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ARTICLES FROM "THE TIMES" RELATING TO THE PRESS GANGS

1 October 1787
Friday morning a press-gang having information that several sailors were
secreted in a house in Orchard-street, Westminster, entered it, and one man,
in endeavouring to escape from the top of the house,  fell into the yard upon 
the top of a pump, and was killed on the spot.

6 October 1787
The press continues to be pushed throughout all the ports with redoubled 
ardour; all the Custom-house cutters are now in the service, with a 
Lieutenant and press-gang on board each, and have swept off a considerable
number of seamen, particularly from on board the different smuggling vessels
on the coasts of Essex, Kent and Sussex.

17 October 1787
Johnson and Ryan were to have treated the amateurs on Friday last with 
some gymnastic exercises at Barnet, had not the report of a press-gang
obliged the athletic champions to sheer off - perhaps, this is the first time
British Tars ever prevented a battle !

18 October 1787
Tuesday night a press-gang took out of Long-lane, in that part which is
outside the city, eleven bullock hunters, who met at a public-house, it
being their club-night, and conducted them on board a tender lying
off the Tower.

 23 October 1787
On Saturday evening a pretended press-gang consisting of five men
stopped a man in Long-lane as he was going home with his wages, 
and under pretence of impressing him for the King's service, were
hauling him away; the man, however, upon producing half a guinea,
was permitted to go away. He having watched the party into a public
house, went to Horsleydown, and brought a real gang with the proper
officer, who surprised the sharpers regaling on their booty, every one
of whom were carried on board the tender at the Tower.

26 October 1787
Old Bailey
Thursday, October 25th
William Whiteway was indicted for feloniously and maliciously shooting 
A pistol, loaded with powder and shot, at Thomas Philbin, with an intention 
to kill and murder him. - The prosecutor, Thomas Philbin, was Captain of
a press-gang, and had committed an assault upon a girl. The prisoner at
the Bar was a constable, and had a warrant to apprehend the prosecutor
for his assault.  Philbin and his gang were drinking in the Sun alehouse
at St.Catherine's. The prisoner at the Bar came there along with the girl 
who had been assaulted. The prosecutor said that Whiteway told him he
must go along with him. The prosecutor said he would not go. He desired
them to clear the way, and actually shot at the prosecutor, and wounded 
him terribly in the head. His hat was produced, and was all torn by the shot
that had passed through it. On cross-examination, the Captain of the press
gang was not quite confident in his evidence. Philbin said he had a stick
in his hand, but did not know if all the rest had.
The next evidence was one of the press-gang who said, the young woman 
who had been assaulted came in, and pointing at Philbin, said to Whiteway
there is your prisoner. Robert Dawson came in, who was an officer belonging
to the same office as Whiteway; and William Pcket, who was one of the press
gang, asked Dawson if he would take his word for Philbin's appearance
tomorrow. He answered that he would do that very willingly. Picet went to
Whitway, and told him. Dawson had taken his word for Philbin's appearance.
Whiteway said he would take nobody's word. On cross examination he said
none of the press-gang opposed Whiteway, nor attempted to oppose him.
At first he said he had related all the conversation that had passed; but after
-ward he recollected that when Whiteway came in he said to Captain Philbin,
Young man you must go along with me. He answered, he would not. 
Whiteway said he should go. The Captain replied , he would not go with any
bloody b____r of a runner. This was just before Whiteway fired. There were
seven or eight of the press-gang together when the prisoner came to execute
his warrant.
(Remainder summarised for brevity)
William Picket gave evidence which was much the same as the last witness.
Then the publican gave evidence, which was again similar but added the fact 
that Philbin was holding a bludgeon in a threatening manner when he refused
to go with Whiteway. He did not strike Whiteway, however. He said he had
already warned Philbin in the afternoon that there was a warrant out for him 
and had told him to go away. Philbin had said that he would not be taken and 
he would go and get his gang. He gave Whiteway an excellent character. He 
also said that the others of the gang also had bludgeons.
Dawson's evidence was similar.
Mr.Justice Heath, summing up, said that Whiteway was acting under a 
warrant from a Justice of the Peace, and that it was his duty to execute 
it.  He said that the manner in which Philbin had held the bludgeon and his
reply to Whiteway when he tried to arrest him amounted to an assault by
Philbin. If Philbin had died as a result of the shot Whiteway would not have
been guilty of murder but of manslaughter.
Verdict of the Jury - Not guilty.

