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pejay
10-08-2005, 2:04 PM
not sure if this is the right forum,but it does indeed cover the napoleonic wars. i am looking for information on a john twizell, born 1787 in bedlington, northumberland and died in 1836 ,he was apparently pressganged, [don't know for how long] he eventually became a quartermaster before leaving the navy. and returning to life again as a fisherman. he apparently served on hms victory but i cannot find any details of him [ i have been on various websites pertaining to the battle of trafalgar but with no success] i know there were many other ships in the battle of trafalgar. but i haven't a clue as to if he could have been on one of them.i am told he had some sort of uniform, also a hat and a jack tar [i thought ordinary seamen - below decks so to speak didn't have uniforms.] - can anyone please help, i have no further information on him. i don't know much about the subject of pressganging other than it involved accepting the kings shilling - and of course glass bottomed tankards! i unfortunately have no dates. he married in 1815 in tynemouth, so i assume he was not in the navy at that time. i would be very grateful for any help

AnnB
10-08-2005, 2:18 PM
A very good site for background on 'Nelson's Navy' can be found at http://www.nelsonsnavy.co.uk/ It should answer some of your questions, especially with regard to the Press Gang. Sorry I can't help with John Twizell.
Best wishes
Ann

pejay
11-08-2005, 12:44 PM
hi there, - thank you ann what a great website, i shall certainly use it for a long time, i am now more informed about pressgangs, it must have been very worrying if you lived near the coast, and it was obviously more common than i thought, what a way to get sailors!!

AnnB
11-08-2005, 1:26 PM
Glad to be of help :) As regards press gangs, the one thing you have to remember is that it really didn't pay the Navy to have too many men on board their ships who were 'landlubbers'. It was much better for them to take fishermen, merchant sailors, and even smugglers, as they all knew what to do at sea and how to handle a ship (even if they didn't want to be on a Naval vessel) So, although others were taken by the press gangs, they were very often the ones who ended up running away or being drowned :( It was also assumed that anyone living near the coast found it second nature being at sea ;)
Best wishes
Ann

Geoffers
11-08-2005, 2:29 PM
Ratings' services up to 1853 are searchable on TNA's online catalogue
http://www.catalogue.nationalarchives.gov.uk/default.asp
have you tried this yet? Enter the surname (try variant spellings, e.g. TWIZEL, TWIZZEL, TUEZZEL, etc) in the first field and in the field for department or series code, simply enter ADM (If you get any hits, they should be in ADM29).

If you are successful, you can apply for a copy online, using the full reference given

If interested in the subject, two good books are:
The Wooden World, an anatomy of the Georgian Navy - N.A.M.Rodger
Fortuna Press ISBN 0 00 686152 0
- and -
Life in Nelson's Navy - Dudley Pope
Chatham Publishing ISBN 1 86176 034 5


Geoffers

AnnB
11-08-2005, 2:52 PM
If interested in the subject, two good books are:
The Wooden World, an anatomy of the Georgian Navy - N.A.M.Rodger
Fortuna Press ISBN 0 00 686152 0
- and -
Life in Nelson's Navy - Dudley Pope
Chatham Publishing ISBN 1 86176 034 5


Geoffers
Couldn't agree more Geoffers, especially The Wooden World.

Another very good book on the subject is:
'Nelson's Navy' - Brian Lavery - Conway Press ISBN 0 85177 521 7

Best wishes
Ann

pejay
12-08-2005, 12:03 PM
hi, - and thank you all for your help and advice, the books i will try to get from my local library, even if they don't have them in they will be able to order them, they sound like they will be very informative i have tried the website address for the national archives,it is amazing how many ways you can spell twizell, i became quite inventive! however to date i am not having any luck on that one, - back to the drawing board for me and think of further ways to spell it [twizell]

Ianmac
21-09-2005, 9:33 PM
...he apparently served on hms victory but i cannot find any details of him [ i have been on various websites pertaining to the battle of trafalgar but with no success] i know there were many other ships in the battle of trafalgar. but i haven't a clue as to if he could have been on one of them.
There is a roll of those who took part in the Battle of Trafalgar and one place to search is on the National Archives site:
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/aboutapps/trafalgarancestors/
I did a quick search but couldn't find the name Twizell (including a couple of variations).
What may be a more complete roll, called the Ayshford Roll, is also available on CD ROM from the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth:
http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/Trafalgarrollseminar.htm

As a matter of interest I have a gr*4 uncle (John Stoddart) who was pressed, but eventually was murdered by the press gang in Newcastle in 1804, so just missing Trafalgar.

pejay
22-09-2005, 2:13 PM
hi there, and thanks for your reply, i am still looking for info on this guy, with no luck at the moment, apparently he had some sort of uniform, which i am told his family burnt on a beach. [i thought pressganged sailors didn't have uniforms though!] he also had a 'jack tar' which was kept for many years. i wondered could it all be 'pie in the sky' or down the years have wires got crossed about him? [i.e. - chinese whispers?]it seems he was definately pressganged at cresswell, northumberland, i have gone through various websites looking for him, i will have to remember the 'ayshford roll' on cd rom. and see how much it would cost to buy it. I have read some articles on pressed fishermen and the pressgang and how it appears to have been an accepted part of life at the time, how awful it must have been.

