Difference between revisions of "Rule of thumb"

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It is often said that the "rule of thumb" originally referred to a [[law]] that limited the maximum thickness of a [[stick]] with which it was permissible for a [[domestic violence|man to beat his wife]], but this has been discredited.<ref>[http://www.europrofem.org/contri/2_04_en/en-viol/28en_vio.htm 28env - J.Straton - North Carolina.Violence women]</ref>
 
[[U.K.|British]] common law before the reign of Charles II permitted a man to give his wife "moderate correction", but no 'rule of thumb' (whether called by this name or not) has ever been the law in England.<ref>[http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/307000.html Rule of thumb]</ref><ref>[http://www.straightdope.com/columns/000512.html Straight Dope]</ref> Such "moderate correction" specifically excluded [[beating]]s, only allowing the husband to confine a wife to the household.<ref>In 1675, [[Matthew Hale (jurist)|Sir Matthew Hale]] wrote, "The ''salva moderate castigatione'' in the Register is not meant of beating, but only of [[admonition]] and confinement in the house in case of her extravagance; which the court agreed, she being not as an apprentice." Quoted in Green, Nicholas St. John. (1879) [http://books.google.com/books?id=GRBFAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA288&dq=%22uniform+against+the+right+of+the+husband%22#v=onepage&q=%22uniform%20against%20the%20right%20of%20the%20husband%22&f=false Criminal law reports: being reports of cases determined in the federal and state courts of the United States, and in the courts of England, Ireland, Canada, etc. with notes, Volume 2] Hurd and Houghton.</ref>
 
Nonetheless, belief in the existence of a "rule of thumb" law to excuse spousal abuse can be traced as far back as the 18th century. In the [[United States]], legal decisions in Mississippi (1824) and North Carolina (1868 and 1874) make reference to—and reject—an unnamed "old doctrine" or "ancient law" by which a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no wider than his thumb.