Habeas Corpus and Military and Naval Impressment, 1756-1816

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Title: Habeas Corpus and Military and Naval Impressment, 1756-1816
Authors: Costello, Kevin
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/6059
Date: 7-Jul-2008
Abstract: At the start of the Seven Years War in 1756, there occurred an unexpected increase in the demand by impressed soldiers and sailors for habeas corpus. This increased usage occurred in spite of the fact that habeas corpus was a deficient mechanism of judicial review: the scope of review was limited to formal defects appearing on the face of the return; it was unclear whether there was jurisdiction to issue the writ during the extensive times that the court was out of term; and there was no power to issue process of contempt in vacation for disobedience of the writ. Notwithstanding these defects (and the rejection by the House of Lords in 1758 of a habeas corpus bill drafted in order to remedy those faults) the custom of using habeas corpus as an anti-impressment remedy flourished within the navy (and, during the short periods of statutory military conscription, within the army); in the late eighteenth century it was impressed sailors who made up the largest constituency using the writ. This account describes the scope of review and procedure regulating impressment-related habeas corpus.
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright (published version): 2008 Taylor and Francis
Keywords: Legal history;Military history
DOI: 10.1080/01440360802196679
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Law Research Collection

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