bill against <pressing soldiers>

park sang joon

Senior Member
Korean
Previous to the innovations introduced by the Tudors, and which had been taken away by the bill against pressing soldiers, the King in himself had no power of calling on his subjects generally to bear arms.

<Source: 'And who'; 'and which' in The King’s English, 2nd ed by H.W. Fowler http://www.bartleby.com/116/206.html>

I'd like to know whether "pressing soldiers" indicates "soldiers who pressed the public" or "that a king pressed soldiers."
Thank you in advance for your help.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    To press soldiers means to recruit soldiers by force or by deception.

    I assume that the bill against pressing soldiers forbade such action, whoever did it. It was typically a press-gang of existing soldiers that recruited young civilians by getting them drunk, but I have no doubt there were other methods.
     

    gramman

    Senior Member
    >>I'd like to know whether "pressing soldiers" indicates "soldiers who pressed the public" or "that a king pressed soldiers."

    As Keith has indicated, the king presses subjects into service. It's a second meaning for press:

    to force into service, esp. military service — WR dictionary

    The etymology is near the bottom of this page (v.2): Online Etymology Dictionary

    >>I have no doubt there were other methods.

    But it was a grand life. ☺
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The etymology is near the bottom of this page (v.2): Online Etymology Dictionary

    The Oxford English Dictionary gives more information on the etymology.
    It apparently has two elements. The first is the verb 'to prest' (from Latin praesto, 'to offer a loan'), meaning the civilian is offered money as an advance on pay for the job as soldier or sailor.
    If he takes the money (which a drunk young man might well do), he is deemed to have enlisted and he is immediately under military authority and can be taken by force if he refuses to go with the recruitment squad.
    The second is the ordinary verb 'to press', meaning 'to urge or force'. This verb form has taken over from the original 'to prest'.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Try an internet search on this phrase (without using quotation marks): 'impressed soldiers sailors'.
    You will need to pick out the relevant examples, but there are enough of them.
     
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