27 October 1787
On Sunday evening a press-gang, attended by some of the Bow-street 
Officers, visited the Adam and Eve public house, near Islington, when
finding a large concourse of people tippling in the gardens, and some
apartments in the house, they made bold to take away such as were
unable to give a proper account of themselves. The clamour and 
resistance of some of those who were taken, drew together a number
of spectators, some of whom were removed for their curiosity, being
also taken by the press-gang.

23 July 1790
On Tuesday last arrived at Hull, the Egginton, Capt.Allan, from Greenland,
with 200 butts of blubber, the produce of 4 fish and 2460 seals. .....
On the arrival of the Egginton at Hull, and the ship being safe moored, 
the men went on shore in a body, armed with long knives, etc. to the
Custom House, to muster. The officers received protections, and for three
days no press-gang durst come near the common men. 

23 August 1790
Friday night, about 10 o'clock, a press-gang made their appearance in 
Oxford market - As they were carrying off a butcher's lad, they were beset
by a large party of the sons of the cleaver, and received so complete a 
drubbing, that they were glad to relinquish their prisoner , and shelter
themselves in a beer-house in Berwick-street, the Lieutenant narrowly 
escaping with his life.

14 October 1790
Monday as four sailors, who had returned from sea a few days before, were
drinking in a public-house in Atherton-street, Liverpool, they were attacked
by a press-gang, but the sailors having fire-arms with them, warned the gang
to keep off; This they did not attend to, and were coming to seize the sailors,
when they fired, and one of the press-gang was killed upon the spot, and
another very dangerously wounded.

25 February 1791
King's Bench, Westminster Hall, Thursday, Feb. 24
Before Lord Kenyon and a special jury
The King against Wright
This was an indictment on the prosecution of Mr.Cuthel, a publican, in
East Smithfield, against the Defendant, Mr.Wright, who was a Lieutenant
of a Press-gang, for an assault.
The substance of the evidence for the prosecution was, that on Friday night,
the 10th September, at quarter past eleven, when the Plaintiff's house was
shut up, the defendant forced the door open. He had a drawn sword in his 
hand, and was attended by eight or ten men, with cutlasses, swords, and 
pistols. Wright said he had got an information against him. The landlord told
him there was no person there who was fit for him; Wright and his men were
not satisfied with this, but committed a riot in the house, and ill used Cuthel.
One of them assaulted Mrs. Cuthel, and Wright himself collared Mr.Cuthel
with his left hand, while he had a drawn sword in his right hand, and was 
dragging him out, when the prosecutor laid hold of the door, to prevent his
being dragged out, and carried off by the Defendant and his men. After they
went out, they presented three pistols at the prosecutor, and the Defendant
said, fire away at the d___d b____r, fire, cut away.
A number of the Defendant's men were called, who denied all this; but the 
Jury did not believe them, and found the Defendant Guilty.  

25 July 1791
The King v Hawkins
This was an indictment against the defendant for assaulting James Wood, a
constable, in the execution of his duty. This constable was sent for to keep
the peace by a Mrs. Dobson, who keeps a public-house at Shadwell. He was sent
for in consequence of a disturbance and riot occasioned by a press-gang; at
the head of which was the defendant. The press-gang were in quest of sailors,
whom they had a right to take. But the defendant was accused of breaking locks
and doors, and of knocking down the prosecutor without the least provocation.
On the part of the prosecution four witnesses were examined, and eight for the
defendant. 
The witnesses on each side contradicted one another in almost every fact.
His Lordship observed that four witnesses had sworn that the Prosecutor had
no candlestick in his hand, and eight that he had. In one point two of the 
witnesses for the prosecution contradicted each other. Wood swore that he first
received a blow from the Defendant with his fist, and then three blows with a 
bludgeon, and that he did not fall till he received the third blow. Goter, 
another witness swore that the first blow with the Defendant's fist brought the
prosecutor to the ground. 
The Jury retired for a considerable time, and brought in a verdict of Guilty.

