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The Journals of David Talbot: The Press Gang, 1810

Posted by Chris Davidson, on July 17th, 2023


This is an extract from the journals of David Talbot, a seafarer from Arbroath, Scotland. He was born in 1784 and went to sea as an apprentice in 1799. He then became a mate on Arbroath brigs trading in the Baltic. In 1808 their ship was impounded in Lebau, in what is now Latvia but then under Russian control. This was because Russia had just changed sides in the Napoleonic Wars. The crew were held for a year and when released, Talbot sailed with an American ship. This ship was damaged and put in to Copenhagen, where Talbot was again imprisoned. He escaped and made his way back to Arbroath.

After his impressment described below, he served in a Man o’ War, HMS Calliope, mostly along the Dutch coast with raids along the coast and rivers. When he heard that his ship might be sailing to America, he escaped again, this time making his way to Rotterdam. He returned home after nearly five years away. He then resumed to his merchant maritime career, captaining ships that sailed to the Caribbean and Canada before owning his own ship in 1831. His voyages from then on were in the Mediterranean, Baltic, Black and White Seas. David Talbot had many adventures throughout his seafaring career. He retired in the early 1850s and wrote his journals.


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