Press Gangs in York

Press-ganging, when men were forced to join the military, was something feared by many across the country in the eighteenth century, especially those living in port areas. York was no exception, in 1777 a press-gang came to York looking for “volunteers” of anyone between 18 and 55. Men were often signed up for years against their will, and often men under the age of 18 and over the age of 55 were also taken.

On the 26th January 1777 there was a minor uprising in the city against the actions of the Lord Mayor, who had sanctioned the press-gangs to look for men in York. He was sent an anonymous letter threatening to burn down both his house and also the Mansion House if any men were taken by the press-gangs. The City Corporation offered 100 guineas reward to anyone would could identify the sender, but the culprit wasn’t found.