When one wanders in the old villages of England one is sometimes shown as a great curiosity the old stocks and pillories, where the village incorrigibles were wont to cool their heads and heels. Amongst other unpleasant things imported from the Old Country, Sydney also had its stocks and pillories. The first stocks were located in the old gaol in George Street North.
Rolf Boldrewood in some reminiscences of Old Sydney says that as a schoolboy he was greatly interested in the stocks which then stood at the corner of Elizabeth and King Streets. I have not been able to discover confirmatory evidence of this location, but I have no less than three eye-witnesses’ accounts of the stocks and pillory which stood at the end of the market building and later in Druitt Street.
The late Judge Dowling says that when he was a very small boy he saw in a pillory in the centre of the old markets a man who was pelted by the mob with all sorts of missiles. Another writer in 1828 says that the market was like a village fair, and: “at the further end fronting a public building surmounted with a dome and cupola, which was formerly a markethouse, and is now a police officer, there stood three several stocks of unequal height, and instead of being grown over or about with grass and brambles, as we have seen such instruments in England, they are in daily occupation. Here the poor and ignorant, who, contrary to the laws of physics, super-saturate their earthly part, are doomed to a penitential exhibition, unless they pay down five shillings for their ransom.”
Then we have the evidence of that entertaining J.B.M., whose reminiscences are a perfect mine of Old Sydney lore. He writes :—
“The market place was wholly of wood, and was embellished with a pillory where I have seen a culprit fast by the neck and wrists, and pelted with rotten eggs and vegetables. There were stocks there, also, and in Druitt Street. Captain Rossi, P.M., would say, `Ah, you bin here vun, two, three time. I vil give you vat you call vun gally-buster. I make you go in de stocks!’ “
The “Sydney Monitor,” of May 17th, 1837, announces that: “The public stocks have been removed in consequence of the building of the new church (the reference is to St. Andrew’s Cathedral) to the south end of York Street by the police office wall.”
The position of the stocks referred to in this notice has been preserved for us by a facetious notice in the “Gazette,” of August 17th, 1835, which says :—
“Stocks with comfortable accommodation for five couples of ladies and gentlemen who cannot pay the usual fee for indulging too freely at the shrine of Bacchus have been erected at the corner of Bathurst Street. They are accompanied by a whipping post and have a most singular appearance. They are quite an addition to the Scots Church, which is nearly completed.”
According to the late Dr. Houison, these stocks stood on the site of the present Deanery.