Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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74                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
became profitable to import as well as export, the men and machinery were ready for it in Sussex. The nature of the goods smuggled doubtless had some effect on the class of men engaged in it. The wool smugglers were men of substance, and landowners and farmers were interested in the illegal exportation of wool to France. But the smugglers of brandy, hollands, gin, tea, &c, into England, were a lower class; and a brutality showed itself in some of their pro­ceedings which ultimately raised the whole country against them. As early as 1737 an engagement, with loss of life, had taken place at Bulverhithe, near Hastings, between the Custom officers and some of the murderous gangs with which the county was over-run, and for the next ten years there was a guerilla war between the smugglers of Sussex and Kent and the officers of the Government, in which for the most part the smugglers had the advantage, frequently making the officers prisoners, disarming and cruelly cutting them with their swords, and riding off triumphantly with their goods.
The state of the Sussex roads at this time will furnish some clue to this defiance of the law. They were all but impassable. "The foul ways in Sussex" were proverbial. In 1703 the King of Spain, who paid a visit to Petworth House—the seat of the Percies and the finest house in the county—was six hours in travelling the last nine miles. Gentlemen and ladies were drawn to Church by oxen; and so recently as 1818 Bishop Buckner advised a gentleman whom he had ordained in the November of that year as the curate of Waldron to lose no time in going there, for in the course of a very short time he would find it impossible to do so! By some true Conservatives of the times this state of things was rejoiced in; and it is a fact that when the highway from London to Brighton, through Cuckfield, was projected, it was petitioned against by the residents of Hurstpierpoint, and diverted from that place, on the ground that it would be the means of bringing down cut-throats and
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