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The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore by John R. Hutchinson

Part 5 out of 6

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It did not always do, however, to presume upon the loss of a
forefinger, particularly if it were missing from the left hand. Capt.
Barker, while he was regulating the press at Bristol, once had
occasion to send into Ilchester for a couple of brace of convicts who
had received the royal pardon on condition of their serving at sea.
Near Shepton Mallet, on the return tramp, his gangsmen fell in with a
party armed with sticks and knives, who "beat and cut them in a very
cruel manner." They succeeded, however, in taking the ringleader, one
Charles Biggen, and brought him in; but when Barker would have
discharged the fellow because his left forefinger was wanting, the
Admiralty brushed the customary rule aside and ordered him to be kept.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1528--Capt. Barker, 28 July
1803, and endorsement.]

The main considerations entering into the dispatch of pressed men to
the fleet, when at length their period of detention at headquarters
came to an end, were economy, speed and safety. Transport was
necessarily either by land or water, and in the case of seaport, river
or canal towns, both modes were of course available. Gangs operating
at a distance from the sea, or remote from a navigable river or canal,
were from their very situation obliged to send their catch to market
either wholly by land, or by land and water successively. Land
transport, though always healthier, and in many instances speedier and
cheaper than transport by water, was nevertheless much more risky.
Pressed men therefore preferred it. The risks--rescue and
desertion--were all in their favour. Hence, when they "offered
chearfully to walk up," or down, as the case might be, the seeming
magnanimity of the offer was never permitted to blind those in charge
of them to the need for a strong attendant guard. [Footnote: In the
spring of 1795 a body of Quota Men, some 130 strong, voluntarily
marched from Liverpool to London, a distance of 182 miles, instead of
travelling by coach as at first proposed. Though all had received the
bounty and squandered it in debauchery, not a man deserted; and in
their case the danger of rescue was of course absent. _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1511--Capt. Bowen, 21 April 1795.] The men would have
had to walk in any case, for transport by coach, though occasionally
sanctioned, was an event of rare occurrence. A number procured in
Berkshire were in 1756 forwarded to London "by the Reading machines,"
but this was an exceptional indulgence due to the state of their feet,
which were already "blistered with travelling."

Even with the precaution of a strong guard, there were parts of the
country through which it was highly imprudent, if not altogether
impracticable, to venture a party on foot. Of these the thirty-mile
stretch of road between Kilkenny and Waterford, the nearest seaport,
perhaps enjoyed the most unenviable reputation. No gang durst traverse
it; and no body of pressed men, and more particularly of pressed
Catholics, could ever have been conveyed even for so short a distance
through a country inhabited by a fanatical and strongly disaffected
people without courting certain bloodshed. The naval authorities in
consequence left Kilkenny severely alone. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1529--Capt. Bowen, 12 Oct. 1803.]

The sending of men overland from Appledore to Plymouth, a course
frequently adopted to avoid the circuitous sea-route, was attended
with similar risks. The hardy miners and quarrymen of the intervening
moorlands loved nothing so much as knocking the gangsman on the head.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 581--Admiral Berkeley, Report
on Rendezvous, 22 Sept. 1805.]

The attenuated neck of land between the Mersey and the Dee had an evil
reputation for affairs of this description. Men pressed at Chester,
and sent across the neck to the tenders or ships of war in the Mersey,
seldom reached their destination unless attended by an exceptionally
strong escort. The reason is briefly but graphically set forth by
Capt. Ayscough, who dispatched three such men from Chester, under
convoy of his entire gang, in 1780. "On the road thither," says he,
"about seven miles from hence, at a village called Sutton, they were
met by upwards of one Hundred Arm'd Seamen from Parkgate, belonging to
different privateers at Liverpool. An Affray ensued, and the three
Impress'd men were rescued by the Mobb, who Shot one of my Gang
through the Body and wounded two others." [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1446--Capt. Ayscough, 17 Nov. 1780.] Parkgate, it will
be recalled, was a notorious "nest of seamen." The alternative route
to Liverpool, by passage-boat down the Dee, was both safer and
cheaper. To send a pressed man that way, accompanied by two of the
gang, cost only twelve-and-six. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1.
580--Admiral Phillip, 14 Sept. 1804.]

Mr. Midshipman Goodave and party, convoying pressed men from Lymington
to Southampton, once met with an adventure in traversing the New
Forest which, notwithstanding its tragic sequel, is not without its
humorous side. They had left the little fishing village of Lepe some
miles behind, and were just getting well into the Forest, when a
cavalcade of mounted men, some thirty strong, all muffled in
greatgoats and armed to the teeth, unexpectedly emerged from the wood
and opened fire upon them. Believing it to be an attempt at rescue,
the gang closed in about their prisoners, but when one of these was
the first to fall, his arm shattered and an ear shot off, the
gangsmen, perceiving their mistake, broke and fled in all directions.
Not far, however. The smugglers, for such they were, quickly rounded
them up and proceeded, not to shoot them, as the would-be fugitives
anticipated, but to administer to them the "smugglers' oath." This
they did by forcing them on their knees and compelling them, at the
point of the pistol and with horrible execrations, to "wish their eyes
might drop out if they told their officers which way they, the
smugglers, were gone." Having extorted this unique pledge of secrecy
as to their movements, they rode away into the Forest, unaware that
Mr. Midshipman Goodave, snugly ensconced in the neighbouring ditch,
had seen and heard all that passed--a piece of discretion on his part
that later on brought at least one of the smugglers into distressing
contact with the law. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 7. 300--Law
Officers' Opinions, 1778-83, No. 18: Informations of Shepherd Goodave,
1 Oct. 1779.]

Just as the dangers of the sea sometimes rendered it safer to dispatch
pressed men from seaport towns by land--as at Exmouth, where the
entrance to the port was in certain weathers so hazardous as to bottle
all shipping up, or shut it out, for days together--so the dangers
peculiar to the land rendered it as often expedient to dispatch them
from inland towns by water. This was the case at Stourbridge. Handed
over to contractors responsible for their safe-keeping, the numerous
seamen taken by the gangs in that town and vicinity were delivered on
board the tenders in King Road, below Bristol--conveyed thither by
water, at a cost of half a guinea per head. This sum included
subsistence, which would appear to have been mainly by water also. To
Liverpool, the alternative port of delivery, carriage could only be
had by land, and the risks of land transit in that direction were so
great as to be considered insuperable, to say nothing of the cost.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1500--Letters of Capt. Beecher,

At ports such as Liverpool, Dublin and Hull, where His Majesty's ships
made frequent calls, the readiest means of disposing of pressed men
was of course to put them immediately on ship-board; but when no ship
was thus available, or when, though available, she was bound foreign
or on other prohibitive service, there was nothing for it, in the case
of rendezvous lying so far afield as to render land transport
impracticable, but to forward the harvest of the gangs by water. In
this way there grew up a system of sea transport that centred from
many distant and widely separated points of the kingdom upon those
great entrepôts for pressed men, the Hamoaze, Spithead and the Nore.

Now and then, for reasons of economy or expediency, men were shipped
to these destinations as "passengers" on colliers and merchant
vessels, their escort consisting of a petty officer and one or more
gangsmen, according to the number to be safeguarded. Occasionally they
had no escort at all, the masters being simply bound over to make good
all losses arising from any cause save death, capture by an enemy's
ship or the act of God. From King's Lynn to the Nore the rate per
head, by this means of transport, was 2 Pounds, 15s., including
victualling; from Hull, 2 Pounds 12s. 6d.; from Newcastle, 10s. 6d.
The lower rates for the longer runs are explained by the fact that,
shipping facilities being so much more numerous on the Humber and the
Tyne, competition reduced the cost of carriage in proportion to its
activity. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 579--Admiral Phillip,
3 and 11 Aug. 1801; Admiral Pringle, 2 April 1795.]

In spite of every precaution, such serious loss attended the shipping
of men in this manner as to force the Admiralty back upon its own
resources. Recourse was accordingly had, in the great majority of
cases, to that handy auxiliary of the fleet, the hired tender. Tenders
fell into two categories--cruising tenders, employed exclusively, or
almost exclusively, in pressing afloat after the manner described in
an earlier chapter, and tenders used for the double purpose of
"keeping" men pressed on land and of conveying them to the fleet when
their numbers grew to such proportions as to make a full and
consequently dangerous ship. In theory, "any old unmasted hulk, unfit
to send to sea, would answer to keep pressed men in." [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 579--Admiral Pringle, 2 April 1795.] In
practice, the contrary was the case. Fitness for sea, combined with
readiness to slip at short notice, was more essential than mere cubic
capacity, since transhipment was thus avoided and the pressed man
deprived of another chance of taking French leave.

One all-important consideration, in the case of tenders employed for
the storing and detention of pressed men prior to their dispatch to
the fleet, was that the vessel should be able to lie afloat at low
water; for if the fall of the tide left her high and dry, the risk of
desertion, as well as of attack from the shore, was enormously
increased. Whitehaven could make no use of man-storing tenders for
this reason; and at the important centre of King's Lynn, which was
really a receiving station for three counties, it was found "requisite
to have always a vessel below the Deeps to keep pressed men aboard,"
since their escape or rescue by way of the flats was in any anchorage
nearer the town a foregone conclusion. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1486--Capt. Baird, 27 Feb. 1755.]

