Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last Whipping Post Sentence in Cecil County

Each week the reference staff answers a number of queries on a range of subjects, and this week the volunteers had to do a little extra digging to find the answer when a patron wanted to know when was the last time a whipping post sentence was handed down in Cecil County. In December 1940 the Cecil County Circuit Court ordered a 42-year old prisoner to serve 60 days in the jail and the sheriff was to give him ten lashes on the bare back at the whipping post as the sentence on a wife beating charge. A local newspaper, the Cecil Democrat, remarked that this was the first time in 46-years that a person was sentenced to the whipping post. The task of carrying out this assignment fell to Sheriff David Randolph. At one time this method was used as punishment for forgery, theft, Sabbath breaking, blasphemy and other crimes and before it was dropped in the 20th century it applied only to wife beaters. Neighboring Delaware kept its whipping post law on the books until 1972, though the last criminal in Delaware was whipped in 1952 for beating a woman.


  1. When was the law struck from the Cecil County code?

  2. During the 20th century the Maryland Legislature perioidically updated the criminal code, and removed the whipping post as a punishment for most crimes. But in 1939 when it passed a law concerning "assault on wife," it said a convicted person could receive up to 40 lashes or 1 year in jail or both. Thus it disappears at some point after that (I would guess not to many more years), but I've still not located a specific citation. I'll keep looking and post it, once I find the data.