Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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82                 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
agents at Flushing: and these official representatives of Sussex smugglers continued to be appointed up to 30 years ago!*
The exportation of wool had ceased, but the high duties on tea, silks, tobacco, and spirits left plenty of work for the smuggler in the introduction of those articles into the country without payment of duties; and, when successful, the profit was so great that plenty of men were ready to risk their lives for it. So the work went on, not only through the whole of the war with France, from 1793 to 1815, but up to 1840; and during that period scarcely an Assize went by without some trial taking place for more or less heinous offences arising out of it; whilst the loss of life in the constant conflicts between the blockade-men and the smugglers was incessant, and sometimes heavy on both sides.
"In May, 1826," writes Mr. W. D. Cooper in the paper on " Smuggling in Sussex," from which we have before quoted, "a smuggling galley, chased by a guard boat, ran-ashore near the mouth of Rye Harbour, and opened fire on the guard. The blockade-men from Camber Watch-house came to the spot and seized one of the smugglers, when a body of not less than two hundred armed smugglers rushed from behind the sand-hills, commenced a fire on the blockade-men, killing one and wounding another, but were ultimately driven off with the capture of their galley, carrying off, nevertheless, their wounded. On another occasion, four or five smugglers were killed whilst swimming the military canal at Pett-horse Race, having missed the spot where it was fordable. On April 13, 1827, about twenty smugglers went down to the eastward of Fairlight; a struggle ensued;
* The cool audacity of these men is illustrated by a piece of intelligence communicated to the Chichtiter Journal and Hampshire and Wiltshire Chronicle of October 6, 1783, under the head of " Lewes, Sept. 39." It is as follows:—*' One night last week Mr. Marson, Excise officer at Newhaven, was seized by six or eight smugglers, who escorted him to their main body, composed of near aoo, assembled at the sea-side, by -whom the Excise£ man "was tried for his life on a charge of aiding and abetting in wantonly shooting a smuggler some time since, when, happily for him, he was acquitted by a majority of ten and suffered to depart unhurt." This was, indeed, turning the tables! Only try to conceive the state of things when smugglers apprehended and tried for their lives Excise officers t
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