Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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8o                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
It is difficult to say to which of the long lines of coast that lie to the west and east of Brighton the credit, or discredit, of carrying on the " Fair Trade " with the greatest daring and resolution should be given. Both were favourably circumstanced for it, in 1he ruggedness of the coast, the sparseness of the population, the badness of the roads, and the total absence of police. From Worthing to Selsey there was a long line of flat coast on which boats could be " beached " at any time and their tubs or bales landed from a lying-off Dutch or French lugger, and there was a wild and almost unpopulated country lying behind the few small towns or villages which, like Steyning, and Shoreham, and Bramber, lay nearer to the coast. It was, as we have seen, in the wild country between Chichester and Worthing—taking in Charlton Forest, Slindon, Parham, &c, that the Hawkhurst gang organised their attack on Poole and afterwards con­summated their crime by the murder of Galley and Chater. But the signal punishment which these atrocities brought down upon the chief actors in them seems to have checked their proceedings for a time in this quarter—at least, they were not carried on in the same daring spirit. The improve­ment, too, in the roads of the western part of Sussex, about this time—chiefly by the agency of Sir Walter Burrell—may have had something to do in arresting smuggling. However that may be, in the latter part of the last century and the beginning of this it is in the eastern part of Sussex that we find the smugglers most active and daring. The Hastings men took the lead in it, and, following in the footsteps of the famous Viking, from whom their town presumedly takes its name, joined piracy to smuggling.
In 1758 Nicholas Wingfield (Wingfield is still a good Sussex name) and Adams Hyde, masters of two Hastings cutters, had the audacity to board a Danish ship, on which was the Ambassador to Denmark from Spain, and carried off a portion of its cargo. For this they were tried, convicted, and executed as pirates. So far from the Hastings men being
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