. 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.