ROBERT ALSOP, A MIDSHIPMAN, AND SIX SEAMEN
Convicted in 1755 for committing a Riot in the City of London, and impressing a Citizen thereof, but treated leniently in order that they might fight against France
A PRESS-GANG in the year 1755, in a riotous manner, forced themselves into the house of Mr William Godfrey, a citizen of good repute and a cooper, of the City of London. They knocked him down and dragged him through the streets with only one slipper on, and thus forcibly put him on board a King's ship in the River Thames. There he was confined in the hold among a number of other subjects, where there was a suffocating stench, the effects of which long endangered his life. Twelve hours was he thus confined, to the scandal, as the printed accounts of this lawless baseness of the time said, of all government, and in derogation of the rights and privileges of the City of London. At length, the Lord Mayor exercising his authority, Mr Godfrey was released, and his friends set about the laudable task of bringing those spoilers to condign punishment.
Robert Alsop, William Sturges, John Dodsey, Frederick Offler, James Williamson, Charles Powell and Benjamin Tidsdale, a part of this press-gang, were indicted, and committed to prison.
Being brought to trial at the Guildhall of the City of London, Sturges and Dodsey, having surrendered themselves, and pleading for mercy, were acquitted; but the others were found guilty.
While the Court was deliberating on the punishment to be inflicted on them some officers of Government interceded, and prayed that their country might not long be deprived of their services against the French, then at war with us; and in consequence thereof, and on their knees suing for mercy, backed by Mr Godfrey's generous forgiveness, they were sentenced to only ten days' imprisonment.