On board the tenders the comfort and health of the pressed man were no
more studied than in the strong-rooms and prisons ashore. A part of
the hold was required to be roughly but substantially partitioned off
for his security, and on rare occasions this space was fitted with
bunks; but as the men usually arrived "all very bare of
necessaries"--except when pressed afloat, a case we are not now
considering--any provision for the slinging of hammocks, or the
spreading of bedding they did not possess, came to be looked upon as a
superfluous and uncalled-for proceeding. Even the press-room was a
rarity, save in tenders that had been long in the service. Down in the
hold of the vessel, whither the men were turned like so many sheep as
soon as they arrived on board, they perhaps found a rough platform of
deal planks provided for them to lie on, and from this they were at
liberty to extract such sorry comfort as they could during the weary
days and nights of their incarceration. Other conveniences they had
none. When this too was absent, as not infrequently happened, they
were reduced to the necessity of "laying about on the Cables and
Cask," suffering in consequence "more than can well be expressed."
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1439--Capt. A'Court, 22 April
1741; _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1497--Capt. Bover, 11 Feb. 1777, and
Captains' Letters, _passim_.] It is not too much to say that
transported convicts had better treatment.

Cooped up for weeks at a stretch in a space invariably crowded to
excess, deprived almost entirely of light, exercise and fresh air, and
poisoned with bad water and what Roderick Random so truthfully called
the "noisome stench of the place," it is hardly surprising that on
protracted voyages from such distant ports as Limerick or Leith the
men should have "fallen sick very fast." [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1444--Capt. Allen, 4 March 1771, and Captains' Letters,
_passim_.] Officers were, indeed, charged "to be very careful of
the healths of the seamen" entrusted to their keeping; yet in spite of
this most salutary regulation, so hopelessly bad were the conditions
under which the men were habitually carried, and so slight was the
effort made to ameliorate them, that few tenders reached their
destination without a more or less serious outbreak of fever,
small-pox or some other equally malignant distemper. Upon the fleet
the effect was appalling. Sickly tenders could not but make sickly

If the material atmosphere of the tender's hold was bad, its moral
atmosphere was unquestionably worse. Dark deeds were done here at
times, and no man "peached" upon his fellows. Out of this deplorable
state of things a remarkable legal proceeding once grew. Murder having
been committed in the night, and none coming forward to implicate the
offender, the coroner's jury, instead of returning their verdict
against some person or persons unknown, found the entire occupants of
the tender's hold, seventy-two in number, guilty of that crime. A
warrant was actually issued for their apprehension, though never
executed. To put the men on their trial was a useless step, since, in
the circumstances, they would have been most assuredly acquitted.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 7. 300--Law Officers' Opinions,
1778-83, No. 20.] Just as assuredly any informer in their midst would
have been murdered.

The scale of victualling on board the tenders was supposed to be the
same as on shore. "Full allowance daily" was the rule; and if the
copper proved too small to serve all at one boiling, there were to be
as many boilings as should be required to go round. Unhappily for the
pressed man, there was a weevil in his daily bread. While it was the
bounden duty of the master of the vessel to feed him properly, and of
the officers to see that he was properly fed, "officers and masters
generally understood each other too well in the pursery line."
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 579--Admiral M'Bride, 19 March
1795.] Rations were consequently short, boilings deficient, and though
the cabin went well content, the hold was the scene of bitter

Nor were these the only disabilities the pressed man laboured under.
His officers proved a sore trial to him. The Earl of Pembroke, Lord
High Admiral, foreseeing that this would be the case, directed that he
should be "used with all possible tenderness and humanity." The order
was little regarded. The callosity of Smollett's midshipman, who spat
in the pressed man's face when he dared to complain of his sufferings,
and roughly bade him die for aught he cared, was characteristic of the
service. Hence a later regulation, with grim irony, gave directions
for his burial. He was to be put out of the way, as soon as might be
after the fatal conditions prevailing on board His Majesty's tenders
had done their work, with as great a show of decency as could be
extracted from the sum of ten shillings.

Strictly speaking, it was not in the power of the tender's officers to
mitigate the hardships of the pressed man's lot to any appreciable
extent, let them be as humane as they might. For this the pressed man
himself was largely to blame. An ungrateful rogue, his hide was as
impervious to kindness as a duck's back to water. Supply him with
slops [Footnote: The regulations stipulated that slops should be
served out to all who needed them; but as their acceptance was held to
set up a contract between the recipient and the Crown, the pressed man
was not unnaturally averse from drawing upon such a source of supply
as long as any chance of escape remained to him.] wherewith to cover
his nakedness or shield him from the cold, and before the Sunday
muster came round the garments had vanished--not into thin air,
indeed, but in tobacco and rum, for which forbidden luxuries he
invariably bartered them with the bumboat women who had the run of the
vessel while she remained in harbour. Or allow him on deck to take the
air and such exercise as could be got there, and the moment your back
was turned he was away _sans congé_. Few of these runaways were
as considerate as that Scotch humorist, William Ramsay, who was
pressed at Leith for beating an informer and there put on board the
tender. Seizing the first opportunity of absconding, "Sir," he wrote
to the lieutenant in command, "I am so much attached to you for the
good usage I have received at your hands, that I cannot think of
venturing on board your ship again in the present state of affairs. I
therefore leave this letter at my father's to inform you that I intend
to slip out of the way." [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1.
1524.--Capt. Brenton, 20 Oct. 1800.]

When that clever adventuress, Moll Flanders, found herself booked for
transportation beyond the seas, her one desire, it will be recalled,
was "to come back before she went." So it was with the pressed man.
The idea of escape obsessed him--escape before he should be rated on
shipboard and sent away to heaven only knew what remote quarter of the
globe. It was for this reason that irons were so frequently added to
his comforts. "Safe bind, safe find" was the golden rule on board His
Majesty's tenders.

How difficult it was for him to carry his cherished design into
execution, and yet how easy, is brought home to us with surprising
force by the catastrophe that befell the _Tasker_ tender. On the
23rd of May 1755 the _Tasker_ sailed out of the Mersey with a
full cargo of pressed men designed for Spithead. She possessed no
press-room, and as the men for that reason had the run of the hold,
all hatches were securely battened down with the exception of the
maindeck scuttle, an opening so small as to admit of the passage of
but one man at a time. Her crew numbered thirty-eight, and elaborate
precautions were taken for the safe-keeping of her restless human
freight. So much is evident from the disposition of her guard, which
was as follows:--

_(a)_ At the open scuttle two sentries, armed with pistol and
cutlass. Orders, not to let too many men up at once.

_(b)_ On the forecastle two sentries, armed with musket and
bayonet. Orders, to fire on any pressed man who should attempt to swim

_(c)_ On the poop one sentry, similarly armed, and having similar

_(d)_ On the quarter-deck, at the entrance to the great cabin,
where the remaining arms were kept, one sentry, armed with cutlass and
pistol. Orders, to let no pressed man come upon the quarter-deck.

There were thus six armed sentinels stationed about the ship--ample to
have nipped in the bud any attempt to seize the vessel, but for two
serious errors of judgment on the part of the officer responsible for
their disposition. These were, first, the discretionary power vested
in the sentries at the scuttle; and, second, the inadequate guard, a
solitary man, set for the defence of the great cabin and the arms it
contained. Now let us see how these errors of judgment affected the

Either through stupidity, bribery or because they were rapidly making
an offing, the sentries at the scuttle, as the day wore on, admitted a
larger number of pressed men to the comparative freedom of the deck
than was consistent with prudence. The number eventually swelled to
fourteen--sturdy, determined fellows, the pick of the hold. One of
them, having a fiddle, struck up a merry tune, the rest fell to
dancing, the tender's crew who were off duty caught the infection and
joined in, while the officers stood looking on, tolerantly amused and
wholly unsuspicious of danger. Suddenly, just when the fun was at its
height, a splash was heard, a cry of "Man overboard!" ran from lip to
lip, and officers and crew rushed to the vessel's side. They were
there, gazing into the sea, for only a minute or two, but by the time
they turned their faces inboard again the fourteen determined men were
masters of the ship. In the brief disciplinary interval they had
overpowered the guard and looted the cabin of its store of arms. That
night they carried the tender into Redwharf Bay and there bade her
adieu. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 920--Admiral Sir Edward
Hawke, 3 June 1755, and enclosures.] To pursue them in so mountainous
a country would have been useless; to punish them, even had they been
retaken, impossible. As unrated men they were neither mutineers nor
deserters, [Footnote: By 4 & 5 Anne, cap. 6, pressed men could be
apprehended and tried for desertion by virtue of the Queen's shilling
having been forced upon them at the time they were pressed, but as the
use of that coin fell into abeyance, so the Act in question became
gradually a dead-letter. Hay, Murray, Lloyd, Pinfold and Jervis, Law
Officers of the Crown, giving an opinion on this important point in
1756, held that "pressed men are not subject to the Articles (of War)
until they are actually rated on board some of His Majesty's
ships."--_Admiralty Records_ 7. 299--Law Officers' Opinions,
1756-77, No. 3, Case 2.] and the seizure of the tender was at the
worst a bloodless crime in which no one was hurt save an obdurate
sentry, who was slashed over the head with a cutlass.

