What is the King’s Shilling?

Introduction The King’s shilling, known as the Queen’s shilling when the Sovereign is female, is a historical slang term referring to the earnest payment of one shilling given to recruits to the Armed forces of the United Kingdom in the 18th and 19th centuries, although the practice dates back to the end of the English… Read More


What was the Knowles Riot (1747)?

Introduction The Knowles Riot, also known as the Impressment Riot of 1747, was a three-day riot in Boston that began on 17 November 1747, in response to the impressment of 46 Bostonians by Admiral Charles Knowles into the navy. Hundreds of mostly working-class rioters rampaged through Boston, paralysed the provincial government, and captured several naval… Read More

What was the Quota System (Royal Navy)?

Introduction The Quota System (also known as The Quod), introduced by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger in 1795, required each English county to provide a quota of men for the Royal Navy, based on its population and the number of its seaports: London, for example, had to provide 5,704 quotamen while Yorkshire had to… Read More

What is Impressment?

Introduction Impressment, colloquially “the press” or the “press gang”, is the taking of men into a military or naval force by compulsion, with or without notice. European navies of several nations used forced recruitment by various means. The large size of the British Royal Navy in the Age of Sail meant impressment was most commonly… Read More