Duke of Exeter's Daughter - Encyclopedia




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DUKE OF EXETER'S DAUGHTER, a nickname applied to a i 5th-century instrument of torture resembling the rack. Blackstone says (Commentaries, ii. sec. 326): "The trial by rack is utterly unknown to the law of England, though once when the dukes of Exeter and Suffolk, and other ministers of Henry VI., had laid a design to introduce the civil (i.e. Roman) law into the kingdom as the rule of government, for a beginning thereof they erected a rack for torture, which was called in derision the duke of Exeter's daughter, and still remains in the Tower of London, where it was used as an engine of state, not of law, more than once in Queen Elizabeth's reign. But when, upon the assassination of Villiers, duke of Buckingham, by Felton, it was proposed in the privy council to put the assassin to the rack, in order to discover his accomplices, the judges being consulted, declared unanimously that no such proceeding was allowable by the laws of England."

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