The Royal Navy always had trouble recruiting enough men to man all the ships. This was especially so in wartime. At the beginning of the year war broke out Parliament increased the size of the Navy to 45,000 (the population of Britain at the time was around 9 million). In 1794 this was increased to to 85,000 and in 1799 to 120,000.
The Navy gained seamen by three means, Volunteers, The Impress Service, and (from1795) the Quota acts.The organisation at the ports charged with obtaining seamen was known as the Impress Service. The Impress service was limited to seizing men who were seamen, a word given a broad interpretation. The age limits were set at 18 to 55 years of age, frequently these limits were ignored.