With Britain at war with Napoleonic France, invasion fears were growing. By the spring of 1805 the country was braced. The Royal Navy was vital for the defence of the realm but, as ever, was short of personnel. Press gangs were active in coastal areas. With good reason, they were feared and resented.
According to the Norfolk Annals, “an impressment took place at Yarmouth. Ships’ parties stopped every person they met without discrimination or respect for appearances. No fewer than 300 people were impressed.
“Some were confined in the rendezvous of the town gang, others were marched to the barracks or conveyed to the boats lying in readiness at the jetty, and the whole body were carried during the night on to HMS Monmouth. Next morning a regulation took place, and 50 only were detained.”