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PRESSGANGED

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picture credit -allposters.co.uk.i

In the 18th and 19th century the Royal Navy used impressment to maintain  crew levels on British warships.

Gangs of about ten sailors would go ashore and wait by inns in coastal towns and then forcibly take men to join their ships, often brute force was used and the pressgangs as they became known were feared by many.

I was walking home from the inn one night
Along the cobbled streets home to my wife 
Ten sailors' jumped out and gave me a fright
They had coshes' and I feared for my life.

I felt sharp pain on the back of my head 
It went dark and I fell down on the ground
Before I passed out I was full of dread 
Another victim the pressgang had found.

Next morning I woke tied at the ships mast
The main sail above me flapped in the breeze 
An officer said you'd better learn fast 
You are the kings now so him you will please. 

I  looked over the side, we were at sea
Freedom I once had was taken from me.

Written on 24th November 2018.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2018




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Date: 12/11/2018 11:59:00 AM
Hello Tom, A great story here indeed!! And, wondrously articulated sonnet too!! I know this Royal Navy "Impressment" had been used, at times, when America was a very young country, and I believe also, during the War of 1812. America's naval tradition today, and our Army too, are both deeply rooted in the traditions and operational influence from the British Navy and Army -- and the closest of allies we shall always remain!! Enjoyed your sonnet very much here!! Cheers, Gary
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 12/11/2018 12:22:00 PM
Thank you Gary, although it was a worldwide practise the Royal navy were notorious for it. Thankfully conditions on Navy ships improved and with better pay and a pension the impressment died out. Happy you.enjoyed it. Tom.
Date: 12/11/2018 11:09:00 AM
Hi Tom, I marvel at your imagination, truly you have been blessed! Frightening that this used to happen - wonderful poem Tom, Best wishes, Jennifer
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 12/11/2018 12:16:00 PM
Thank you Jennifer, imagine going out for a few tankards of ale and waking the next day with a sore head on a ship. Tom.
Date: 11/26/2018 9:02:00 PM
Crikey Tom … and these were the good old days. A shiver shot up my spine - thanks Mat - Lindsay
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/27/2018 3:02:00 AM
Thankfully conditions improved and men started to volunteer so the press gang faded into history. Tom.
Date: 11/26/2018 3:21:00 PM
Oh my! This type of thing really happened? Thanks for the history lesson written in such an amusing poem. Enjoyed very much, Tom. Hugs, Carolyn
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/27/2018 3:00:00 AM
Terrible times back then, everything was for the taking even peoples freedom. Hope you had a nice thanksgiving celebration. Tom.
Date: 11/26/2018 3:18:00 AM
- A freedom stolen ... a great story, Tom :) - hugs // Anne-Lise :)
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/26/2018 3:46:00 AM
Thank you Sunshine, they were dark times back then. Tom.
Date: 11/26/2018 2:46:00 AM
Another great moment you have captured from history! The wife and children wondering what happened to their loved one. A fave! tom!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/26/2018 3:49:00 AM
Thank you Kim, yes, it must have been awful for families and many never saw their families again, conditions on ships at that time were atrocious with disease, strict discipline and wars taking their toll. Tom.
Date: 11/26/2018 2:04:00 AM
I loved this, in Scotland is was a wee bit easier, they waited for the drunks to fall asleep and then simply carried them onto the ships!! :)
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/26/2018 3:44:00 AM
You'd come round the next morning still swaying with the motion of the sea, when reality hit they soon sobered up. Tom.
Date: 11/26/2018 1:19:00 AM
As though experiences of the past revived and come to life! Wonderfully done my friend, Tom! Are you certain it is ...fiction! Haha
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/26/2018 3:42:00 AM
Thanks Demetrios, I do love the sea and sometimes it does make you wonder. Tom.
Date: 11/25/2018 4:28:00 PM
I enjoyed this Tom nice write! ~Mike
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/26/2018 3:41:00 AM
Thank you Mike, glad you liked it. Tom.
Date: 11/25/2018 9:44:00 AM
ditto all that has been said. and this flows nicely :)
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 11:04:00 AM
Thanks very much P.S. Tom.
Date: 11/25/2018 8:54:00 AM
Great sonnet Tom!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 11:03:00 AM
Thank you S.O. Tom.
Date: 11/25/2018 7:16:00 AM
Hello Tom, I like this poem you have created. I use to watch Long John Sliver on tv, I enjoyed the adventures. Have a nice day my friend.
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Darlene De Beaulieu
Date: 11/26/2018 12:17:00 PM
Oh-hh.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 7:24:00 AM
