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Press Gang

Press Gang
Illustration Copyright Chris Pallace, 2005.
Drawn for Skallywaggs card game.

Press Gang. Why a mug of ale? Funny you should ask. Now a pirate, a real pirate who needed crew wouldn't have bothered, but the Queen's Royal Navy… there's a different story. The RN was just as unscrupulous any pirate when they needed crew, but by the queen's own decree a Press gang Master could not force you to join the Navy. You had to first accept the 'Queen's Shilling' as a recruitment fee.

That might be well and good for the queen, but the Navy's got work to do! Here's how they got around it. A few boys from the ships go out and buy drinks for a few likely lads. When they get'em good and drunk, the Press Gang master hands them another round. Only this one's got a shiny silver coin at the bottom of it. As the poor lad drains his glass he sees the 'Queen's Shilling' winking up at him and BAM! Welcome to the Navy.

Apparently this practice was so commonplace that the folk retaliated by making glass bottom mugs. “Bottoms Up” is not a rousing shout to slam one down, rather a warning to check for a Press Gang's coin.

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