The boldness of its inception and the anticlimaxical nature of its
finish invest another exploit of this description with an interest all
its own. This was the cutting out of the _Union_ tender from the
river Tyne on the 12th April 1777. The commander, Lieut. Colville,
having that day gone on shore for the "benefit of the air," and young
Barker, the midshipman who was left in charge in his absence, having
surreptitiously followed suit, the pressed men and volunteers, to the
number of about forty, taking advantage of the opportunity thus
presented, rose and seized the vessel, loaded the great guns, and by
dint of threatening to sink any boat that should attempt to board them
kept all comers, including the commander himself, at bay till nine
o'clock in the evening. By that time night had fallen, so, with the
wind blowing strong off-shore and an ebb-tide running, they cut the
cables and stood out to sea. For three days nothing was heard of them,
and North Shields, the scene of the exploit and the home of most of
the runaways, was just on the point of giving the vessel up for lost
when news came that she was safe. Influenced by one Benjamin Lamb, a
pressed man of more than ordinary character, the rest had relinquished
their original purpose of either crossing over to Holland or running
the vessel ashore on some unfrequented part of the coast, and had
instead carried her into Scarborough Bay, doubtless hoping to land
there without interference and so make their way to Whitby or Hull. In
this design, however, they were partly frustrated, for, a force having
been hastily organised for their apprehension, they were waylaid as
they came ashore and retaken to the number of twenty-two, the rest
escaping. Lamb, discharged for his good offices in saving the tender,
was offered a boatswain's place if he would re-enter; but for poor
Colville the affair proved disastrous. Becoming demented, he attempted
to shoot himself and had to be superseded. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1497--Capt. Bover, 13 April 1777, and enclosures.]

All down through the century similar incidents, crowding thick and
fast one upon another, relieved the humdrum routine of the pressed
man's passage to the fleet, and either made his miserable life in a
measure worth living or brought it to a summary conclusion. Of minor
incidents, all tending to the same happy or unhappy end, there was no
lack. Now he sweltered beneath a sun so hot as to cause the pitch to
boil in the seams of the deck above his head; again, as when the
_Boneta_ sloop, conveying pressed men from Liverpool to the
Hamoaze in 1740, encountered "Bedds of two or three Acres bigg of Ice
& of five or Six foot thicknesse, which struck her with such force
'twas enough to drive her bows well out," he "almost perished" from
cold. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 2732--Capt. Young, 8 Feb.
1739-40.] To-day it was broad farce. He held his sides with laughter
to see the lieutenant of the tender he was in, mad with rage and
drink, chase the steward round and round the mainmast with a loaded
pistol, whilst the terrified hands, fearing for their lives, fled for
refuge to the coalhole, the roundtops and the shore. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 1498--Complaint of the Master and Company of
H. M. Hired Tender _Speedwell_, 21 Dec. 1778.] To-morrow it was tragedy.
Some "little dirty privateer" swooped down upon him, as in the case
of the _Admiral Spry_ tender from Waterford to Plymouth, [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 1500--Dickson, Surveyor of Customs at the Cove
of Cork, April 1780.] and consigned him to what he dreaded infinitely
more than any man-o'-war--a French prison; or contrary winds, swelling
into a sudden gale, drove him a helpless wreck on to some treacherous
coast, as they drove the _Rich Charlotte_ upon the Formby Sands in
1745, [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1440--Capt. Amherst, 4 Oct.
1745.] and there remorselessly drowned him.

Provided he escaped such untoward accidents as death or capture by the
enemy, sooner or later the pressed man arrived at the receiving
station. Here another ordeal awaited him, and here also he made his
last bid for freedom.

Taking the form of a final survey or regulating, the ordeal the
pressed man had now to face was no less thoroughgoing than its
precursor at the rendezvous had in all probability been superficial
and ineffective. Eyes saw deeper here, wits were sharper, and in this
lay at once the pressed man's bane and salvation. For if genuinely
unfit, the fact was speedily demonstrated; whereas if merely shamming,
discovery overtook him with a certainty that wrote "finis" to his last
hope. Nevertheless, for this ordeal, as for his earlier regulating at
the rendezvous, the sailor who knew his book prepared himself with
exacting care during the tedium of his voyage.

No sooner was he mustered for survey, then, than the most
extraordinary, impudent and in many instances transparent impostures
were sprung upon his examiners. Deafness prevailed to an alarming
extent, dumbness was by no means unknown. Men who fought desperately
when the gang took them, or who played cards with great assiduity in
the tender's hold, developed sudden paralysis of the arms. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 1464--Capt. Bloyes, Jan. 1702-3; _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1470--Capt. Bennett, 26 Sept. 1711. An extraordinary
instance of this form of malingering is cited in the "Naval
Sketch-Book," 1826.] Legs which had been soundness itself at
the rendezvous were now a putrefying mass of sores. The itch broke out
again, virulent and from all accounts incurable. Fits returned with
redoubled frequency and violence, the sane became demented or idiotic,
and the most obviously British, losing the use of their mother tongue,
swore with many gesticulatory _sacrés_ that they had no English,
as indeed they had none for naval purposes. Looking at the miserable,
disease-ridden crew, the uninitiated spectator was moved to tears of
pity. Not so the naval officer. In France, when a prisoner of war,
learning French there without a master, he had heard a saying that he
now recalled to some purpose: _Vin de grain est plus doux que n'est
pas vin de presse_--"Willing duties are sweeter than those that are
extorted." The punning allusion to the press had tickled his fancy and
fixed the significant truism in his memory. From it he now took his
cue and proceeded to man his ship.

So at length the pressed man, in spite of all his ruses and
protestations, was rated and absorbed into that vast agglomeration of
men and ships known as the fleet. Here he underwent a speedy
metamorphosis. It was not that he lost his individuality and became a
mere unit amongst thousands. Quite the contrary. Friends, creditors or
next-of-kin, concocting petitions on his behalf, set forth in
heart-rending terms the many disabilities he suffered from, together
with many he did not, and prayed, with a fervour often reaching no
deeper than their pockets, that he might be restored without delay to
his bereaved and destitute family. Across the bottom right-hand corner
of these petitions, conveniently upturned for that purpose, the
Admiralty scrawled its initial order: "Let his case be stated." The
immediate effect of this expenditure of Admiralty ink was magical. It
promoted the subject of the petition from the ranks, so to speak, and
raised him to the dignity of a "State the Case Man."

He now became a person of consequence. The kindliest inquiries were
made after his health. The state of his eyes, the state of his limbs,
the state of his digestion were all stated with the utmost minuteness
and prolixity. Reams of gilt-edged paper were squandered upon him; and
by the time his case had been duly stated, restated, considered,
reconsidered and finally decided, the poor fellow had perhaps voyaged
round the world or by some mischance gone to the next.

In the matter of exacting their pound of flesh the Lords Commissioners
were veritable Shylocks. Neither supplications nor tears had power to
move them, and though they sometimes relented, it was invariably for
reasons of policy and in the best interests of the service. Men
clearly shown to be protected they released. They could not go back
upon their word unless some lucky quibble rendered it possible to
traverse the obligation with honour. Unprotected subjects who were
clearly unfit to eat the king's victuals they discharged--for

[Illustration: The Press Gang, or English Liberty Displayed.]

The principle underlying their Lordships' gracious acceptance of
substitutes for pressed men was beautifully simple. If as a pressed
man you were fit to serve, but unwilling, you were worth at least two
able-bodied men; if you were unfit, and hence unable to serve, you
were worth at least one. This simple rule proved a source of great
encouragement to the gangs, for however bad a man might be he was
always worth a better.

The extortions to which the Lords Commissioners lent themselves in
this connection--three, and, as in the case of Joseph Sanders of
Bristol, [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1534--Capt. Barker, 4
Jan. 1805, and endorsement.] even four able-bodied men being exacted
as substitutes--could only be termed iniquitous did we not know the
duplicity, roguery and deep cunning with which they had to cope. Upon
the poor, indeed, the practice entailed great hardship, particularly
when the home had to be sacrificed in order to obtain the discharge of
the bread-winner who had been instrumental in getting it together; but
to the unscrupulous crimp and the shady attorney the sailor's
misfortune brought only gain. Buying up "raw boys," or Irishmen who
"came over for reasons they did not wish known"--rascally persons who
could be had for a song--they substituted these for seasoned men who
had been pressed, and immediately, having got the latter in their
power, turned them over to merchant ships at a handsome profit. At
Hull, on the other hand, substitutes were sought in open market. The
bell-man there cried a reward for men to go in that capacity.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1439--George Crowle, Esq., M.P.
for Hull, 28 Dec. 1739.]

Even when the pressed man had procured his substitutes and obtained
his coveted discharge, his liberty was far from assured. In theory
exempt from the press for a period of at least twelve months, he was
in reality not only liable to be re-pressed at any moment, but to be
subjected to that process as often as he chose to free himself and the
gang to take him. A Liverpool youth named William Crick a lad with
expectations to the amount of "near 4000 Pounds," was in this way
pressed and discharged by substitute three times in quick succession.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 579--Rear-Admiral Child, 8 Aug.
1799.] Intending substitutes themselves not infrequently suffered the
same fate ere they could carry out their intention. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 1439--Lieut. Leaver, 5 Jan. 1739-40, and
numerous instances.]

