Stigma in Early English Literature

Thomas Elyot, Dictionary (London: Thomae Bertheleti, 1538):

Stigma, matis, a marke made with fyre, or with a hotte yron. Sometyme it sygnyfieth infamy and reproche obiected openly.

William Bullein, Bulleins Bulwarke of Defence against all Sicknesse, Soarenesse, and Woundes (London: Thomas Marshe, 1579):

This herbe stamped, and applied vpon a wound or vlcer, doth heale the same, and so naturally, that it wyll suffer no scar or marke called Stigma to remayne. (42)

Robert Greene, Menaphon (London: Thomas Orwin for Sampson Clarke, 1589):

I reade that mightie Tamberlaine after his wife Zenocrate (the worlds faire eye) past out of the Theater of this mortall life, he chose stigmaticall trulls to please his humorous fancie. (F2)

William Shakespeare, 2 Henry VI (1590-91), in The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans and J. J. M. Tobin, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997):

  Y. Clif.  Foul stigmatic. (5.1.215)

William Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI (1591-92), in The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans and J. J. M. Tobin, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997):

  Q. Mar.  But thou art neither like thy sire nor dam,
But like a foul misshapen stigmatic,
Mark’d by the destinies to be avoided,
As venom toads, or lizards’ dreadful stings. (2.2.135-38)

William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors (1592-94), in The Riverside Shakespeare, ed. G. Blakemore Evans and J. J. M. Tobin, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997):

[Adr.]  He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind;
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind. (4.2.19-22)

John Harrington, The Metamorphosis of Aiax (London: Richard Field and Eliot's Court Press, 1596):

Circumcision? impressing a painefull stigma, or caracter in Gods peculiar people. (9)

Michael Drayton, “King Iohn to Matilda,” in Englands Heroicall Epistles (London: Iames Roberts for N. Ling, 1597):

Doest thou not thinke our Ancestors were wise,
That these religious Cells did first deuise?
As Hospitalls were for the sore and sick,
These for the crook'd, the hault, the stigmatick,
Least that theyr seede mark'd with  deformitie,
Should be a blemish to posteritie. (11)

Hee that's so like his Dam, her youngest Dick,
That foule, ilfauored, crookback'd stigmatick,
That like a carkase stolne out of a Tombe,
Came the wrong way out of his mothers wombe;
vvith teeth i'ns head, his passage to haue torne,
As though begot an age ere he was borne. (50)

John Marston, “Inamorato Curio,” in The Scourge of Villanie (London: James Roberts, 1598):

I am not saplesse, old, or rumatick,
No Hipponax mishapen stigmatick,

Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia (London: P. Short for Cuthbert Burbie, 1598):

Stigmaticall brandes are notes of a fugitiue

Robert Greene, Orpharion (London: J. Roberts for Edward White, 1599):

Women as the purest quintissence circolated from all other liuing things, are therefore the most beautifull and faire: yea in their own sex, beauty is the touchstone of vertue, and ye fairer a woman is, the ful|ler of good conditions: for such as nature hath either slipt ouer with negligence, or made in her melancholy, so that they are ill fauoured and deformed eyther in face or body: such I holde as a principle to be counted stigmaticall, as noted by nature to be of a bad constitution: then must we confesse that beauty is excellent, as the pride of nature: deuine, as fetcht from the Gods: glorious, as the delight of the eye: pleasing, as the content of the hart: and to be estéemed aboue all things, as the very couer and superfi|cies vnder which vertue lyes hid. (40)

The True and Honorable History of the Life of Sir John Oldcastle (London: V.S. for Thomas Pauier, 1600):

  Lee.  Is this the wolf whose thirsty throat did drink
My dear son's blood? art thou the snake
He cherished, yet with envious piercing sting
Assailed him mortally? foul stigmatic,
Thou venom of the country where thou livedst,
And pestilence of this: were it not that law
Stands ready to revenge thy cruelty,
Traitor to God, thy master, and to me,
These hands should be thy executioner.

Robert Yarington, Two Lamentable Tragedies (London: R. Read for Mathew Lawe, 1601):

  [Fall.]  he's a loathsome toade,
A one eyde Cyclops, a stigmaticke brat.

Jean Bodin, The Six Bookes of a Common-Weale (1576), trans. Richard Knolles (London: Adam Islip, 1606):

They marked their slaues in the face, which they did not in auntient time, except such of them as were villanous and sturdie knaues, who were thereof called Stigmatic; who at any time beeing manumised, could for all that neuer enioy the full fruit of their libertie or the priuelege of citisens. (38)

Thomas Heywood, A Woman Kilde with Kindnesse (London: William Iaggard, 1607):

  [Wend.]  Print in my face,
The most stigmaticke title of a villaine,
For hatching treason to so true a friend.

Thomas Heywood, “Of Witches,” in Gynaikeion (London: Adam Islip, 1624):

[Witches] are for the most part stigmaticall and ouglie, in so much, that it is growne into a common Adage, Deformis vt Saga, i. As deformed as a Witch. (399)