Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

Reply To: OK, let's do this: The Beating and Issues of Consent

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#7340
Draper
Participant

“I do not know what the legal status for beating your wife was in the mid 1700’s in Scotland………Is it farfetched to believe that a husband beating his wife for endangering her life and the lives of others is unrealistic for the time? I’d argue no, it’s altogether likely.” CelticGlamazon

Absolutely legal, sadly. The 18th century head of a household was responsible for its discipline as he saw fit: wife, children, servants, employees etc. That’s not to say they didn’t recognise the difference between legitimate chastisement/punishment and abuse. In English Law (separate to Scots Law) they even specified the width of stick which could be used to hit your wife ie no thicker than the width of the man’s thumb – hence ‘the rule of thumb’. 18th century punishments tend to be physical (not much opportunity for counselling or discussion) and it wasn’t until after the Enlightenment these ideas started to be challenged.

Bad century to arrive in by time travel and I’d agree, his response doesn’t sound unrealistic for the time.

Scottish schools used corporal punishment until relatively recently. My primary school teachers in the early ‘80s still had rolled up belts in their desk drawers alongside the gold sticky stars. (Only remember it used once).