27 February 1793
Newcastle, Feb.23
On Tuesday last, the sailors of this port dismissed the press-gang from North 
Shields, with the highest marks of contempt; - with their jackets reversed.
They were conducted by a numerous mob to Chirton-Bar, and who, on parting, gave
them three cheers, but vowing that, should they ever attempt to enter Shields,
they should be torn limb from limb.The next day their favourite, Captain Rothe,
met and addressed them, and from his assurance, and the manner in which it was
received, we have great reason to hope that all disquietude with the gallant
tars will be removed; we are, however, since informed, that the seamen at Shields
have forfeited their promiss to Captain Rothe, and yesterday they again dismissed
the gang.


28 March 1793
Newcastle, March 23
Monday the sailors at Shields, to the amount of 500, assembled in a riotous manner,
armed with swords, pistols, and other weapons, and made an attempt to seize the
Eleanor tender, in order to rescue the imprest men on board which was rendered
abortive by the exertions of the officers at this port. The seamen, next day, 
endeavoured to come to Newcastle, but hearing that a strong civil and military
force was ready to receive them, they wisely abandoned their rash determination,
and dispersed, after having treated George Forster, one of the press-gang, with
the utmost cruelty, at Howden pans.

2 November 1793
Old Bailey
Murder
A legthy report of the trial of Richard Tuart, a member of a press-gang, for the
wilfil murder of Lars Holmstans, by giving him a blow beneath the right ear with
a stick on the 18th August from which he died on 20 September.
Tuart was only one of the assailants, but was the only one who had been caught.
Holmstans was Swedish, and as a foreigner was not liable to be impressed.
Various witnesses were called including two surgeons who had examined the deceased.
However, the surgeons could not swear that his death resulted from the blows he
recieved, and one said that the most likely cause was a fall. In light of this
the Judge said that the indictment could not be proved. However, the Court 
reproved the actions of the press-gang.

7 November 1793
The ship Hankey, on board of which a cotagious fever has broken out, had the mate
and a number of hands pressed out of her previous to her arrival in the Downs;
notwithstanding the Captain warned the press-gang of the fatal consequences that
might ensue. This matter deserves the attention of the Admiralty.

14 November 1793
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Mr.Marriott applied for a Writ of Habeas Corpus to be directed to the Captain of a
press-gang to bring up the body of Robert Dryden. This motion was founded on 6 and
7 W.3.c.18.f.19. Dryden was mate of a collier, and had been pressed, which it was
contended, was a violation of thiis Act of Parliament.
The learned Counsel was permitted to take a Rule to shew just cause, and was ordered
to give notice to the Attorney General, in order that the question may be discussed
and determined - how far sailors on board coal vessels are, or are not, liable to 
be pressed in time of war.      
  

19 November 1793
On Thursday evening a press-gang attempted to get on board the Camden East Indiaman,
lying at Gravesend; but the crew resolutely opposed their coming into the ship; and
appeared with arms in their hands, swearing they would cut them down. A young Irishman,
remarkably strong, took up a grindstone lying on the deck, and swore he would throw it
upon them if they did not desist, upon which they rowed off , but returned again at
four o'clock next morning , and being served as before, were obliged to sheer off.

22 August 1798
Sunday two young men, mates of West-India ships just arrived, were going with two
respectable young women to be married at Rotherhithe Church; when arrived within a 
little distance of the Church, a press-gang stopped the coach, and dragged out the
two young men and a landsman, their friend, and notwithstanding the earnest entreaties
of the young girls and their relations, who followed in another coach, hurried them
on board the tender. Such is the exigency of the service in the naval department at
this time that all the seamen have been taken out of the West-India ships and sent
on board the Overissel guardship in the Downs.

