Press Gang As I walked out on London Street A press gang there I chanced to meet They asked me if I'd join the fleet On board of a man-o-war, boys Come brother shipmates tell to me What kind of treatment they give you That I may know before I go On board of a man-o-war, boys When I got there to my surprise All they had told me was shocking lies There was a row and a jolly old row On board of a man-o-war, boys The first thing they done they took me in hand They lashed me with a ?tar of a strand? They flogged me till I could not stand On board of a man-o-war, boys Now I was married and me wife's name was Grace 'Twas she that led me to shocking disgrace It's oft I'd curse her ugly face On board of a man-o-war, boys When next I get may foot on shore To see them London girls once more I'll never go to sea no more On board of a man-o-war, boys recorded by Ewan MacColl on "Black And White" (1982) "From medieval times, the English crown claimed the power to press able-bodied subjects into the navy for the defense of the realm. With the passage of time, the power was abused and the press gang, invading the small towns and roaming the countryside, became a truly feared 'tradition', as witnessed by the scores of press gang songs. In 1853 the long service system was introduced and the need for press gangs virtually disappeared." MJ
Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!