Press Gang - Richard Sellars says,
"I was pressed between Scarbrough piers in the time of the last two engagements betweenthe Dutch and English in the year 1665, and refusing to go on board the ketch, they beat me sore on the sands and then hoisted me in with a tackle, so that I fell backward into a tub and was maimed,This ketch pressed for the ship called the 'Royal Prince.' From thence we sailed to Burlington Bay, then to the Buoy and the Nore, where they hauled me in at a gun port. The next day they commanded me to go to work at the capstan, when I refused; then they commanded me to go to the steward for my victuals, this I also refused, and told them that as I was not free to do the king's work so I would not live at his charge. Then the boatswain beat, me sore. The captain sent for me on the quarter-deck, and asked why Irefused to fight for the king, and why I declined to eat of his victuals. So I told him I was afraid to offend God, therefore I could not fight with carnal weapons. Then he fell upon me and beat me. Then came one Thomas Horner, and said 'I pray you, noble captain, be merciful, for I know him to be an honest man.'
Then said the captain,
'He is a Quaker and I will beat his brains out,'
and calling for the boatswain bade him
'take the Quakerly dog away and put him to the capstan.'
On the third day after came the admiral, Sir Edward Spragge, on board his own ship the Royal Prince, and hearing that a man that was pressed on board, and called a Quaker, had been beaten much, and that the boatswain's mate had refused to beat him any more, he called for the latter to answer for himself. After hearing his reasons the admiral told him he must lose his cane and give up his place, both of which he willingly yielded up. The commander then sent for me on to the quarter-deck, and commanded the boatswain to call the ship's companies together, and to make ready the irons. When all were ready the commander, Sir Edward Spragge, said,
'Gentlemen, sailors, and soldiers, and whosoever sails under me for the king, on board his Majesty's ship the Royal Prince, the Admiral of the Blue, take notice there is a man called a Quaker, who is to be laid in irons during the king's pleasure and mine, for refusing to fight and to eat of the king's victuals; therefore I charge you all and every man, that none of you sell or give him any victuals, meat, drink, or water, for if you do, you shall have the same punishment.'
So this being called three times, the boatswain was commanded to put me in irons, nevertheless the carpenter's mate shewed me much kindness when in irons; but two other prisoners so illused me that the lieutenant went one night to the state cabin door to tell the admiral. Whereupon he bid him. go to the yeoman that had the keys to take me out of the bilboes, and to call a council of war, which was done. Then the captains of the other ships all came on board by eight o'clock next morning, to attend the council. So I being brought before them, the commander asked me if I would go on board a Hoy, that was a tender, and carried guns. This I declined and desired to stay on board and abide my punishment; then he bid the council of war go on with their business, and sentence of death was passed on me. Then presently came an ancient soldier and loosed his knee strings, and put down his stockings, and put his cap under his knees and begged his honour's pardon three times. Then said the admiral
'rise up soldier and speak,'
which he did, pleading for me earnestly, as acting conscientiously, and desiring in conclusion to be permitted to go off on board, for after such an execution he should not be willing to serve his Majesty on board his ship any longer. In like manner did the chief gunner.
Then the commander desired me to go down and take leave of my friends, and gave orders that any that had a mind to give me victuals might. The next morning being come, on which I had to be executed about eight o'clock, the rope being reeved upon the mizen yard-arm, and the boy ready to turn me off; the captains of the other ships having come on board, I was thereupon called to come to be executed, so I stepped on board the gunwale to go forward to the rope. The commander bid me stop there if I had anything to say. Then he added
'silence, all men,'
and proclaimed the Quaker was a free man as any on board the ship. So the men heaved up their hats and with a loud voice cried
'God bless Sir Edward, he is a merciful man,'
the shrouds and tops being full of men." Great kindness was now shewn to Richard Sellars by all. Some days after, the ship was in an engagement with the Dutch fleet, when Sellars perceiving the ship was in danger of being stranded, pointed it out to the pilot, who called two of the best men to heave the lead, when they cried out
"five fathoms and a quarter," then the pilot shouted "Starboard your helm," but the commander cried, "Larboard and bring her too." The pilot called the leadman, who answered "quarter less two."
The outcry of the men and officers now became great, because the ship was so near the ground and the enemy close upon them. The commander then called out,
"We shall have our Royal Prince aground; take your charge, pilot,"
Then the men cried "five fathom and better depth," then six, then nine, and then fifteen, sixteen, &c. Whilst the battle continued, Sellars amid the fire and smoke perceived a fire-ship coming down on the starboard bow, and gave warning so as to avert it. The fight continued, and his employment was to carry down the wounded and to look out for fire-ships. After the battle the commander remarked,
"It would have been a great pity had his life been taken before the engagement."
Eight days after they were again engaged with the Dutch, after which they sailed for the Buoy and the Nore, where the king came on board, then the commander laying his hand upon Sellars said,
"Thou hast done well and shalt have thy liberty,"
and calling the captain directed him to write out a certificate, which he signed and wished him well at home.
From Bakers History of Scarborough