Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Common Scold Definition:

The now extinct offence of an angry woman who, by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours, disturbs the public peace.

Related Terms: Scolding, Scold

"One who, by the practice of frequent scolding, disturbs the neighborhood.

"The offence ... is a particular form of nuisance and was punishable by the ducking-stool at common law."

So John Bouvier defined common scold, the name given to those who were guilty of the offence of scolding.

The term common scold appears to be interchangeable with the term scold. Of scoldJowitt wrote:

"A troublesome and angry woman who, by brawling and wrangling amongst her neighbours, breaks the public peace, increases discord and becomes a public nuisance...."

William Blackstone, in Volume 4 of his Commentaries, page 168, notes that the offence of being a scold is derived from Roman law, which used the term communis rixatrix, suggesting that, contrary to English criminal law, the offence was reserved for women only. He also quotes his colleague's textbook Bishop New Criminal Law:

 

"... a common scold is a woman who, by the practice of frequent scolding, disturbs the repose of the neighborhood."

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