Pam Downes
24-09-2005, 10:23 PM
I know it's not quite Napoleonic Wars, but last night on 'Tales from the green valley' (BBC2 7.30 for 6 more weeks) in which four people are living life c1600, they said that Elizabeth I decreed that fish should be eaten three days a week. This was in order to increase the number of fishermen, i.e. increase the number of men who had sailing knowledge and could be called up for the navy. Obviously no flies on our Liz!

Pam Downes

Geoffers
25-09-2005, 9:06 AM
john twizell, born 1787 in bedlington, northumberland and died in 1836 ,he was apparently pressganged....he eventually became a quartermaster before leaving the navy. and returning to life again as a fisherman
If he began life as a fisherman, the following may seem relevant, taken from:
Life in Nelson's Navy - Dudley Pope
Chatham Publishing ISBN 1 86176 034 5

[Page 120]
"Fishermen working at sea had partial protection until 1801 - up to then the master one apprentice, one seaman and one landsmen were exempted (from impressment) in every sea-going fishing vessel. After 1801, in an attempt to save the fishing industry, anyone whose full-time ocupation was fishing was protected - and that included men working at curing and selling the fish as well."

Geoffers

pejay
25-09-2005, 7:11 PM
how interesting, did the press gang take notice of this partial protection, i wonder, or maybe they were more interested in earning their wages. what would happen if they bashed someone over the head in a dark alley, and the person woke the next day aboard a ship, out at sea,would it be a question of - oops sorry mate i didn't know you had protection, or would it be more hard luck mate, better luck next time. were press gangs really as bad as i have read or were they just trying to make a living? i read that fishermen would stay at home if they knew the press gang was about - i must say i would struggle to eat fish three times a week royal decree or not. very healthy though she obviously knew what she was talking about!

pejay
29-09-2005, 3:09 PM
i know this will sound a bit stupid, but i got to wondering, if a person was pressganged would they be allowed leave when the ship was in port? or would they have to wait until their time was up [so to speak] and if they were - what would then happen if they didn't go back?

Geoffers
30-09-2005, 1:21 PM
i know this will sound a bit stupid, but i got to wondering, if a person was pressganged would they be allowed leave when the ship was in port......and if they were - what would then happen if they didn't go back?You may have the impression that ships of the Navy were little more than floating prisons - this would be wrong. All that I have read suggests that conditions for sailors compared favourably with labouring occupation on land. The efficiency of a ship and the general ability of the fleet needed men to be fairly happy with their lot and this was well understood by the Admiralty. Each watch was a team whose members lives depended on the ability of others and their willingness to co-operate. A ship's voyage could last months or years, those who were pressed needed to be convinced to accept their situation by their crewmates, and conform for the benefit of all.

continued...

Geoffers
30-09-2005, 1:22 PM
part 2.....
Those pressed men who escaped, appear usually to have done so before they were taken on ship. Pressed men would be taken to a tender first and held there waiting transfer. If some did run then, nothing could be done about it. Some did scarper when they got the opportunity. Ship's muster rolls will mark up men as having been D, DD or R - Discharged, Discharged Dead, or Run. Those who deserted could be court-martialled if caught - penalties being mostly financial, but could be as severe as logging and hanging. It has been suggested that desertion amounted to about 7 per cent of total naval manpower.

Bear in mind that someone who was pressed would be taken onto a ship and the ship may then be gone to sea for months or years. After a few months, a pressed man may well have fitted in, learnt what was needed and accepted his lot. After a year, he may even have been promoted. Returning to port after a year at sea, most Captains would grant leave - it was in their interests to do so to maintain morale in a crew; even accepting that some would run. The disaffected souls who did run were perhaps those who didn't carry out their duties well anyway, and so wouldn't be a great loss - and someone who did run would have no money, as pay was given until a ship was paid off.
Geoffers

pejay
02-10-2005, 6:35 PM
Hi there - and thank you for your reply, you are right i did imagine them to be terrible places that were indeed little better than floating prisons and i assumed the life of a pressed fisherman was probably awful. the reason i asked is because a couple of his children were born whilst he was away at sea.
i imagined pressed men were young and single. he was 29 and married with 2 children. not that i am implying that 29 is not young, but i am a bit surprised,
as i could have understood it better perhaps if he was 18 or so. his rank was a master, would this be because he had his own small fishing boat?,i imagined everyone who was pressganged was an able bodied seaman, obviously i have a lot to learn,i do not feel that i can put this one to rest - so to speak at the moment, his years of service were 1798 - 1806, and if indeed he is an ancestor he served on several boats, some fairly small, again i imagined all navy boats to be huge like the hms victory, but he was on much smaller boats. [i thimk they were called brigs and cutters].

