See caption
Stool of repentance and branksRedirected to scold's bridle., Holy Trinity Church, St. Andrews
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Buttock mail, or buttock hire,[1] was the colloquial term for a fine imposed by the ecclesiastical courts in Scotland as a punishment for sexual intercourse outside of wedlock. It could be paid to the church as an alternative to the public humiliation of being confined to the cucking stoolChair used as a punishment for those accused of offences such as drunkenness, sexual impropriety or dishonest trading., or stool of repentance, which was the usual punishment for fornication.[2]

Buttock was a Scottish term for a prostitute;[3] the word mail, in the sense of a tribute or rent, derives from the old Scandinavian word mál, meaning “speech, agreement”, or “payment” in Old English.[4]



Cresswell, Julia. “Blackmail [M16th].” Oxford Dictionary of Word Origins, Online, Oxford  University Press, 2021,
DSL. “Buttock, n. Sc. Usages.” Dictionaries of the Scots Language, Online, Scottish Language Dictionaries, 2004,
Grose, Francis. A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Edited by Eric Partridge, Beard Books, 1931.
Sibbald, J. “Chronicle of Scottish Poetry, from the 13th Century to the Union of the Crowns, with a Glossary.” The Edinburgh Review, or Critical Journal, Vol. III, Constable, Longman, 1804, p. 206.