Slaves

As Blair And Prescott have been swanning over the world in the last few months apologising for slaves, should not the 1SL do the same for the sailors that were press ganged in Nelsons day? They were treated far worse than slaves on the plantations. They were starved (officers nicked thier rations) lived in terrible conditions, not allowed off the ship (otherwise they would leg it) and then used as canon fodder while the ships were abeam pumping canon fire into each other. then flogged or hung to death because they looked at an officer the wrong way or asked for some food or pay. an unforgivable way of life and I think the Navy should start sending some apologies out
 

lsadirty

War Hero
Ah, but this was the era of Rule Brittania at sea, when we did rule the waves, so we can't knock it - pity they still teach the Divine Right of Kings at Dartmouth, the Mob might be still worthwhile ..
 
LTCOOTB Wrote Most landsmen in the RN were convicts avoiding prision sentances or transportation.

What a wonderfull Navy we had then, A ship full of obnoxious officers and seamen as convicts, a certain reciept to stay away from RN ships. They certainly had a better life as diggers in oz.
 

lsadirty

War Hero
They cared for their men ? Read "The Black Ship" by Dudley Pope - they cared for them that much that flogging seemed to be the Captain's hobby. They had an Article of War known as the "Captain's Cloak", which he could interpret any offence (like losing an ID card today) as being a flogging offence - and they used it. all too often, The ship in question was HMS HERMIONE.
 

lsadirty

War Hero
Just had a look through my "mutinies and incidents of mass disobedience" files as the Navy likes to call them.
HERMOINE floggings ordered by Captain Wilkinson January 25th-October 12th 1794 - 408 lashes, on 15 individuals.
HERMIONE loggings ordered by Captain Pigot, October 12th 1794-September 11th 1795 - 2568 lashes, 10 floggings with an unspecified number of lashes, plus one man flogged around the Fleet for an unspecified offence whilst aboard another ship.
Just the sort of skipper I was lucky enough to miss !
BTW, the last incident that the Navy termed as " mutiny" on the IVESTON are now in the National Archive under references ADM 330/36-42. Despite the full threat of the Naval Discipline Act, the whole affair was nipped in the bud by the common dog of the local "Poliss" sergeant and his mate - I read the files when I worked for the MoD. Fcuking hysterical...........Some of the post war Naval "mutinies" are so funny it ain't true - one was caused by POM being served because the Chefs boiled away all the spuds they'd peeled the night before - so nothing's changed, has it ??
 

Polycell

War Hero
huffnut_cringe said:
As Blair And Prescott have been swanning over the world in the last few months apologising for slaves, should not the 1SL do the same for the sailors that were press ganged in Nelsons day? They were treated far worse than slaves on the plantations. They were starved (officers nicked thier rations) lived in terrible conditions, not allowed off the ship (otherwise they would leg it) and then used as canon fodder while the ships were abeam pumping canon fire into each other. then flogged or hung to death because they looked at an officer the wrong way or asked for some food or pay. an unforgivable way of life and I think the Navy should start sending some apologies out
What a load of tosh!!
Wasn't this the time that starving people pinching a loaf of bread would be chucked in prison or shipped to Australia? Shouldn't Blair apologise for that as well?
Come on I'm not a Blair lover but its hardly his fault is it and to be truthful I think he has a got a lot more to apologise for than events that happened almost 150 years or so ago. Like a ridiculous Gulf war where our troops are being killed on a weekly basis for what? Because Mr Blair, bless him, or Smarmy Tone to his mates, his his nose firmly planted up Sugars arris!! and can't see what a pratt, because Sugars testies are blocking his view, is making of himself.
 
All nations at the time were involved in slavery.
However, it was the UK that first banned the practice, and, almost at to the point of going to war, did its' best to prevent slaving traffic from Africa to the U.S.
Quite what Mr Blair had in his mind I can't say but feel we should be proud of our anti slaving stance, well before many other countries did so.
 
Yes the UK was the first to stop slavery, and to their credit they not only stopped it in the UK and the Empire (eventually) but they actively went about trying to get every one else to stop which was perhaps even more important. Mind you it was also the UK that perfected the process of industrialising slavery and was responsible for bringing a large proportion of those who were enslaved into slavery, ably abbetted by various people in the African clolonies.

