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3 Va. L. Reg. n. s. 241 (1917-1918)
Right of Husband to Chastise Wife

handle is hein.journals/valrgn3 and id is 243 raw text is: Virginia Law Register
Vo,. 3, N. S.]       AUGUST, 1917.                  [No. 4
Under the early Roman law the marital power of the hus-
band was absolute, and he could chastise his wife even to the
point of killing her.' Bryce says that this absolute power was
confined to very primitive times;2 and another writer on Ro-
man law has doubted the power of the, husband to put the wife
to death.3  During the later period of the Roman law the hus-
band's power over his wife was much curtailed. Blackstone,
after speaking of the husband's right of chastisement under the
common law, says: The civil law gave the husband the same,
or a larger, authority over his wife. 4
By the old common law rule the husband had the right to in-
flict moderate personal chastisement on his wife,5 provided he
used, as some of the old authorities stated it, a switch -no larger
than his thumb.6  It is not easily seen how the thumb should
have been the standard of size for the instrument which the hus-
band might use. A light blow, or many light blows, with a
stick. larger than the thumb, might produce no injury; but a
switch half -the size might be so used as to produce death. The
1. Sohm Inst., § 93; 21 Cyc. 1143.
2. Bryce Studies Hist. and Jur., 787.
3. Hunter Rom. L. (3d ed.), 224.
4. 1 Blackstone Comm., 444, 445.
5. Bacon's Abr., title Assault and Battery, C., 373; 1 Hawk. P. C.
180; Moor, 874; Rex v'. Lister, 1 Stra. 478, 875; Matter of Cochran,
8 Dow[. P. C. 630, 4 Jur. 534. See also, Mathewson v. Mathewson
(Conn.), 63 Atil. 285, 5 L. R. A. (N. S.) 611, 615;.Brown v. Brown
(Conn.), 89 Ati. 889; James v. Commonwealth (Pa.), 12 Sergeant and
Rawles 220, 226.
6. See State v. Oliver, 70 N. C. 60; State v. Rhodes, 61 N. C. 453.

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