2. This contention is subject to qualification: “It is quite certain that the Crown had the power to impress mariners for the navy. The statutes of the Long Parliament which provided for their impressment practically assume this. There is no recital in them that impressment is contrary to the liberty of the subject; and . . . they would have contained such a recital, if Parliament had thought the practice illegal.” 4 Holdsworth, History of English Law
329. “[T]he compulsion of men to go beyond or upon the sea, or otherwise imprisoning them, or compelling men to take prest
money, or otherwise imprison them hath been, I Confess, a practice long in use.” 1 Hale, Pleas of the Crown
678. And, for a thorough contemporary review of the law, see Rex v. Broadfoot, Foster, Crown Cases
154 (Recorder's Court, Bristol 1743). Mr. Recorder (later Mr. Justice) Foster admitted that he knew “of no Statute now in force, which directly and in express Terms impowereth the Crown to press Mariners into the Service. And admitting that the Prerogative is grounded on immemorial Usage, I know of no Necessity for any such Statute.” Id.
at 168. Authority to impress was usually conveyed by Admiralty warrant issued pursuant to Orders in Council. Id.
at 154–155. No warrant in the name of Panton, or Captain Caldwell of the Rose has been found. Since the Crown did not urge the warrant as a basis for Panton's actions, there may have been none.