The discharging of a pressed man whose petition finally succeeded did
not always prove to be the eminently simple matter it would seem. Time
and tide waited for no man, least of all for the man who had the
misfortune to be pressed, and in the interval between his appeal and
the order for his release his ship, as already hinted, had perhaps put
half the circumference of the globe between him and home; or when the
crucial moment arrived, and he was summoned before his commander to
learn the gratifying Admiralty decision, he made his salute in batches
of two, three or even four men, each of whom protested vehemently that
he was the original and only person to whom the order applied. An
amusing attempt at "coming Cripplegate" in this manner occurred on
board the _Lennox_ in 1711. A woman, who gave her name as Alice
Williams, having petitioned for the release of her "brother," one John
Williams, a pressed man then on board that ship, succeeded in her
petition, and orders were sent down to the commander, Capt. Bennett,
to give the man his discharge. He proceeded to do so, but to his
amazement discovered, first, that he had no less than four John
Williamses on board, all pressed men; second, that while each of the
four claimed to be the man in question, three of the number had no
sister, while the fourth confessed to one whose name was not Alice but
"Percilly"; and, after long and patient investigation, third, that one
of them had a wife named Alice, who, he being a foreigner domiciled by
marriage, had "tould him she would gett him cleare" should he chance
to fall into the hands of the press-gang. In this she failed, for he
was kept. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1470--Capt. Bennett,
2 Dec. 1711.]

Of the pressed man's smiling arrest for debts which he did not owe,
and of his jocular seizure by sheriffs armed with writs of Habeas
Corpus, the annals of his incorporation in the fleet furnish many
instances. Arrest for fictitious debt was specially common. In every
seaport town attorneys were to be found who made it their regular
practice. Particularly was this true of Bristol. Good seamen were
rarely pressed there for whom writs were not immediately issued on the
score of debts of which they had never heard. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 579--Admiral Philip, 5 Dec. 1801.] To warrant such
arrest the debt had to exceed twenty pounds, and service, when the
pressed man was already on shipboard, was by the hands of the Water

The writ of Habeas Corpus was, in effect, the only legal check it was
possible to oppose to the impudent pretensions and high-handed
proceedings of the gang. While H.M.S. _Amaranth_ lay in dock in
1804 and her company were temporarily quartered on a hulk in Long
Reach, two sheriff's officers, accompanied by a man named Cumberland,
a tailor of Deptford, boarded the latter and served a writ on a seaman
for debt. The first lieutenant, who was in charge at the time, refused
to let the man go, saying he would first send to his captain, then at
the dock, for orders, which he accordingly did. The intruders
thereupon went over the side, Cumberland "speaking very insultingly."
Just as the messenger returned with the captain's answer, however,
they again put in an appearance, and the lieutenant hailed them and
bade them come aboard. Cumberland complied. "I have orders from my
captain," said the lieutenant, stepping up to him, "to press you." He
did so, and had it not been that a writ of Habeas Corpus was
immediately sworn out, the Deptford tailor would most certainly have
exchanged his needle for a marlinespike. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1532--Lieut. Collett, 13 Feb. 1804.]

Provocative as such redemptive measures were, and designedly so, they
were as a rule allowed to pass unchallenged. The Lords Commissioners
regretted the loss of the men, but thought "perhaps it would be as
well to let them go." [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 7. 302--Law
Officers' Opinions, 1783-95, No. 24.] For this complacent attitude on
the part of his captors the pressed man had reason to hold the Law
Officers of the Crown in grateful remembrance. As early as 1755 they
gave it as their opinion--too little heeded--that to bring any matter
connected with pressing to judicial trial would be "very imprudent."
Later, with the lesson of twenty-two years' hard pressing before their
eyes, they went still further, for they then advised that a subject so
contentious, not to say so ill-defined in law, should be kept, if not
altogether, at least as much as possible out of court. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 7. 298--Law Officers' Opinions, 1733-56, No.
99; _Admiralty Records_ 7. 299--Law Officers' Opinions, 1756-77,
No. 70.]



Not until the year 1833 did belated Nemesis overtake the press-gang.
It died the unmourned victim of its own enormities, and the manner of
its passing forms the by no means least interesting chapter in its
extraordinary career.

Summarising the causes, direct and indirect, which led to the final
scrapping of an engine that had been mainly instrumental in manning
the fleet for a hundred years and more, and without which, whatever
its imperfections, that fleet could in all human probability never
have been manned at all, we find them to be substantially these:--

_(a)_ The demoralising effects of long-continued, violent and
indiscriminate pressing upon the Fleet;

_(b)_ Its injurious and exasperating effects upon Trade;

_(c)_ Its antagonising effect upon the Nation; and

_(d)_ Its enormous cost as compared with recruiting by the
good-will of the People.

Frederick the Great, it is related, being in one of his grim humours
after the dearly bought victory of Czaslaw, invited the neighbouring
peasantry to come and share the spoil of the carcases on the field of
battle. They responded in great numbers; whereupon he, surrounding
them, pressed three hundred of the most promising and "cloathed them
immediately from the dead." [Footnote: _State Papers Foreign,
Germany,_ vol. cccxl.--Robinson to Hyndford, 31 May 1742.] In this
way, Ezekiel-like, he retrieved his losses; but to the regiments so
completed the addition of these resurrection recruits proved
demoralising to a degree, notwithstanding the Draconic nature of the
Prussian discipline. In like manner the discipline used in the British
fleet, while not less drastic, failed conspicuously to counteract the
dry-rot introduced and fostered by the press-gang. In its efforts to
maintain the Navy, indeed, that agency came near to proving its ruin.

On the most lenient survey of the recruits it furnished, it cannot be
denied that they were in the aggregate a desperately poor lot,
unfitted both physically and morally for the tremendous task of
protecting an island people from the attacks of powerful sea-going
rivals. How bad they were, the epithets spontaneously applied to them
by the outraged commanders upon whom they were foisted abundantly
prove. Witness the following, taken at random from naval captains'
letters extending over a hundred years:--


"Sorry poor creatures that don't earn half the victuals they eat."

"Sad, thievish creatures."

"Not a rag left but what was of such a nature as had to be destroyed."

"150 on board, the greatest part of them sorry fellows."

"Poor ragged souls, and very small."

"Miserable poor creatures, not a seaman amongst them, and the fleet in
the same condition."

"Unfit for service, and a nuisance to the ship."

"Never so ill-manned a ship since I have been at sea. The worst set I
ever saw."

"Twenty-six poor souls, but three of them seamen. Ragged and half

"Landsmen, boys, incurables and cripples. Sad wretches great part of
them are."

"More fit for an hospital than the sea."

"All the ragg-tagg that can be picked up."

In this last phrase, "All the rag-tag that can be picked up," we have
the key to the situation; for though orders to press "no aged,
diseased or infirm persons, nor boys," were sufficiently explicit, yet
in order to swell the returns, and to appease in some degree the
fleet's insatiable greed for men, the gangs raked in recruits with a
lack of discrimination that for the better part of a century made that
fleet the most gigantic collection of human freaks and derelicts under
the sun.

Billingsley, commander of the _Ferme_, receiving seventy pressed
men to complete his complement in 1708, discovers to his chagrin that
thirteen are lame in the legs, five lame in the hands, and three
almost blind. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1469--Capt.
Billingsley, 5 May 1708.] Latham, commanding the _Bristol_, on
the eve of sailing for the West Indies can muster only eighteen seamen
amongst sixty-eight pressed men that day put on board of him. As for
the rest, they are either sick, or too old or too young to be of
service--"ragged wretches, bad of the itch, who have not the least
pretensions to eat His Majesty's bread." Forty of the number had to be
put ashore. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 161--Admiral
Watson, 26 Feb. 1754.] Admiral Mostyn, boarding his flagship, the
_Monarch_, "never in his life saw such a crew," though the
_Monarch_ had an already sufficiently evil reputation in that
respect, insomuch that whenever a scarecrow man-o'-war's man was seen
ashore the derisive cry instantly went up: "There goes a
_Monarch_!" So hopelessly bad was the company in this instance,
it was found impossible to carry the ship to sea. "I don't know where
they come from," observes the Admiral, hot with indignation, "but
whoever was the officer who received them, he ought to be ashamed, for
I never saw such except in the condemned hole at Newgate. I was three
hours and a half mustering this scabby crew, and I should have
imagined that the Scum of the Earth had been picked up for this ship."
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 480--Admiral Mostyn, 1 and 6
April 1755.] The vigorous protest prepares us for what Capt. Baird
found on board the _Duke_ a few years later. The pressed men
there exhibited such qualifications for sea duty as "fractured
thigh-bone, idiocy, strained back and sickly, a discharged soldier,
gout and sixty years old, rupture, deaf and foolish, fits, lame,
rheumatic and incontinence of urine." [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1490--Capt. Baird, 22 May 1759.]

That most reprehensible practice, the pressing of cripples for naval
purposes, would appear to have had its origin in the unauthorised
extension of an order issued by the Lord High Admiral, in 1704, to the
effect that in the appointment of cooks to the Navy the Board should
give preference to persons so afflicted. For the pressing of boys
there existed even less warrant. Yet the practice was common, so much
so that when, during the great famine of 1800, large numbers of youths
flocked into Poole in search of the bread they could not obtain in the
country, the gangs waylaid them and reaped a rich harvest. Two hundred
was the toll on this occasion. As all were in a "very starving,
ragged, filthy condition," the gangsmen stripped them, washed them
thoroughly in the sea, clad them in second-hand clothing from the
quay-side shops, and giving each one a knife, a spoon, a comb and a
bit of soap, sent them on board the tenders contented and happy.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 579--Capt. Boyle, 2 June 1801.]
These lads were of course a cut above the "scum of the earth" so
vigorously denounced by Admiral Mostyn. Beginning their career as
powder-monkeys, a few years' licking into shape transformed them, as a
rule, into splendid fighting material.

