Did You Know?

...that the pressgang laws have never been repealed and are still part of the British legal system. The pressgang acted by sanction of both custom and the law: as far back as the days of King Edward I legal sanction for it exists. Men liable were "eligible men of seafaring habits between the ages of 18 and 55 years" with a few exceptions, but these restrictions were often ignored, with disastrous results. The last law on the subject was passed in 1835 and restricted the length of naval service of a pressed man to five years with the additional proviso that he could not be impressed a second time. Soon after this date the pressgang died a natural death but the various laws authorising it have not in fact been repealed.


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by Stephen Luscombe