"the tithing-men must take heed that she go both to school and to meeting"

In America’s Puritan colonies, tithing men were elected officers who occupied a similar position to constables but, whereas the latter ensured that citizens abided by the law, the former ensured that the moral and social order was adhered to. One tithing man was appointed to oversee ten townspeople. He would spy on his charges, ensure that they observed the Sabbath and upheld the colony's ideals, and report any wrongdoing to the minister at Sunday service. The official badge of the tithing man was a large stick with a fox-tail at one end: the heavy end was used to thump in the direction of anyone behaving in an unruly manner, while those caught drowsing off during church service had their faces tickled with the tail-end.