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The Napoleon Series > Government > Governments and Politics



The Acts, Orders in Council, &c. of Great Britain [on Trade], 1793 - 1812


A Proclamation for recalling and prohibiting British seamen from serving foreign Princes and States.

George R.

Whereas, it hath been represented to us, that great numbers of mariners and seafaring men, our natural born subjects, have been enticed to enter into the service of foreign States, and are now actually serving as well on board the ships of war belonging to the said foreign States, as on board merchant vessels belonging to their subjects, notwithstanding our former proclamation recalling them, contrary to the duty and allegiance which our said subjects owe unto us, and to the great disservice of their native country; we have, therefore, thought it necessary, at the present moment, when our kingdom is menaced and endangered, and when the maritime rights on which its power and greatness do mainly depend, are disputed and called into question, to publish, by and with the advice of our privy council, this our royal proclamation: We do hereby strictly charge and command all masters of ships, pilots, mariners, shipwrights, and other seafaring men, being our natural born subjects, who may have been enticed into the pay or service of any foreign State, or do serve in any foreign ship or vessel, that forthwith they, and every one of them, do, (according to their bounden duty and allegiance, and in consideration that their native country hath need of all their services,) withdraw themselves, and depart from, and quit such foreign service, and do return home to their native country; or do enter on board such of our ships of war as they may chance to fall in with, either on the high seas, or in any rivers, waters, havens, roads, ports, or places whatsoever or wheresoever.

And for the better execution of the purposes of this our royal proclamation, we do authorize and command all captains, masters, and others, commanding our ships and vessels of war, to stop and make stay of all and every such person and persons (being our natural born subjects) as shall endeavor to transport or enter themselves into the service of any foreign State, contrary to the intent and command of this our royal proclamation, and to seize upon, take, and bring away all such persons as aforesaid, who shall be found to be employed or serving in any foreign merchant ship or vessel as aforesaid; but we do strictly enjoin all such, our captains, masters, and others, that they do permit no man to go on board such ships and vessels belonging to States at amity with us, for the purpose of so seizing upon, taking, and bringing away such persons aforesaid, for whose discreet and orderly demeanor the said captains cannot answer; and that they do take especial care that no unnecessary violence be ever done or offered to the vessel, or to the remainder of the crew, from out of which such persons shall be taken.

And in case of their receiving information of any such person or persons being employed, or serving on board of any ship of war belonging to such foreign State at amity with us, we do authorize and command our captains, masters, and others commanding our ships of war, to require of the captain or commander of such foreign ship of war, that he do forthwith release and discharge such person or persons, being our natural born subject or subjects; and if such release and discharge shall be refused, then to transmit information of such refusal to the commander-in-chief of the squadron, under whose orders such captain or commander shall then be serving; which information the said commander-in-chief is hereby strictly directed and enjoined to transmit, with the least possible delay, to our minister residing at the seat of Government of that State to which the said foreign ship of war shall belong, or to our Lord High Admiral, or Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, for the time being, in order that we, being apprized of such proceeding, may forthwith direct the necessary steps to be taken for obtaining redress from the Government to which such foreign ship of war shall belong, for the injury done to us by the unwarranted detention of our natural born subjects in the service of a foreign State.�

And whereas, it hath been further represented unto us, that divers mariners and seafaring men, our natural born subjects, have been induced to accept letters of naturalization, or certificates of citizenship, from foreign States, and have been taught to believe that, by such letters or certificates they were discharged from that duty of allegiance which, as our natural born subjects, they owe to us: Now we do hereby warn all such mariners and seafaring men, and others, our natural born subjects, that no such letters of naturalization, or certificates of citizenship, do or can in any manner divest our natural born subjects of the allegiance, or in any degree alter the duty which they owe to us, their lawful Sovereign.� But in consideration of the error into which such mariners and seafaring men as aforesaid may have been led, we do hereby publish and declare our free pardon to all such, our subjects, who, repenting of the delusion under which they have acted, shall immediately, upon knowledge of this our royal proclamation, withdraw themselves from foreign service, and return to their allegiance to us; and we do declare that all such, our natural born subjects, who shall continue in the service of foreign States, in disregard and contempt of this our royal proclamation, will not only incur our just displeasure, but are liable to be proceeded against for such contempt, and shall be proceeded against accordingly; and we do hereby declare, that if any such masters of ships, pilots, mariners, seamen, shipwrights, and other seafaring men, (being our natural born subjects) shall be taken in any foreign service by the Algerians, or other Barbary Powers, and carried into slavery, they shall not be reclaimed by us as subjects of Great Britain.

And we do hereby notify that all such, our subjects, as aforesaid, who have voluntarily entered, or shall enter, or voluntarily continue to serve, on board of any ships of war belonging to any foreign State at enmity with us, are and will be guilty of high treason; and we do, by this proclamation, declare that they shall be punished with the utmost severity of the law.

Given at our court at the Queen's Palace, the sixteenth day of October, one thousand eight hundred and seven, and in the forty-seventh year of our reign. God save the King.


Placed on the Napoleon Series April 2003


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