Comments: 10
Not as grim as the enforced castrato choirs...
BrokenTune 2 years ago
True.
Still pretty grim, though.
... and not quite as grim, perhaps, as being pressed into service on a ship or in the military (or into factory work, two centuries later).

One really wonders how big a percentage of jobs done by adults in former times did not result from their family associations (like trades being passed from father to son) nor from the incredibly happy situation of being free to choose to begin with, but simply from the fact that they'd been pressed into the profession as kids and had simply had to make this their life forever after.
BrokenTune 2 years ago
Indeed.

I still find it incredible how widespread press-gangs were and how they did not lead to a revolt by the people.
I guess the people who were never going to be pressed (being a majority) preferred press gangs to Napoleon...
BrokenTune 2 years ago
But it wasn't just during the Napoleonic wars.

Pressgangs and kidnappings were also used to provide a workforce to the colonies.

This one might be of interest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Williamson_(memoirist)

It made me grin, not only because it sounds a lot like something the City Council would do, but also because of the establishment of the postal service in Edinburgh.
@Arbie: *Were* they (the ones who were never going to be pressed) the majority? That's precisely the question. One reason why we know so little about the life of the unprivileged is because they couldn't write, and they only ever figured incidentally in the life stories of those who could.

@BT: Exactly. Revolutions may be triggered by one particular thing, and they tend to be portrayed as being chiefly "about" that one thing later on, but what brings things to a boil is usually a whole mix of issues that have fermented and are simply boiling over if there is one provocation too many. I wouldn't be surprised if press gangs were somewhere in the mix there, too. In and of themselves, they might have been something the poor endured because they had no way of fighting back. But add them to the multitude of things making their lives miserable, and there comes a point where all you need is bread prices going up and someone privileged unguardedly saying "qu'ils mangent des brioches", and someone else stirring the pot so as to make sure it reaches a boiling point -- and boom.
Re: Williamson: What a life story ...
Well, all women and all "gentlemen" were never pressed, so yes, they were the majority.