E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
is, punish first and try afterwards. Lydford, in the county of Devon, was a fortified town, in which was an ancient castle, where were held the courts of the Duchy of Cornwall. Offenders against the stannary laws were confined before trial in a dungeon so loathsome and dreary that it gave rise to the proverb referred to. The castle was destroyed by the Danes. (See CUPAR JUSTICE, COWPERS LAW.)