Book Review: The Press Gang: Naval Impressment and its Opponents in Georgian Britain


by Nicholas Rogers

London/New York: Continuum, 2007. Pp. xi, 168. Illus., tables, notes, biblio., index. $29.95 paper. ISBN:1847144683

A focused treatment -- arguably the first such -- of what was the grimmest aspect of British maritime supremacy in the eighteenth century, the systematic impressment of men into the Royal Navy, by a specialist in Georgian history at York University in Toronto. 

Under impressment laws, anyone even remotely deemed a ?seaman? was potentially liable to be scooped up by the press gang and sent off to sea for years on end, in numbers that the author notes are unknowable due to the lack of accurate documentation.  Rogers looks at all aspects of impressment, such as social dislocation, since it often resulted in enormous suffering among sailor's families, as well as the disruption of commerce, and pays a good deal of attention to the forms that opposition to the press took, including rioting, court battles, and parliamentary debates. 

A valuable treatment of a very neglected subject

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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