Giles Corey holds the distinction as the only person in the New World executed by pressing or peine forte et dure, the death he met as an accused witch during the Salem witchcraft hysteria. Corey achieved fame by calling out for “more weight” as men placed more stones and rocks on top of a board placed over his body. Pressing was considered one of the most severe forms of execution and had been abolished in the colony. Evidently, most Christian civility and common sense were cast aside during the year of 1692 in Salem and Ipswich.
The above image of a tithingman might imply that his job was a cross between a spiritual policeman and a royal fool. In fact, his position was one of the most important in Puritan New England and went beyond just policing unruly children.
The key responsibility for a tithingman was to keep order in church during the long services conducted in the meeting house or early church buildings. Most buildings had no heat or fireplace so winter services must have been a challenge. Stifling hot church services were no reason to keep the congregation at home sitting under the shade of an old oak tree.