As Britain was in the midst of a highly threatening war with France and its allies Spain and the Netherlands, deadly issues were posed by serious mutinies in the British fleet in 1797, a topic well explored by James Davey in Tempest: The Royal Navy and the Age of Revolutions. These mutinies occurred against a background of lengthy and arduous service, and of the acute governmental need for manning that had led to the Recruiting (“Quota”) Acts of 1795 and 1796 and the Navy Act of 1795, which were intended to co-opt local government into the process of signing on seamen. Moreover, aside from the burdens of naval service and, far more, impressment, sailors faced uncertainties created by the variations in shipboard discipline and by naval pay and pensions, not least as government finances tottered. Drawing strength from the strong occupational identity of sailors, their...


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