The utter incapacity of the human refuse dumped into the fleet is
justly stigmatised by one indignant commander, himself a patient
long-sufferer in that respect, as a "scandalous abuse of the service."
Six of these poor wretches had not the strength of one man. They could
not be got upon deck in the night, or if by dint of the rope's-end
they were at length routed out of their hammocks, they immediately
developed the worst symptoms of the "waister"--seasickness and fear of
that which is high. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1471--Capt.
Billop, 26 Oct. 1712.] Bruce, encountering dirty weather on the Irish
coast, when in command of the _Hawke_, out of thirty-two pressed
men "could not get above seven to go upon a yard to reef his courses,"
but was obliged to order his warrant officers and master aloft on that
duty. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1477--Capt. Bruce, 6 Oct.
1741.] Belitha, of the _Scipio_, had but one man aboard him, out
of a crew of forty-one, who was competent to stand his trick at the
wheel; [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1482--Capt. Belitha, 15
July 1746.] Bethell, of the _Phoenix_, had many who had "never
seen a gun fired in their lives"; [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_
1. 1490--Capt. Bethell, 21 Aug. 1759.] and Adams, of the
_Bird-in-hand_, learnt the fallacy of the assertion that that
_rara avis_ is worth two in the bush. Mustered for drill in
small-arms, his men "knew no more how to handle them than a child."
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1440--Capt. Adams, 7 Oct.
1744.] For all their knowledge of that useful exercise they might have
been Sea-Fencibles.

Yet while ships were again and again prevented from putting to sea
because, though their complements were numerically complete, they had
only one or no seaman on board, and hence were unable to get their
anchors or make sail; [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1478
--Capt. Boys, 14 April 1742; _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1512--Capt.
Bayly, 21 July 1796, and Captains' Letters, _passim_.] while
Bennett, of the _Lennox_, when applied to by the masters of
eight outward-bound East-India ships for the loan of two hundred
and fifty men to enable them to engage the French privateers by
whom they were held up in the river of Shannon, dared not lend
a single hand lest the pressed men, who formed the greater
part of his crew, should rise and run away with the ship; [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 1499--Capt. Bennett, 22 Sept. 1779.]
Ambrose, of the _Rupert_, cruising off Cape Machichaco with a
crew of "miserable poor wretches" whom he feared could be of "no
manner of use or service" to him, after a short but sharp engagement
of only an hour's duration captured, with the loss of but a single
man, the largest privateer sailing out of San Sebastian--the _Duke
of Vandome_, of twenty-six carriage guns and two hundred and two
men, of whom twenty-nine were killed; [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1439--Capt. Ambrose, 7 July and 26 Sept. 1741.] and
Capt. Amherst, encountering a heavy gale in Barnstable Pool, off
Appledore, would have lost his ship, the low-waisted, over-masted
_Mortar_ sloop, had it not been for the nine men he was so lucky
as to impress shortly before the gale. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 1440--Capt. Amherst, 12 Dec. 1744.] Anson regarded
pressed men with suspicion. When he sailed on his famous voyage round
the world his ships contained only sixty-seven; but with his
complement of five hundred reduced by sickness to two hundred and one,
he was glad to add forty of those undesirables to their number out of
the India-men at Wampoo. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1.
1439--Capt. Anson, 18 Sept. 1740, and 7 Dec. 1742.] These, however,
were seamen such as the gangs did not often pick up in England, where,
as we have seen, the able seaman who was not fully protected avoided
the press as he would a lee shore.

In addition to the sweepings of the roads and slums, there were in His
Majesty's ships many who trod the decks "wide betwixt the legs, as if
they had the gyves on." Peculiar to the seafaring man, the tailor and
the huckstering Jew, the gait of these individuals, who belonged
mostly to the sailor class, was strongly accentuated by an
adventitious circumstance having no necessary connection with
Israelitish descent, the sartorial board or the rolling deep. They
were in fact convicts who had but recently shed their irons, and who
walked wide from force of habit. Reasons of policy rather than of
mercy explained their presence in the fleet. The prisons of the
country, numerous and insanitary though they were, could neither hold
them all nor kill them; America would have no more of them; and penal
settlements, those later garden cities of a harassed government, were
as yet undreamt of. In these circumstances reprieved and pardoned
convicts were bestowed in about equal proportions, according to their
calling and election, upon the army and the navy.

The practice was one of very respectable antiquity and antecedents. By
a certain provision of the Feudal System a freeman who had committed a
felony, or become hopelessly involved in debt, might purge himself of
either by becoming a serf. So, at a later date, persons in the like
predicament were permitted to exchange their fetters, whether of debt
or iron, for the dear privilege of "spilling every drop of blood in
their bodies" [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 5125--Petition of
the Convicts on board the _Stanislaus_ hulk, Woolwich, 18 May
1797.] on behalf of the sovereign whose clemency they enjoyed. Broken
on the wheel of naval discipline, they "did very well in deep water."
Nearer land they were given, like the jailbirds they were, to "hopping
the twig." [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 2733--Capt. Young,
21 March 1776.]

The insolvent debtor, who in the majority of cases had studied his
pleasures more than his constitution, was perhaps an even less
desirable recruit than his cousin the emancipated convict. In his
letters to the Navy Board, Capt. Aston, R.N., relates how, immediately
after the passing of the later Act [Footnote: 4 & 5 Anne, cap. 6.] for
the freeing of such persons from their financial fetters, he "gave
constant attendance for almost two years at the sittings of the Courts
of Sessions in London and Surrey," lying in wait there for such
debtors as should choose the sea. From the Queen's Bench Prison, the
Clink, Marshalsea, Borough Compter, Poultry Compter, Wood Street
Compter, Ludgate Prison and the Fleet, he obtained in that time a
total of one hundred and thirty-two, to whom in every case the
prest-shilling was paid. They were dear at the price. Bankrupt in
pocket, stamina and health, they cumbered the ships to the despair of
commanders and were never so welcome as when they ran away. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 1436--Letters of Capt. Aston, 1704-5.]

The responsibility for jail-bird recruiting did not of course rest
with the gangs. They saw the shady crew safe on board ship, that was
all. Yet the odium of the thing was theirs. For not only did
association with criminals lower the standard of pressing as the gangs
practised it, it heightened the general disrepute in which they were
held. For an institution whose hold upon the affections of the people
was at the best positively negative, this was a serious matter. Every
convict whom the gang safeguarded consequently drove another nail in
the coffin preparing for it. The first and most lasting effect of the
wholesale pumping of sewage into the fleet was to taint the ships with
a taint far more deadly than mere ineptitude. A spirit of ominous
restlessness prevailed. Slackness was everywhere observable, coupled
with incipient insubordination which no discipline, however severe,
could eradicate or correct. At critical moments the men could with
difficulty be held to their duty. To hold them to quarters in '97,
when engaging the enemy off Brest, the rattan and the rope's-end had
to be unsparingly used. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1.
5125--Petition of the Company of H.M.S. _Nymph_, 1797.] In no
circumstances were they to be trusted. Given the slightest opening,
they "ran" like water from a sieve. To counteract these dangerous
tendencies the Marines were instituted. Drafted into the ships in
thousands, they checked in a measure the surface symptoms of
disaffection, but left the disease itself untouched. The fact was
generally recognised, and it was no uncommon circumstance, when the
number of pressed men present in a ship was large in proportion to the
unpressed element, for both officers and marines to walk the deck day
and night armed, fearful lest worse things should come upon them.
[Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 1499--Capt. Bennett, 22 Sept.
1799, and Captains' Letters, _passim_.] What they anticipated was
the mutiny of individual crews. But a greater calamity than this was
in store for them.

In the wholesale mutinies at Spithead and the Nore the blow fell with
appalling suddenness, notwithstanding the fact that in one form or
another it had been long foreseen. Fifty-five years had elapsed since
Vernon, scenting danger from the existing mode of manning the fleet,
had first sounded the alarm. He dreaded, he told the Lords
Commissioners in so many words, the consequences that must sooner or
later ensue from adherence to the press. [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 578--Vice-Admiral Vernon, 27 Jan. 1742-3.] Though the
utterance of one gifted with singularly clear prevision, the warning
passed unheeded. Had it been made public, it would doubtless have met
with the derision with which the voice of the national prophet is
always hailed. Veiled as it was in service privacy, it moved their
Lordships to neither comment nor action. Action, indeed, was out of
the question. The Commissioners were helpless in the grip of a system
from which, so far as human sagacity could then perceive, there was no
way of escape. Let its issue be what it might, they could no more
replace or reconstruct it than they could build ships of tinsel.

Other warnings were not wanting. For some years before the
catastrophic happenings of '97 there flowed in upon the Admiralty a
thin but steady stream of petitions from the seamen of the fleet, each
of them a rude echo of Vernon's sapient warning. To these, coming as
they did from an unconsidered source, little if any significance was
attached. Beyond the most perfunctory inquiry, in no case to be made
public, they received scant attention. The sailor, it was thought,
must have his grievances if he would be happy; and petitions were the
recognised line for him to air them on. They were accordingly
relegated to that limbo of distasteful and quickly forgotten things,
their Lordships' pigeon-holes.

