“Termagant” is one of my new favorite words. From the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary “termagant” is a noun and defined as “an overbearing or nagging woman.” If you follow the Facebook page then you’ll know my children, if they knew of the word, would define me as a “termagant.” But let’s be honest, just about every woman could be defined as such at some point in their lives, such is our burden.
If you were accused of being a termagant up through the 19th century you faced the risk of being sentenced to the ducking stool, a very primitive way of dealing with us hysterical women. In the picture below you can see what a sentence by ducking meant and to be perfectly honest if I wasn’t a little crazy before I would certainly be after. The Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Inc. (HFFI) wrote a recent blog post about ducking stools and their history in Fredericksburg which is what led to our discovery that there is a loose connection between John Ferneyhough Jr. and termagants.
As we know, John Ferneyhough Jr. was a prominent carriage maker in the city of Fredericksburg. It turns out he was a handy guy because he was also very likely the last person commissioned by the city to construct a ducking stool. It’s very worth clicking on the HFFI blog post above because I am not one to plagiarize and they did a very nice job pulling up old articles relating to one termagant in particular, why it was deemed that women should not be nags (hint: it hurts the men’s feefees) and the method of using a ducking stool, plus evidence of John Ferneyhough Jr. making one.