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An Order to Deploy the Press Gang in North Shields

From Dan Jackson on X @Northumbriana:

One of the most amazing things in @keelrowbookshop: an order to deploy the press gang in North Shields, signed (I think) in 1809 – just as the War of the Fifth Coalition was about to kick off – by the *25 year old* Lord Palmerston who’d just been appointed Secretary at War.

I read somewhere that in around 1800 troops were deployed from Tynemouth Castle to surround North Shields so the local sailors couldn’t go and hide in the fields as was customary when the press gang was sent in …

Here’s the text:

By the Commissioners for Executing the Office of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, &c.

WHEREAS it is judged necessary for the more speedy manning His Majesty’s Ships, that a general Impress shall take place of all persons liable to serve on board His Majesty’s Fleet, without regard to any Protections granted by us, excepting however such Persons as are protected pursuant to Acts of Parliament, and all others whom by the Instructions which accompanied your Press Warrant you are forbidden to Impress, and also Men belonging to Vessels in the Service of the Navy, Victualling. Transport, or Ordnance Boards, or Corporation of Trinity House: You are hereby required and directed to take the necessary measures accordingly, with all possible secrecy, for making a general Impress of all Persons not protected under any of the circumstances abovementioned, and to continue so to do until you shall receive orders to the contrary, observing that not a moment is to be lost in carrying this Order into execution, and that we expect you will exert yourself to the utmost towards making it effectual.

If any of His Majesty’s Ships or Vessels, or any hired into His Service and Commanded by Commissioned Officers, shall be in the way, you are to communicate these Orders to their Commanders, under a strict injunction of Secrecy, and to settle a Plan with them and with any Officers employed by us on the Service of raising Men for His Majesty’s Fleet, who may be within your reach, that a General Prews as abovementioned may commence and be carried on at one and the same time, as well Afloat as on Shore, they being hereby required and directed to exert themselves in the execution thereof, and to co-operate with you in whatever may be necessary on the occasion.

Given under our Hands the day of April 1809.

Bickerton [first sea Lord]

Ward [?]


To: Captain Charlton, North Shields

By Command of the Lordships,

This is a Northumbrian folk song all about the dreaded press gang. Cutters were the hired thugs and weary means ‘wretched’. poetry submissions ad

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