27 July 1801
On Thursday evening a press-gang, consisting of about 14 persons, having received
information of a number of sailors who lately belonged to the Company's ships being
secreted in some public houses in Leadenhall-street, proceeded thither, properly
armed, with the intention to impress them and take them on board the tender. The 
sailors, however, having intimation of their approach, instantly collected together
and resisted the gang. An engagement ensued, and the sailors, after a difficult
scuffle, proved victorious, and obliged the press-gang to relinquish their purpose.
Several were wounded on both sides, and a number of windows were broken during the
affray.

13 April 1803
Weymouth
A terrible affair happened on Saturday se'nnight:- A press-gang from a frigate,
Lying in Portland-roads, consisting of the Captain and his Lieutenant, with the
Lieutenant of Marines, and 27 Marines, and about as many sailors, came on shore
At Portland Castle, and proceeded to the first village, called Chesslton. They
Impressed Henry Wiggot and Richard Way, without any interruption whatever. The
People of the island took the alarm, and fled to the village of Eason, which is
Situated about the centre of the island, where the people made a stand at the 
Pond. The gang came up, and the Captain took a man by the collar. The man pulled
Back, on which the Captain fired his pistol; at which signal the Lieutenant of
Marines ordered his men to fire, which being done, three men fell dead, being 
All shot through the head, viz. Richard Flann, aged 42, Alex. Andrews, 47 years,
And William Lang, 26 years, all married men, two of them quarry-men, and one a
Blacksmith. - One man was shot through the thigh, and a young woman in the back;
The ball is still in her body, and but little hopes are entertained of her 
recovery. Poor Lang, the blacksmith, was at his shop-door, and there fell dead.

19 April 1803
The following account of the late unfortunate affair at Portland island is 
copied from the Portsmouth Telegraph:- "Capt.Wolfe, of L'Aigle, who was 
ordered to Portland on the impress service, suspected he should meet with
resistance from the quarry-men. Soon after he landed, two muskets were
discharged at his party, from the quarry-men, who opposed the wishes expressed
by several seamen to enter with Capt. Wolfe, and obliged them to retire into
their rear, and then retreated. The press-gang followed and came up with them
at the distance of two or three miles from the shore, in a village, where the
quarry-men made a stand; and, on their near approach, they fired at, and 
desperately wounded some of the King's officers and men. The fire was returned
and the melancholy catastrophe, already stated, followed. The story of the 
blacksmith having been killed, standing peaceably at his own door, is not
correct; for he was in the act of cocking a musket, when he received his death
wound.

9 May 1803
On Saturday afternoon two gallies, each having an Officer and press-gang in it,
In endeavouring to impress some persons at Hungerford Stairs, were resisted by
a party of Coal-heavers belonging to a wharf adjoining, who assailed them with
coals and glass bottles: Several of the gang were cut in a most shocking manner,
on their heads and legs, and a woman who happened to be in a wherry was wounded
in so dreadful a manner, that it is feared she will not survive.
The Impress on Saturday, both above and below Bridge, was the hottest that has
been for some time; the boats belonging to the ships at Deptford were 
particularly active, and it is supposed they obtained upwards of two hundred 
men, who were regulated on board the Enterprize till late at night, and sent
in the different tenders to the Nore, to be put on board such ships whose crews
are not complete.
The impressed men, for whom there was no room on board the Enterprize, on 
Saturday, were put into the Tower, and the gates shut, to prevent any of them
effecting their escape.
The impress on the River was yesterday continued with the utmost activity.

2 July 1803
Yesterday, in consequence of an information, a press-gang went to a house in
Drury-lane, and pressed a man, who, upon making some little resistance, received
so dreadful a cut on the head with a hanger, that his life is despaired of. The
person who wounded him was taken into custody immediately. 

