Formerly in English law, punishment inflicted on those accused of a felony who refused to enter a plea. By a statute of 1275, the peine was usually to imprison and starve the prisoner until he submitted; in 1406 pressing by heavy weights was added to this. In one of the few instances of its use in the American colonies, during the Salem witch trials, 80-year-old Giles Corey, who had decided not to stand trial rather than forfeit his family's goods, was pressed to death by interrogators. The practice was abolished in 1772.
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