Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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The Sussex Smugglers.                    73
supervisors and blockade men. " Hon. Members," he went on to say, " were well aware that Bandana handkerchiefs were prohibited by law, and yet," he continued, at the same time drawing forth a Bandana from his pocket amidst the roars of the House, " I have no doubt there is hardly a gentleman in the House who has not got a Bandana handkerchief."
So, from 1671 to 1787, all the severity of the law could not prevent the exportation of British wool. Calais was often full of it—40,000 packs at a time. A law was passed that no person living within 15 miles of the sea in Sussex or Kent should buy wool without entering into sureties not to sell it to any people within 15 miles of the sea. It was of no avail. In 1698. the Supervisor of Sussex and Kent (Mr. Henry Baker) wrote to the authorities to say that in a few weeks 160,000 sheep would be shorn in Romney Marsh, and that the greater part of their fleeces would be " sent off hot into France." Warrants were sent down to arrest the wool smugglers at Romney, and some wool was seized on the horses' backs; but the smugglers assembled—50 armed horsemen—attacked the supervisor, rescued his prisoners, and pursued him and his officers till they were glad to make their escape to Guildford. More officers were appointed, but with little or no effect. " Large gangs of twenty, forty, fifty, and even one hundred, rode, armed with guns, bludgeons, and clubs, throughout the country, setting everyone at defiance, and awing all the quiet inhabitants. They established warehouses and vaults in many districts, for the reception of their goods, and built large houses at Seacock's Heath in Etchingham (built by the well-known smuggler, Arthur Gray, and called 'Gray's Folly'), at Pix Hall and the Four Throws, Hawkhurst, at Goudhurst, and elsewhere, with the profits of their trade."
"The illicit exportation of wool," says Mr. W. D. Cooper, in his paper on "Smugglers in Sussex," "was never stopped ;" and when a new kind of "fair trade" commenced, and it
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