 
14 September 1803
Hick's Hall, Tuesday, Sept. 13
Assault on a Press Gang
Three persons, named Quin, Bell, and Noel, were indicted for violently 
assaulting ______ Trevallion, Jacob Morse, and William Taylor. It was stated by 
the prosecutors that they constituted a press gang, and had their regular
warrant in their possession at the time of the assault. 
(Summarised)
The Press Gang said that they were in Wapping on the night of 24 June, a little
after 11 o'clock, when they saw two men in sailor's dress going into a public-
house kept by Quin. They followed intending to press them. Quin said no rascally
press-gang would come into his house and resisted them. Meanwhile one of the men
got out of a window. When they got in they tried to press one man who said he 
was the gunner of a man-of-war. Quin supported his statement, and said they 
could not press him. He tried to pull the man from them. The three defendants
followed the gang into the street and attacked and beat them with sticks. This 
was the general story told by the prosecutors but their stories differed in the
detail. Trevallion and Morse had also differed in identifying their attackers at
Thames Police Office. Trevallion admitted that although he was a press master
At the time he had since been discharged for misconduct in firing a pistol when
there was no need. He was also a Police Constable but had been suspended for 
some time for misconduct. The Defence made much of Trevallion's doubtful 
character. They did not dispute that the prosecutors had been attacked but said
that these were not the men who had done so. Quin was a well known and respected
person in the area, Bell was the master of a ship, and Noel was a broker in the
coasting trade. Quin had been summoned to appear at Thames Police Office and had
taken Bell and Noel with him to speak on his behalf, but as soon as the 
prosecutors saw them they accused them, wanting to find someone to accuse.
Various witnesses were brought by the defence who all testified that none of the
three accused had left the public house between the time the gang left there and
the time they heard the cries of the prosecutors outside.
Verdict - Not Guilty    

11 November 1803
A letter from Margate, dated November 8, says "Last night a naval officer landed
On the Pier about ten o'clock with a press gang, and having exercised his 
Authority in a manner deemed improper by the high constable and another peace
Officer of this port, they interfered and informed the naval officer that the
Persons he had impressed were not objects of the impress act. In consequence of
This interference, the gang seized the two constables, and sent them with 
Several others on board the ship.

18 November 1803 
Court of King's Bench, Nov.17
Criminal Information
Mr.Gibbes moved the Court for a Rule to shew cause why a criminal information 
should not be filed against Lieut. John Mitchell, who is the Commander of a Press
Gang. The person who made this application to the Court was Mr.Robert Thompson, the
Master of the ship Nancy, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He swore that on the 1st of August 
last his vessel was ready for sea, and that he was going to South Shields for a pilot;
that on his return to his vessel, at ten o'clock at night, he being about to sail 
that night, he was struck by a cutlass, and when he looked round he saw this Lieut.,
who appeared to be very much intoxicated; that he told him he was the master of a
vessel just about to sail, and desired him to examine his papers. He was ready to go
with him anywhere that he might inspect his papers. Notwithstanding that, he forcibly
dragged him along the streets, and carried him to the place of rendezvous of Impressed
men. He wished that a light might be brought, and that they might examine the papers;
he was, however, put among the other men the whole night; during that time he was 
prevented from sailing with his ship, and lost two tides. He next day was immediately
discharged. He not only had that affidavit, but another affidavit of a man of the 
name of Ross, who happened to come by, and knowing Mr.Thompson, he expostulated with
them' on which they immediately seized him, and carried him to the place of rendezvous
and kept him there the whole night. There was the affidavit of a third person, to the
same effect. This gentleman was there the whole night, whe they refused to examine 
his papers. This was outrageous conduct on the part of this gentleman, and wholly
unjustifiable. He trusted the Court would grant the information.
Lord Ellenborough - "Take a Rule to shew cause"

