The name given to the certificate carried by certain classes of men which rendered them immune from impressment for the navy in Britain. They included masters and mates of merchant ships, seamen in outward-bound but not homeward-bound merchant ships (but see men-in-lieu), a proportion of the crews of colliers, men employed by the Customs Office, Salt Office, and Trinity House if laying buoys, men employed in the royal dockyards, and the crews of privateers. Protections were also given to apprentices under 18 and men over 55, if they could prove their age. Harpooners employed in the Greenland fisheries and fishermen on the east coast during the herring season were also exempt from the press gangs and normally carried protections. In general, a man had to prove his trade, and show that it fell into an exempt category, before he could be issued with an official protection. During the Napoleonic (1793–1801) and Revolutionary (1803–1815) Wars against France Sea Fencibles were also exempt.
Subjects: Maritime History.