Yet there was amongst these documents at least one which should have
given the Heads of the Navy pause for serious thought. It was
the petition of the seamen of H.M.S. _Shannon_, [Footnote: _Admiralty
Records_ 1. 5125--Petition of the Ship's Company of the _Shannon_, 16
June 1796.] in which there was conveyed a threat that afterwards, when
the mutiny at the Nore was at its height, under the leadership of a
pressed man whose coadjutors were mainly pressed men, came within an
ace of resolving itself in action. That threat concerned the desperate
expedient of carrying the revolted ships into an enemy's port, and of
there delivering them up. Had this been done--and only the Providence
that watches over the destinies of nations prevented it--the act would
have brought England to her knees.

At a time like this, when England's worst enemies were emphatically
the press-gangs which manned her fleet with the riff-raff of the
nation and thus made national disaster not only possible but hourly
imminent, the "old stander" and the volunteer were to her Navy what
salt is to the sea, its perpetual salvation. Such men inculcated an
example, created an _esprit de corps_, that infected even the
vagrant and the jail-bird, to say nothing of the better-class seaman,
taken mainly by gangs operating on the water, who was often content,
when brought into contact with loyal men, to settle down and do his
best for king and country. Amongst the pressed men, again, desertion
and death made for the survival of the fittest, and in this residuum
there was not wanting a certain savour. Subdued and quickened by
man-o'-war discipline, they developed a dogged resolution, a
super-capacity not altogether incompatible with degeneracy; and to
crown all, the men who officered the resolute if disreputable crew
were men in whose blood the salt of centuries tingled, men unrivalled
for sea-sagacity, initiative and pluck. If they could not uphold the
honour of the flag with the pressed man's unqualified aid, they did
what was immeasurably greater. They upheld it in spite of him.

Upon the trade of the nation the injury inflicted by the press-gang is
rightly summed up in littles. Every able seaman, every callow
apprentice taken out of or forcibly detained from a merchant vessel
was, _ipso facto,_ a minute yet irretrievably substantial loss to
commerce of one kind or another. Trade, it is true, did not succumb in
consequence. Possessed of marvellous recuperative powers, she did not
even languish to any perceptible degree. Nevertheless, the detriment
was there, a steadily cumulative factor, and at the end of any given
period of pressing the commerce of the nation, emasculated by these
continuous if infinitesimal abstractions from its vitality, was
substantially less in bulk, substantially less in pounds sterling,
than if it had been allowed to run its course unhindered.

British in name, but Teutonic in its resentments, trade came to regard
these continual "pin-pricks" as an intolerable nuisance. It was not so
much the loss that aroused her anger as the constant irritation she
was subjected to. This she keenly resented, and the stream of her
resentment, joining forces with its confluents the demoralisation of
the Navy through pressing, the excessive cost of pressing and the
antagonising effects of pressing upon the nation at large, contributed
in no small degree to that final supersession of the press-gang which
was in essence, if not in name, the beginning of Free Trade.

To the people the impress was as an axe laid at the root of the tree.
There was here no question, as with trade, of the mere loss of hands
who could be replaced. Attacking the family in the person of its
natural supporter and protector, the octopus system of which the gangs
were the tentacles struck at the very foundations of domestic life and
brought to thousands of households a poverty as bitter and a grief as
poignant as death.

If the people were slow to anger under the infliction it was because,
in the first place, the gang had its advocates who, though they could
not extol its virtues, since it had none, were yet able, and that with
no small measure of success, to demonstrate to a people as insular in
their prejudices as in their habitat that, but for the invincible Navy
which the gang maintained for their protection, the hereditary enemy,
the detested French, would most surely come and compel them one and
all to subsist upon a diet of frogs. What could be seriously urged
against the gang in face of an argument such as that?

Patriotism, moreover, glowed with ardent flame. Fanned to twofold heat
by natural hatred of the foreigner and his insolent challenge of
insular superiority, it blinded the people to the truth that liberty
of the subject is in reality nothing more than freedom from
oppression. So, with the gang at their very doors, waiting to snatch
away their husbands, their fathers and their sons, they carolled "Rule
Britannia" and congratulated themselves on being a free people. The
situation was unparalleled in its sardonic humour; and, as if this
were not enough, the "Noodle of Newcastle," perceiving vacuously that
something was still wanting, supplied the bathetic touch by giving out
that the king, God bless him! could never prevail upon himself to
break through the sacred liberties of his people save on the most
urgent occasions. [Footnote: _Newcastle Papers_--Newcastle to
Yorke, 27 Feb. 1749-50.]

The process of correcting the defective vision of the nation was as
gradual as the acquisition of the sea-power the nation had set as its
goal, and as painful. In both processes the gang participated largely.
To the fleet it acted as a rude feeder; to the people as a ruder
specialist. Wielding the cutlass as its instrument, it slowly and
painfully hewed away the scales from their eyes until it stood
visualised for what it really was--the most atrocious agent of
oppression the world has ever seen. For the operation the people
should have been grateful. The nature of the thing they had cherished
so blindly filled them with rage and incited them to violence.

Two events now occurred to seal the fate of the gang and render its
final supersession a mere matter of time rather than of debate or
uncertainty. The mutiny at the Nore brought the people face to face
with the appalling risks attendant on wholesale pressing, while the
war with America, incurred for the sole purpose of upholding the right
to press, taught them the lengths to which their rulers were still
prepared to go in order to enslave them. In the former case their
sympathies, though with the mutineers, were frozen at the
fountain-head by fear of invasion and that supposititious diet of
frogs. In the latter, as in the ancient quarrel between Admiralty and
Trade, they went out to the party who not only abstained from pressing
but paid the higher wages.

While the average cost of 'listing a man "volunteerly" rarely exceeded
the modest sum of 30s., the expense entailed through recruiting him by
means of the press-gang ranged from 3s. 9d. per head in 1570
[Footnote: _State Papers Domestic, Elizabeth_, vol. lxxiii. f.
38: Estimate of Charge for Pressing 400 Mariners, 1570.] to 114 Pounds
in 1756. Between these extremes his cost fluctuated in the most
extraordinary manner. At Weymouth, in 1762, it was at least 100
Pounds; at Deal, in 1805, 32 Pounds odd; at Poole, in the same year,
80 Pounds. [Footnote: _London Chronicle_, 16-18 March, 1762;
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 581--Admiral Berkeley, 14 Feb. and 5 Aug.
1805.] From 1756 the average steadily declined until in 1795 it
touched its eighteenth century minimum of about 6 Pounds. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 579--Average based on Admirals' Reports on
Rendezvous, 1791-5.] A sharp upward tendency then developed, and in
the short space of eight years it soared again to 20 Pounds. It was at
this figure that Nelson, perhaps the greatest naval authority of his
time, put it in 1803. [Footnote: _Admiralty Records_ 1. 580
--Memorandum on the State of the Fleet, 1803.]

Up to this point we have considered only the prime cost of the pressed
man. A secondary factor must now be introduced, for when you had got
your man at an initial cost of 20 Pounds--a cost in itself out of all
proportion to his value--you could never be sure of keeping him.
Nelson calculated that during the war immediately preceding 1803
forty-two thousand seamen deserted from the fleet. [Footnote:
_Admiralty Records_ 1. 580--Memorandum on the State of the Fleet,
1803.] Assuming, with him, that every man of this enormous total was
either a pressed man or had been procured at the cost of a pressed
man, the loss entailed upon the nation by their desertion represented
an outlay of 840,000 Pounds for raising them in the first instance,
and, in the second, a further outlay of 840,000 Pounds for replacing

In this estimate there is, however, a substantial error; for,
approaching the question from another point of view, let us suppose,
as we may safely do without overstraining the probabilities of the
case, that out of every three men pressed at least one ran from his
rating. Now the primary cost of pressing three men on the 20 Pound
basis being 60 Pounds, it follows that in order to obtain their
ultimate cost to the country we must add to that sum the outlay
incurred in pressing another man in lieu of the one who ran. The total
cost of the three men who ultimately remain to the fleet consequently
works out at 80 Pounds; the cost of each at 26 Pounds, 13s. 4d. Hence
Nelson's forty-two thousand deserters entailed upon the nation an
actual expenditure, not of 1,680,000 Pounds, but of nearly two and a
quarter millions.

Another fact that emerges from a scrutiny of these remarkable figures
is this. Whenever the number of volunteer additions to the fleet
increased, the cost of pressing increased in like ratio; whenever the
number of volunteers declined, the pressed man became proportionally
cheaper. Periods in which the pressed man was scarce and dear thus
synchronise with periods when the volunteer was plentiful; but
scarcity of volunteers, reacting upon the gangs, and conducing to
their greater activity, brought in pressed men in greater numbers in
proportion to expenditure and so reduced the cost per head. In this
logical though at first sight bewildering interrelation of the laws of
supply and demand, we have in a nutshell the whole case for the cost
of pressing as against the gang. Taking one year with another the
century through, the impress service, on a moderate estimate, employed
enough able-bodied men to man a first-rate ship of the line, and
absorbed at least enough money to maintain her, while the average
number of men raised, taking again one year with another, rarely if
ever exceeded the number of men engaged in obtaining them. With
tranquillity at length assured to the country, with trade in a state
of high prosperity, the shipping tonnage of the nation rising by leaps
and bounds and the fleet reduced to an inexigent peace footing, why
incur the ruinous expense of pressing the seaman when, as was now the
case, he could be had for the asking or the making?