Thank you very much Darlene, another good series was Black Sails about pirates in Nassua. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 9:34:00 PM
Tom, you are the Dean of the History Department at Poetry Soup U... Thanks for the education. :) gw
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 7:22:00 AM
Thanks Gershon, I like researching a historical event then composing a rhyme. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 8:48:00 PM
This sounds like something precursor to President Trump that we now hve to live with.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 7:16:00 AM
Haha, Looks like you've all been pressganged James. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 6:54:00 PM
that was very interesting for me because I had not heard of it before. I am really into Outlander and a similar thing happened on a recent episode of that show. Some pirates beat up the main characters to take possession of a ruby that they wanted from those people. This was after the main characters had treated the pirate guy very nice and saved his life. There is no honor among thieves,
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 7:14:00 AM
There certainly isn't Andrea, Now that's a programme I haven't seen. Sounds like my kind of series. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 5:50:00 PM
Wonderfully written sonnet and history lesson as well.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/25/2018 7:11:00 AM
Thank you Wren. Happy you liked it. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 4:49:00 PM
Awesome, Tom, love the sonnet, and the history you weave into it..
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 4:53:00 PM
Thank you Harry, I do enjoy composing historical verse. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 2:00:00 PM
Nicely done... great sonnet.
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Pashang Salehi
Date: 11/25/2018 3:22:00 AM
You bet...
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 4:27:00 PM
Thank you very much Pashang, Regards. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 1:57:00 PM
ohh, this engrossing poem allowed me to discover something new--impressment...impressive, tom.. huggs
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 4:26:00 PM
Thanks Nette, it was used by other countries too but the Royal Navy was famous for it. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 1:48:00 PM
fabulous sonnet Tom, I do so enjoy your historical writes:-) hugs Jan xx
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 4:24:00 PM
Thanks Jan, there was an incident on the I.O.M. at Balkacraine where the press gang tried to 'Recruit ' some Manxmen and in the fight that followed one of the press gang died, its known as the battle of Balacraine. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 11:20:00 AM
Tom, oh what a great storyteller you are, I never knew this part of history, how horrible it must have been back then, Well done ~
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 4:11:00 PM
Thanks Dear Heart, terrible times for sure, in a way it was a form of slavery. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 11:20:00 AM
Gosh, I hadn’t heard about this, I thought they just slipped the king’s shilling into your pint. Fab and funducational!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 4:09:00 PM
They say that by accepting the shilling you had signed up for service, they say glass bottomed tankards' were made because of it. Usually they'd wait until people left the inns in sometimes a drunken state then pounce. People living rough were targeted too. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 9:27:00 AM
Hi Tom, it was indeed a dangerous time to live. So many souls pressganged, learn to be a sailor or overboard you would go. It would have been so frightening. You have tiurned a leaf from history's pages with this wonderful sonnet Tom. You capture moments so well. Have a wonderful Saturday. Your friend always....Mike.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 9:47:00 AM
Thank you Mike, as conditions on ships improved impressment slowly died out and with better pay and a pension at the the end recruitment improved so the Pressgangs faded into history. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 9:22:00 AM
An enjoyable poem, Tom. The novel "Sylvia's Lovers" (I forgot the author) was partly based on impressment. Regards // paul
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 9:43:00 AM
Thank you Paul, just googled it (Elizabeth Gaskell) it looks an interesting read, of course sailors like the whalers in the book were ideal candidates being experienced sailors. They must have been frigtening times indeed. Tom.
Date: 11/24/2018 8:26:00 AM
Tom, I had not ever heard of this before. A very interesting write of history in a Sonnet. Excellent!!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/24/2018 9:38:00 AM
Thanks Mike, something else they would do is slip a Kings shilling into an unsuspecting drinkers pint of ale and say he'd accepted money so was carted off to the ship. As a result they made tankards with a glass bottom so people could see if anything had been put in. Many times friends would step in to help friends and bloody battles would break out in the streets. Tom.
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