753

[2] At an Adjournment of a Court of General Sessions of the Peace held here for the County of Suffolk on Monday last, Hannah Dilley, Wife of Thomas Dilley of Boston, Felt-maker, being presented "for that she, on the 21st of January last, and at divers Times before and afterwards, at her Husband's Dwelling House, situate in a certain Street in said Boston, called Cold Lane, held and kept, and often made Entertainments for Letchery and Fornication, and permitted Men, and other suspected Persons not of good Behaviour or Fame, to resort to her Husband's House, and carnally to lie with Whores, which the said Hannah then and there procured for them, to the great Detriment of all the People of our Sovereign Lord the King, there near dwelling, to the Destruction of the Manners, Health and Fortune of the Persons so there resorting, and evil Example of all others, against the Peace of our said Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity," appeared and pleaded Not Guilty; whereupon several Evidences were sworn on behalf of the King, and examined, after which the said Hannah moved that she might have Liberty to withdraw her plea of Not Guilty, and pleadGuilty, which the Court allow'd, and then the said Hannah pleaded Guilty; and the Court having consider'd of her Offence, Ordered, that the said Hannah Dilley should stand upon a Stool, at least five Feet in height, below the Court House in King Street, for the Space of one Hour, with a Paper fixed on her Breast, signifying her Crime, to be wrote in Capital Letters, and that she pay a Fine of Ten Pounds to the King, and find two Sureties to be bound in Ten Pounds each for her good Behaviour to the Sessions of this Court in July next, and pay Costs of Prosecution, standing committed until this Sentence be performed. (This notable Bawd, or Procuress, is said to be upwards of 60 years old, and has followed the Business for a long Time past; and as she is a great admirer of Company, therefore, that she may be decently attended, we give this publick Notice, that her Exaltation will be on Thursday next, between the Hours of Twelve and One o'clock.)

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School