39.8 MB (2.0 MB compressed)
2898 x 4800 pixels
24.6 x 40.6 cm ⏐ 9.7 x 16.0 in (300dpi)
NYPL / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NYPL / SCIENCE SOURCE / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
William Spiggot was an 18th century English highwayman. During his trial, he at first refused to plead and was sentenced to be pressed until he pleaded. Peine forte et dure (hard and forceful punishment) was a method of torture formerly used in the common law legal system, in which a defendant who refused to plead would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon his or her chest until a plea was entered, or the defendant died. Many defendants charged with capital offenses would refuse to plead in order to avoid forfeiture of property. If the defendant pleaded either guilty or not guilty and was executed, their heirs would inherit nothing. If they refused to plead their heirs would inherit their estate, even if they died in the process. Peine forte et dure was abolished in Great Britain in 1772, with the last known actual use of the practice having been in 1741.
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