Recruiting Act 1778

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The Recruiting Act 1778 (18 Geo.3 c.53) is an Act of Parliament passed by the Parliament of Great Britain. It was a press Act "for the more easy and better recruiting of his Majesty's Land Forces". After the losses at the Battle of Saratoga in the American Revolutionary War and the apprehended hostilities with France, the existing voluntary enlistment measures were judged to be insufficient.

It provided that each volunteer receive a bounty of £3, and that he should be entitled to discharge after three years unless the nation were at war.

It also empowered the justices of the peace to levy and deliver to the recruiting officers "all able-bodied idle, and disorderly persons, who could not upon examination prove themselves to exercise and industrially follow some lawful trade or employment, or to have some substance sufficient for their support and maintenance". A reward of 10s. was offered to the discoverer of any person liable within the provisions of the Act. Impressed men could demand discharge after five years, unless the nation were at war.

Geographically its operation was confined, by the direction of the secretary of war, to Scotland and to "the City of London, the city and liberties of Westminster, and such parts of the County of Middlesex as are within the Bills of Mortality". The chief advantage of this Act was in the number of volunteers brought in under the apprehension of impressment.

The Act received royal assent on 28 May 1778. It was repealed by section 1 of the Recruiting Act 1779 and replaced by that Act.


  • Curtis, Edward, The Organization of the British Army in the American Revolution. 1972, ISBN 0-85409-906-9