- King's shilling
The King's shilling - for many years a soldier's daily pay, before stoppages - was the
shillinggiven to recruitsof the British armyand the Royal Navyof the 18th and 19th centuries. The expression "to take the King's shilling" meant that a man agreed to serve as a soldier or sailor.
Recruiters of the time used all sorts of tricks, most involving strong drink, to press the shilling on unsuspecting victims. The man did not formally become a soldier until attested before a
Justice of the Peace, and could still escape his fate by paying his recruiter "smart money" before attestation. In the 1840's this amounted to £1 (twenty shillings), a sum most recruits were unlikely to have at hand.
One trick supposedly employed by press gangs was to slip the shilling into a drink. If the prospective soldier drank the drink to the bottom (so that the shilling was now visible), it was taken as a sign that they had accepted Impressment. It is believed that glass bottomed Tankards became popular as a result of this practice. This, however, is a myth. Recruiters were subject to fines if they used trickery in order to recruit civilians. Also, men who signed up to serve in the military were given a four day 'cooling off' period, during which they were permitted to change their minds.
Recruitment in the British Army
*cite book | author=Holmes, Richard | title=The Oxford Companion to Military History | publisher =Oxford University Press | year=2001 | id=
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