For Peace brought in her train both change and opportunity. The
frantic dumping of all sorts and conditions of men into the fleet
ceased. Necessity no longer called for it. No enemy hovered in the
offing, to be perpetually outmanoeuvred or instantly engaged. Until
that enemy could renew its strength, or time should call another into
being, the mastery of the seas, the dear prize of a hundred years of
strenuous struggle, remained secure. Our ships, maintained
nevertheless as efficient fighting-machines, became schools of leisure
wherein--a thing impossible amid the perpetual storm and stress of
war--the young blood of the nation could be more gradually inured to
the sea and tuned to fighting-pitch. Science had not yet linked hands
with warfare. Steam, steel, the ironclad, the super-Dreadnought and
the devastating cordite gun were still in the womb of the future; but
the keels of a newer fleet were nevertheless already on the slips, and
with the old order the press-gang, now for ever obsolete, went the way
of all things useless.

Its memory still survives. Those who despair of our military system,
or of our lack of it, talk of conscription. They alone forget. A
people who for a hundred years patiently endured conscription in its
most cruel form will never again suffer it to be lightly inflicted
upon them.



DEAR NEPEAN,--I enclose a little project for destroying the Enemy's
Flatboats if they venture over to our Coast, which you may shew, if
you please, to your Sea Lords as coming from some anonymous
correspondent. If they can improve upon it so as to make it useful, I
shall be glad of it; and if they think it good for nothing, and throw
it in the fire, there is no harm done. As the conveying an Army must
require a very great number of Boats, which must be very near each
other, if many such vessels as I propose should get among them, they
must necessarily commit great havoc. I cannot ascertain whether the
blocks or logs of wood would be strong enough to throw the shot
without bursting, or whether they would not throw the shot though they
should burst. I think they would not burst, and so do some Officers of
Artillery here; but that might be ascertained by experiment at any
time. This sort of Fire-vessel will have the advantage of costing very
little; and of being of no service to the Enemy should it fall into
their hands.

W. YOUNG. LEWES, 14 _Aug_. 1803.

[Illustration: Admiral Young's Torpedo. From the Original Drawing at
the Public Record Office.]


"The success of an attempt to land an Army on an Enemy's Coast, whose
Army is prepared to prevent it, will depend in a great degree on the
regularity of the order in which the Boats, or Vessels, are arranged,
that carry the Troops on Shore; everything therefore which contributes
to the breaking of that order will so far contribute to render success
more doubtful; especially if, in breaking the order, some of the Boats
or Vessels are destroyed. For this purpose Fireships well managed will
be found very useful; I should therefore think that, at all the King's
Ports, and at all places where the Enemy may be expected to attempt a
landing with Ships of War or other large Vessels, considerable
quantities of materials for fitting Fireships according to the latest
method should be kept ready to be put on board any small Vessels on
the Enemy's approach; but, as such Vessels would have little or no
effect on Gunboats or Flatboats, machines might be made for the
purpose of destroying them, by shot, and by explosion. The Shot should
be large, but as they will require to be thrown but a short distance,
and will have only thin-sided Vessels to penetrate, Machines strong
enough to resist the effort of the small quantity of Powder necessary
to throw them may probably be made of wood; either by making several
chambers in one thick Block, as No. 1, or one chamber at each end of a
log as No. 2, which may be used either separately, or fastened
together. The Vents should communicate with each other by means of
quick Match, which should be very carefully covered to prevent its
sustaining damage, or being moved by things carried about. Such
Machines, properly loaded, may be kept in Fishing boats or other small
vessels near the parts of the Coast where the Enemy may be expected to
land; or in secure places, ready to be put on board when the Enemy are
expected. The Chambers should be cut horizontally, and the Machine
should be so placed in the Vessel as to have them about level with the
surface of the water; under the Machine should be placed a
considerable quantity of Gunpowder; and over it, large Stones, and
bags of heavy shingle, and the whole may be covered with fishing nets,
or any articles that may happen to be on board. Several fuses, or
trains of Match, should communicate with the Machine, and with the
powder under it, so managed as to ensure those which communicate with
the Machine taking effect upon the others, that the shot may be thrown
before the Vessel is blown up. The Match, or Fuses, should be
carefully concealed to prevent their being seen if the Vessel should
be boarded.... If these Vessels are placed in the front of the Enemy's
Line, and not near the extremities of it, it would be scarcely
possible for them to avoid the effects of the explosion unless, from
some of them exploding too soon, the whole armament should stop. Every
Machine would probably sink the Boat on each side of it, and so do
considerable damage to others with the shot; and would kill and wound
many men by the explosion and the fall of the stones.... As the
success of these Vessels will depend entirely upon their not being
suspected by the Enemy, the utmost secrecy must be observed in
preparing the Machines and sending them to the places where they are
to be kept. A few confidential men only should be employed to make
them, and they should be so covered as to prevent any suspicion of
their use, or of what they contain."


Adams, Capt.,

_Admiral Spry_ tender,

_Adventure_, H.M.S.,

Ages below eighteen and over fifty-five exempt,

Alcock, Henry, Mayor of Waterford,

Alms, Capt.,

_Amaranth_, H.M.S.,

Ambrose, Capt.,

Amherst, Capt,

_Amphitrite_, H.M.S.,

Andover, the press-gang at,

_Anglesea_, H.M.S.,

Anne, Queen, impresses foreign seamen,
arms of press-gang under,
drummers and fifers pressed for navy in her reign,
sailors unwilling to serve,

Anson, Admiral Lord,

Anthony, John, pressed with two protections on him,

Appledore, press-gang at, 72,

Apprentices, exempt from impressment only in some circumstances,
in North-country pressed because their indentures bore Scotch 14s.
stamp instead of English 15s.,

Archer, Capt,

Arms of the press-gang,

_Assurance_, H.M.S.,

Aston, Capt,

Atkinson, Lieut.,

Ayscough, Capt.,

Baily, James, a ferryman, pressed for his inactivity,

Baird, Capt,

Balchen, Capt.,

Ball, Capt.,

Banyan days,

Bargemen impressed in thousands,

Barker, Capt., regulating officer at Bristol,

Barking, the press-gang at,

Barnicle, William,

Barnsley, Lieut.,

Barrington, Capt.,

Bath, Bristol gang's fruitless attempt at,


_Beaufort_, East Indiaman,

Beecher, Capt,

Bennett, Capt,

Bertie, Capt,

Bethell, Capt, paid damages for wrongfully impressing,

Bettesworth, John, claims privilege of granting private protections to
Ryde and Portsmouth ferrymen,

Biggen, Charles,

Billingsley, Capt.,

Bingham, William,

Birchall, Lieut.,

_Bird-in-hand_, H.M.S.,

Birmingham, sham gangs at,

_Black Book_ of the Admiralty,

Blackstone, Sir W.,

Blackwater, men working turf boats on, not exempt,

_Blanche_, H.M.S.,

Blear-eyed Moll,

_Blonde_, H.M.S.,

Boats for the press-gang,

Boat steerers on whalers exempt from impressment,

Boatswains, conditions of exemption,

_Bonetta_ sloop,

Boscawen, Capt.,

Boston, Mass.,

Bounty system, the,

Bowen, Capt.,

Box, Lieut,

Boys, Capt.,

Brace, Lieut.,

Bradley, Lieut,

Brawn, Capt.,

Breedon, Lieut.,

Brenton, Capt. Jahleel, afterwards Vice-Admiral,

Brenton, E. P., _Naval History_,

Brenton, Lieut,

Brereton, Capt.,

Brett, Capt, 110,

Bridges a favourite haunt of the press-gang,

Brighton, the press-gang at,

Bristol, the press-gang at,

Bristol jail as press-room,

_Bristol_, H.M.S.,

_Britannia_ trading vessel, three of the crew shot in resisting
the press-gang, the ship captured and taken to port,
the affair not within the coroner's purview, the bodies
buried at sea, court-martial acquits officers,

Brixham, the press-gang at,

Broadfoot case, the,

Broadstairs fishermen,
the press-gang at,
Bromley, Capt. Sir Robert,

Bullard, Richard, a fiddler persuaded to go to Woolwich to
play and for payment was handed to the gang,

_Bull-Dog_ sloop,

Burchett, Josiah, _Observations on the Navy_,

Burrows, Sam,

Butler, Capt.,

Byron, Lord,

Calahan, a gangsman, killed in attempting an arrest,

Cambridge bargemen, press-gang among,

Campbell, Admiral,

Cape Breton,

Caradine, Samuel,

Carey, Rev. Lucius,

Carmarthen, Admiral the Marquis of,


Carpenters, conditions of exemption,
on warships on coast of Scotland could be replaced by shipwrights
pressed from the yards,

Carrying the ship up,

Cartel ships,

Castle, William, an alien, impressed on his honeymoon,

Castleford, the press-gang at,

Cawsand safe from the press-gang,

Cecil, William, Lord Burleigh,

_Centurion_, H.M.S., Anson's flagship, whose crew on their return
had life-protection from the press,


Charles II.,

Chatham, crimpage at,

_Chatham_, H.M.S.,

Chester, the press-gang at

_Chevrette_ corvette,

Clapp, Midshipman,

Clark, George,

Clephen, James,

_Clincher_ gun-brig,

Cockburn, Bailie, of Leith,

Cogbourne's electuary,

Coke, Sir E.,

Collingwood, Admiral Lord,

Colvill, Admiral Lord,

Colville, Lieut.,


Conyear, John,

Cooper, Josh,

Cork, crimpage at,
the press-gang at,

Comet bomb ship,

Cornwall, the press-gang in,

Coversack, safe from the press-gang,

Coventry, Mr. Commissioner,

Coventry, sham gangs at,

Cowes, press-gang at,

Crabb, Henry,

Crews depleted by the press-gang,

Crick, William,

as sham gangsmen,

Cromer, the suspicions of the inhabitants,
bring the press-gang,
to take a noted Russian,

