The Navy as Penitentiary
The problem of manning the fleet during the French Revolutionary Wars led to two 1795 Parliamentary Acts, which required justices to condemn convicted lesser criminals to serve in the Royal Navy. Three kinds of offenders were singled out, the unemployed, the unemployable and most importantly for the Navy, smugglers. The attraction of smugglers was that they were probably proficient seafarers and would make an immediate contribution. In conclusion Senior relates the story of John Miller, a fisherman of Bexhill, who was condemned to serve five years with the fleet for the possession of contraband goods.