Yes the RN in wartime did rely very much on the Impress Service for manpower, but very little of that was actually by kidnapping as Hollywood would have us believe. One must first realise that the peace time service was almost completely volunteers, so naval service was nt that bad. Secondly the RN actually wanted trained seamen and the Press was intended to 'recruit' trained seamen who were supposed to be obliged to 'answer the call', based very much on the old feudal concepts of raising an army. During a war the rates of pay for merchant sailers went up so many prefered the 'guaranteed' pay in the merchant service over the possibility of prize money from the RN, even though conditions of service and food were considered better in the RN. Landsmen were taken, some men were better than no men, but then it was considered that it could take up to 5 years to train a landsman into a seaman, so no captain wanted a ship crewed by landsmen. Yes the Press over stepped the mark from time to time and there were a few cases of legal action over wrongful impressment. Mind you the Army recruiters had no better a reputation, hence the glass bottomin many tankards of the time so the wary drinker could check that the 'kings shilling' had not been hidden in his bear before he started to drink. Many of those pressed did in fact sign on again when released, the money was good, food was good, and the discipline as much reflected the times, do rember flogging was commom in the criminal courts and transportation was an alternative to the death penalty which applied to most theft and many other crimes. Floggers were not that popular amongst their brother captains and in general many with that reputation did not get further commands unless the admiralty was particularly short and for most of the Napoleonic wars they had a surplus of post captains.
 

Seaweed

RIP
Book Reviewer
1. Many a pressed man was given the opportunity to 'volunteer' in which case he received a bounty payment.

2. Parishes at one time had a 'quota' to raise for which they offloaded skates and layabouts onto the Navy where these men were notoriously unwelcome on the messdeck.

3. Whole crews of merchantmen were pressed in the Channel after maybe a two-year voyage away from home. There are numerous references to this in the logs of East Indiamen in the British Library; skeleton crews of men holding 'protection papers' were then supplied to work these ships up to Blackwall. What the RN got were trained seamen; what these seamen got was of course a green rub. In addition warships could press from any British merchantman encountered on the high seas; of course the merchantman's master would try and influence who was offloaded! Some merchantmen had skive holes where men (such as RN deserters) might try and hide but one can imagine the press men were wise to that.

4. Those whose only view of the 18th century Navy comes from watching Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh could also improve their understanding by reading up on the Enclosure process on land and the fate of the paupers that this, and the beginnings of mechanisation of agriculture produced. They could also usefully read up on transportation which had been part of the judicial process since the 16th century and was a merciful alternative to hanging in many cases. The individual offences cited do not always give a true bill of the recidivism often involved.

5. Finally let's hear it for those Captains who advertised for men and got them coming in droves because such and such a captain was seen as 'lucky'. Also those Captains who, on being moved up to a larger ship, were enthuiastically followed by a large proprtion of their old ship's company (carefully leaving their skates and crows behind as usual).
 
Seaweed

1. Agreed, but I think in the records they were still Pressed to show the Impress had achieved it's targets.

2. This was tried from time to time but generally was not favoured, by the Napoleonc period I don't think it was the general rule rather some towns etc agreed to do the job of the impress and hand over so many men a year and thus avoid the press actually acting in their area. It gave the vested interests the opportunity to protect their own interests (ships crews) but did result in poor house clear outs. Not only were the products of the jails not welcome on the messdeck officers were not happy with them in general either and ships would sail short rather than take the dregs.

3. Whilst pressing from ships did take place it was not common, Britain needed the trde to pay for the war, stopping of neutrals at sea was more to find deserters and press avoiders than to take whole crews though many did volunteer, the RN had a good reputation for good food, and prize money. Nelson had a fair tally of foreigners in the fleet at Trafalgar, including a fair sample of Frogs.

4. I would agree that social conditions in the period for the non serviceman could be dire and for many a berth in the RN was almost as good as winning the lottery, especially as the opportunities for advancement were good for good men. Equally it was quite common for midshipmen to be the sons of warrant officers either with captains they had served with, or placed through the influence of an old captain.

5. Certainly a catain with a good reputation for taking prizes or earnibng some of the other bonuses arround then rarely sailed short of crew. Equally many flag officers did not approve of harsh treatment and worked hard to weed out captains who mistreated their men. Mutiny was feared and bad treatment was recognised as a major cause.
 
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