The Sussex Smugglers. 75
pickpockets from London ! The impassable roads were also looked upon by some Sussex people as a protection against foreign invaders!
This is a diversion; but it explains a state of things otherwise incredible: a guerilla war carried on within 60 miles of London, and an organised resistance to the Government, in which towns were besieged, battles fought, Custom Houses burnt down, and the greatest atrocities committed.
The gang chiefly guilty of the latter was known as " The Hawkhurst gang," Hawkhurst being a village in Kent. But its leaders were Sussex men, and some of them in a respectable station of life. Such was Perin, a native of Chichester, who had been a master carpenter in that city for some years, until, being deprived of the use of his right hand by a stroke of the palsy, he became a purchaser of French goods for smugglers, and was on board a cutter off the Sussex coast with a large quantity of brandy, tea, and rum, when the vessel was captured by the Revenue officers and its cargo taken to Poole, in Dorsetshire.
Perin and the crew of the smugglers made their escape in a boat.
On Sunday, October 4, 1747, the smugglers of Sussex and Kent met in force in Charlton Forest (the Duke of Richmond's hunting ground, near Chichester), and resolved, upon Perin's suggestion, to attack and break open the Poole Custom House. A portion of the gang, under the same Thomas Kingsmill who now headed the attack on Poole, had shortly before attacked Goudhurst, in Kent, and only been repelled by a regular force of militia after having three of their men killed and several others wounded. Others were taken and executed ; but Kingsmill escaped, and acted as the leader in the attack on Poole. Assembling at Rowland's Castle, in Hampshire, armed with swords and firearms, they marched on Poole, which they reached at 11 at night, and, receiving intelligence that, owing to the ebb tide, the sloop lying off the town could not bring her guns to bear, they