17 January 1804
We vopy the following from a morning paper -
"A press-gang stationed at Chester having, on the 28th ult., pressed one of the Volunteers,
who had been at sea, and lodged him in gaol, a great number of the members of the Corps to
which he belonged, proceeded, after their parade, to the prison, and demanded the man. On 
receiving a refusal they threatened to proceed to violencem when Major Wilmot, their commander
came up, and declared that he would put the first of them to death that attempted to force 
the gaol; upon which he was seized by the Volunteers, someof whom called out to have his sword
broken over his head. By the assistance of some friends, he was, however, rescued from them
unhurt. THey then turned their fury against the gaol, the windows of which they first forced 
in, and then the door; upon which the gaoler, in order to secure the rest of the prisoners, 
gave up the man in question, who was chaired through all the principal streets of the city. 
The naval rendezvous house was the next object of attack, the windows and doors of which they
destroyed. At their approach the press-gang retired; but leaving their colours, the Volunteers
tore them from their staff, and dragged them in the kennel - Lieutenant-Colonel Cuyler, the
Inspecting Field Officer of the Volunteers in the district, sent to, and called upon, the 
Mayor and Magistrates to use their authority, who sent a note to Lieutenant Burchell, earnestly
requesting him to take his gang out of Chester, till troops should arrive in the city. The
Magistrates, at the same time, sent an express on the subject to Prince William of Gloucester,
who commands the district, in consequence of which, four companies of the Shropshire Supplementary
Militia were immediately marched in from Liverpool, and, at the endof some days, peace was
restored.

23 October 1804
Middlesex Quarter Sessions
Hicks Hall, Clerkenwell, Monday, Oct.22
James Faire, the Commander of a Press-gang, was convicted ofan assault on John Nugent, and was
sentenced to Fourteen Days imprisonment.

22 November 1804
Yesterday, about 2 o'clock, a press gang entered the library of Mr.Creighton, of Tavistock-street,
Covent-garden, and, upon the sole authority of a false and anonymous letter, which their leader
read as his warrant, seized upon Mr. Dowling, a respectable youth of nineteen, who has been some
time employed there as librarian, whom they charged with being a seaman, and deserter from the
navy; and notwithstanding his offers to disprove the charge by twenty witnesses, before any
magistrate, they forcibly dragged him through the streets to Tower-hill, and hurried him aboard
the Enterprize Tender, where he still remains. The youth's father, who resides in Lincoln's-inn
fields, went in the evening on board the Tender, to require the liberation of his son, and offered
every assertion that the lad had never been at sea in his life; that he been for eighteen months
past a member of the Royal Westminster Volunteers; and that he never slept from his father's house
at night, or lived a day out of his family from his infancy, save about eight months at an Academy
near Birmingham; and never had any engagement, directly or indirectly in the sea service; but the
Lieutenant , who behaved with very gentlemanly politeness, declined to liberate the youth until 
the decision of the Regulating Captain should be known.           
   
21 May 1805
Court of King's Bench
The King v Nemuel Gulliver
This defendant was brought up to receive the judgement of the Court, for aiding and assisting in
the rescue of persons in the custody of a press-gang near Poole, in Dosetshire. He misled the 
persons who joined in the rescue by telling them that the authority under which the Officer 
acted was an old or stale warrant, when in fact it had received the indorsement of the Mayor of
the adjacent port on the preceding day. After a serious admonition from Mr.Justice Grose, he was
sentenced to be imprisoned for six months in Dorchester gaol.

4 December 1805
Yesterday James Fair, the Master of a press gang was indicted for a violent assault upon Mrs. Anne
Harvey, the owner of a public house in East Smithfield, on the 4th of October.
(Summarised)
Mrs Harvey attempted to save her glass and crockery when the press gang tried to impress two men
in her public house. She, unfortunately, got between them, and Fair hit her and knocked her down, 
bringing a five gallon cask of cordial gin which knoked her out. He then ran away but waslater caught.
He was severely reprimanded by the Judge and fined 40s.

17 August 1810
Thursday Thomas Harris, a private in the Monmouth Militia was drummed out of the regiment, at Bath,
as a thief and a vagabond. He had committed repeated acts of theft upon his comrades and upon the
landlords where he was billetted. Neither punishment, nor disgrace, neither leniency, nor pardon,
made any impression on his conduct. When the usual ceremonies of drumming out were over, he press
gang took Harris in tow.

13 May 1813
Thursday morning James Hendry, midshipman, was sent off from Glasgow, under an escort, to Edinburgh,
to stand trial before the High Court of Justiciary. He commanded a party belonging to an impress
tender, that landed at Campbeltown, on the 15th of March and imprssed some seamen. A mob collected
to attempt a rescue, and pelted the press-gang with stones; and they in return fired, when unfortu-
nately ____ M'Lean, a girl of 14 years of age, was killed.




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