Crown Colonies, desertions in,

Croydon, the press-gang around,

Cruickshank, John, chaplain,

Culverhouse, Capt.,

Customs, Board of,

Dansays, Capt.,

Danton, Midshipman,

Darby, Capt.,

Dartmouth, H.M.S.,

Dartmouth, press-gang at,

Davidson, Samuel, of Newcastle,
applies for life protection

"DD," discharged dead, in muster books against names of persons

Deal, press-gang at,


Death of sailor in resisting impress, "accidental",

Debusk, John, shot by the press-gang,
on the Britannia,

Dent, Capt.,

Deptford, the press-gang at,

Desertion from the Navy,

Devonshire, H.M.S.,

Dipping the flag,

Director, H.M.S.,

Discipline in the Navy,

Disinfecting a ship,

Dispatch sloop,

Dolan, Edward,

Dominion and Laws of the Sea.,
See Justice, A.,

Dorsetshire, H.M.S.,

Douglas, Capt. Andrew,

Dover, press-gang at,

Downs, crimpage in the,

press-gang in,

Doyle, Lieut,

Dreadnought, H.M.S.,

Drummers pressed for the Navy,

Dryden, Michael, illegally pressed,

Dryden's sister,

Dublin, sham gangs at,
the press-gang at,

Duke, H.M.S.,

Duke of Vandome, H.M.S.,

Duncan case, the,

Dundas, Henry,

Dundonald, Lord, Autobiography,

Dunkirk, H.M.S.,

Eccentricity leads to impressment,

Eddystone lighthouse, building delayed through impressment of workmen,
builders of the third, protected,
keepers at, put inward-bound,
ships' crews ashore,

Edinburgh, press-gang at,

Edmund and Mary Collier,

Edward III. on the Navy,

Elizabeth, Queen,

Elizabeth ketch,

Ely bargemen, press-gang among,

Emergency crews of men unfit for pressing supplied to merchant-men by
the crimps,

Emergency men working on their own account,
places of muster for,

English Eclogues. See Southey, R.,

Evading the press-gang. See under Press-gang, How it was evaded.,

Evans, Richard, keeper of Gloucester Castle,

Exemption from impressment, not a right,
of foreigners,
negroes not included,
of landsmen only theoretical,
property no qualification for exemption,
of harvesters,
of gentlemen, judged by appearances,
below 18 and over 55 years,
of apprentices dependent on circumstances,
of merchant seamen dependent on circumstances,
of masters, mates, boatswains, and carpenters dependent on
of some of crew of whalers,
of Thames wherrymen by quota system,
of Tyne keelman by the same,
of Severn and Wye trow-men by 10% levy,
did not extend to turf boats on Shannon and Blackwater,
special for four on each fishing vessel, and later for all engaged
in taking, curing, and selling fish,
of Worthing fishermen for a levy,
of Scottish and Manx fishermen, on similar terms,
worthless without a document of protection,

Exeter, the press-gang at,

_Falmouth_, H.M.S.,

Falmouth, press-gang at,

Faversham, the press-gang at,

_Ferme_, H.M.S.,

Ferries, a favourite haunt of the press-gang,

_Feversham_, H.M.S.,

Fifers pressed for the Navy,

Fire on ship board,

Fisheries, carefully fostered,
three fish days made compulsory,
became a great nursery for seamen,
few exemptions granted, at first special concessions only to the
whale and cod fisheries,
later only such number as the warrant specified might be taken, and
these the Justices chose; in 1801 no person employed in taking,
curing, or selling fish could be impressed,
with their best men impressed, only small smacks could be worked,
a quota system preferred by the fishermen of some ports,
in Cornwall, the men turned tinners in the off-season,

Flags, flying without authority,
omission to dip,

Fleet, Liberty of,

Folkstone market-boats,

Folkstone, press-gang at,

Forcible entry by the press-gang illegal,

Foreigners impressed,
theoretically exempt,
married to English wives considered naturalised,
in emergency crews,

Frederick the Great,

Freeholders at one time exempt from impressment,

_Fubbs_, H.M.S.,

Gage, Capt.,

_Galloper_, tender to the _Dreadnought_,

_Ganges_, H.M.S.,

Garth, Dr.,

Gaydon, Lieut.,

Gentlemen exempt from the impress, but judged by appearance and

Gibbs, Capt.,

_Glory_, H.M.S.,

Gloucester, the press-gang at,

Gloucester Castle used as press-room,
the keeper's magic palm,

Godalming, the press-gang at,

Golden, John, Lord Mayor's bargeman, wrongfully impressed,

Good, James, midshipman,

Goodave, Midshipman,

Gooding, Richard,

Gosport, the press-gang at,

Gravesend, the press-gang at,

Gray, John,

Great Yarmouth, press-gang at,

Greenock, crimpage at,
press-gang at,
Trades Guild,

Greenock ferries, the press-gang at,

Greenwich Hospital,

Grimsby, the press-gang at,

Habeas Corpus, writs of, as means of arresting, and so freeing,
pressed men for debts not owing,

Half-pay officers, their projects and inventions,

Hamoaze, the, an entrepôt for pressed men,

Harpooners exempt from impressment,

Harrison, Lieut.,

Hart, Alexander,

_Harwich_, H.M.S.,

Haverfordwest, press-gang at,

Hawke, Admiral Sir Edward,

_Hawke_, H.M.S.,

Haygarth, Lieut.,

Health and illness,

_Hector_, H.M.S.,

Herbert, Emanuel,

_Hind_ armed sloop,

_Historical Relation of State Affairs_. See Lutterell, N.,

Hogarth's "Stage Coach,"

Hook, Joseph,

_Hope_ tender,

Hotten, J. C., _List of Persons of Quality, etc., who went from
England to the American Plantations_,

Hull, press-gang at,

Humber, the press-gang on,

Hurst Castle, the press-gang at,

Ilfracombe, the press-gang at,

Impressment. See Pressed labour.,


Inland waterways and the gang
at one time without the jurisdiction of the admirals,

Innes, Capt,

Ipswich, the press-gang at,

_Isis_, H.M.S.,

Isle of Man fishermen,

Jackson, Daniel, pressed from the Chester Volunteers,


_Jason_, H.M.S.,

Jervis, John, Earl of St. Vincent,

Jews, pressed on account of bandy legs,

_John and Elizabeth_ pink,

John, King, impressment under,

Johnson, Rebecca Anne,

Jones, Paul,

Justice, A., _Dominion and Laws of the Sea_,

Keith, A., parson of the Fleet,
_Observations on the Act for Preventing Clandestine Marriages_,

Kilkenny, the press-gang at,

King's Lynn, press-gang at,

Kingston, William, case of,

_King William_, Indiaman,

_Lady Shore_, the,

Landsmen exempt only in theory,

Latham, Capt.,

Law officers' opinions on pressing,

Leave, stoppage of,

Leeds, the press-gang at,

Leith, crimpage at,
press-gang at,

_Lennox_, H.M.S.,

Letting, John, pressed with two protections on him,

Lewis, Edward, chaplain,

Libraries, ships',

_Lichfield_, H.M.S.,

Licorne, H.M.S.,

Limehouse Hole, the press-gang at,

Lindsay, Admiral the Earl of, _Instructions_,

Linesmen on whalers exempt from impressment,

Liskeard, the press-gang at,

_List of Persons of Quality, etc., who went from England to the
American Plantations_. See Hotten, J. C.,

_Litchfield_, H.M.S.,

Littlehampton, the press-gang at,

Liverpool, crimpage at,
press-gang at,

Lodden Bridge, the press-gang at,

London, the press-gang in,

Londonderry, the press-gang at,

Longcroft, Capt,

_Loo_, H.M.S.,

Love, Henry, gets life protection as promised by Pitt and Dundas,

Lowestoft, the press-gang at,


Lundy Island, safe from the press-gang, but not to the sailors'
crews marooned on,

Lutterell, N., _Historical Relation of State Affairs_,
Capt. Hon. Jas.,

Lymington, the press-gang at,

M'Bride, Admiral,

M'Cleverty, Capt.,

M'Donald, Alexander, impressed under the age of twelve,

M'Gugan's wife,

M'Kenzie, Lieut.,

M'Quarry, Lachlan,

Magna Carta, its provisions contrary to impressment,

Mansfield, Lord,

Margate, the press-gang at,

_Maria_ brig,


Marooned crews on Lundy Island,

_Martin_ galley,

_Mary_ smuggler,

Masters, conditions of exemption,

Mastery of the sea, a necessity for England,

Mates, conditions of exemption,

Medway, press-gang on,

_Medway_, H.M.S.,

Men in lieu,

Merchant seamen, conditions of exemption,
unprotected when sleeping ashore,
the most valuable asset to the Navy,

Merchant service, hard conditions of crews,

_Mercury_, H.M.S.,

Messenger, George,

Mike, James, hanged for desertion,

Moll Flanders,

_Monarch_, H.M.S.,

_Monmouth_, H.M.S.,

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