Friday, September 23, 2011

How I saved two shillings

press gang
In pursuance of His majesty’s Order in Council dated the sixteenth day of November 1804, We do hereby Impower and Direct you to impress, or cause to be impressed, so many Seamen, Seafaring Men and persons whose Occupations and Callings are to work in Vessels and Boats upon Rivers, as shall be necessary  to Man His Majesty’s Ship under your Command, giving unto each Man so Impressed One Shilling for Prest Money.

So says a press warrant issued to a ship’s captain in 1809.

Well we have a lot of locks to do, so I thought an investment of two bob was worth it and sneaked up on Rick and Rainman. But they were not Impressed.  As luck would have it, they made the mistake of Volunteering, so saving them the indignity of having a shilling coin slipped into their beer mug.  In Rainman’s case it might have been a bit of a problem because he only drinks Coke. 

There is a downside. After further historical research I now find that as they volunteered, I am bound to protect them from their creditors if their debts are less than £20.  It’s a risky business being a boat skipper.
Now after even more historical research I find that they were exempt anyway, being either under 18 or over 55 years of age. Probably the latter.  Actually it was appropriate then that when I sneaked up on them I fooled them by describing the voyage as an “Autumn Days” cruise on behalf of Help the Aged.  After all I am fairly aged and could do with a bit of help.

Rick will be crewing us up the Birmingham and Fazeley into the city centre and Rainman the Grand Union section including the Hatton flight.

“One volunteer is worth three pressed men”  they say, and I’m sure they’re right.  The cruise is now fully booked, especially as we are likely to have further guests (Bob and Margaret) at the closing stage.

Now, where did I put those hard tack biscuits?

PS I just re registered with the UK Waterways Ranking site (having somehow lost the link before) and now I start again from the bottom of the list.


Anonymous said...

Does that mean we owe you two shillings for your crewing on the Thames?

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

Neil Corbett said...


Rainman said...

I'm a bit worried about this trip as I know you've got a cat on board and want to be addressed as Captain Bligh. Anyway I thought the Hatton lochs were in Scotland.

Roger Smith said...

You may be letting yourself in for trouble if you are going all Nelsonian navy, follow the link bellow and then scroll down to the table of rations you have to provide. Substitutions were allowed for the beer, such as wine by the quart instead of beer by the gallon IIRC.