Scavenger's daughter

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The Scavenger's daughter was a type of torture device invented in the reign of King Henry VIII of England. However, extant documents reveal that the device was rarely used.[citation needed]


Scavenger's Daughter (or Skevington's Daughter) was invented as an instrument of torture in the reign of Henry VIII by Sir Leonard Skevington, Lieutenant of the Tower of London,[1] a son of Sir William Skeffington, Lord Deputy of Ireland, and his first wife, Margaret Digby. It was an A-frame shaped metal rack to which the head was strapped to the top point of the A, the hands at the midpoint and the legs at the lower spread ends; swinging the head down and forcing the knees up in a sitting position compressing the body so as to force the blood from the nose and ears.

The Scavenger's Daughter was conceived as the perfect complement to the Duke of Exeter's Daughter (the rack) because it worked the opposite principle to the rack by compressing the body rather than stretching it.

The Scavenger's Daughter is rarely mentioned in the documents and the device itself was probably not much used. The best-documented use is that on the Irishman Thomas Miagh, charged with being in contact with rebels in Ireland. It may be in connection with Scavenger's Daughter that Miagh carved on the wall of the Beauchamp Tower in the Tower of London, "By torture straynge my truth was tried, yet of my libertie denied. 1581. Thomas Miagh."

Another victim of the Scavenger's Daughter was Thomas Cottam, an English Catholic priest and martyr from Lancashire who was executed during the reign of Elizabeth I.

It is also known as Skevington's gyves, as iron shackle, as the Stork (as in Italian cicogna) or as Spanish A-frame. Further it is known as Skevington's daughter, from which the more commonly known folk etymology using "Scavenger" is derived. There is a Scavenger's daughter on display in the Tower of London museum.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scavenger's Daughter" Retrieved 25 March 2011