Geoffers
02-10-2005, 7:30 PM
I think the best thing to do is to look out for the books that have been mentioned; they are very interesting to read generally, the more so if you have ancestry at sea during this period.

Men served in ships of all different sizes in many places. Landmen, Seamen, those who lived on the coast and those who lived inland; at times no one was safe. Men in trade could somehow manage to miss being pressed if they were to provide the right sort of incentive to the pressgang to go elsewhere.

One other book which I can recommend without hesitation may no longer be in print. It is 'Mariners' Mealtimes & Other Daily Details of life on board a sailing warship.' by Una A Robertson and published by The Unicorn Preservation Trust. ISBN 0 907276 01 6. 'Tis only a silim booklet, worth hunting out in a library if nowhere else.

Geoffers

pejay
05-10-2005, 2:49 PM
hi there, and thanks for your reply, i have made a note of the book, and will try to order it from the library along with the others.

emmteeyess
21-03-2011, 4:45 PM
[ i have been on various websites pertaining to the battle of trafalgar but with no success]
- can anyone please help,

I've obviously come v.late to this post! (like 6 years late!) but I'm just getting hooked on Nelson's era, and was backtracking thru previous posts -

I've found this book good reading - Trafalgar Geordies - and North Country Seamen of Nelsonís Navy 1793-1815
by Tony Barrow - published by North East Press.

- there's a chapter on 'The Press' and it also lists 'Geordies' who were at Trafalgar and the ship they were on.

Even if you can't see your man it'll still be a good background read to life in Nelson's navy, and at 100odd pages isn't too arduous a read!

Sorry I can't do a simple look-up for you but I've since given the book back as it was only on loan to me.

Cheers, MTS

pejay
27-03-2011, 2:22 PM
Only found your reply by accident, many thanks. I have made a note of the book, author & publisher - it sounds interesting. I should be able to get hold of a copy hopefully.

Rogers
28-03-2011, 6:45 AM
What an era to investigate! I seem to recal reading fishermen were exempt from the "Press" but perhaps like merchant seamen, they could be pressed only when they were homeward bound. There is a great deal of nonsence talked about men being pressed & it is more likely experienced seamen like fishermen would have been volunteers & so advanced quicly in the RN. The pay was in comparison good especialy for Petty Officers & the conditions certainly no more ardious than those of a fisherman of those times. 1815 was as you will know the end of the Napolionic war & the gratefull government of the time would, as they always do, "downsized" ASAP, the heroes of Waterloo & Salamaca along wth those of The Nile & Trafalgar. The RN has good records if you have Rank Name & Number & the name of His ship would, I would think, make it easy to trace. If He did indeed serve at Trafalgar He would have been entitled to a medal especialy struck for those who served at it. The catch to Him getting one though is that He had to be alive in I think, 1870 (dont quote me on that one) and to have made application for it, no doubt after filling in a small library of forms, to receive it. They had the same multitude of Sir Humpreys then as beset us now. The uniform you write of was standard issue. Quatermaster is the bloke who does the steering so He was a steady resposible seaman. His next step up the promotion ladder would I think have been to Masters mate a very responsible position. He could have had His final Pay Off at Tynemouth which would hve been a busy port in those times, hence His "tying the knot and swollowing the anchor". Sailors didn't Take the shilling only soldiers did, seamen where given a "Note"presumably to buy their gear for sea & perhaps leave for their dependents untill they could make alotments for them to be paid whilst they where at sea. Most if not all of the Note was usually "crimped"either ashore or on the ship. Good luck with your search & dont forget to post your findings. R.

pejay
28-03-2011, 3:39 PM
Hi many thanks for your reply and info.I still have not managed to get my head around this one - even after all this time! It started off as a tale a long time ago that an ancestor had been pressganged during the Napoleon war. I decided it was a mistake - chinese whispers -oral history call it what you will. But it keeps coming back with different snippets each time. I have ruled out he was on Trafalgar and indeed I have checked the crew list. The latest snippet I had was he was on one of Collingwood's ships. How true this is I do not know But I do get the uniform & jack tar constantly. I think I will start again and try to lay this one to rest.