Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

An Account of a notorious Smuggling gang in the early 18th Century

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was the illegal exportation of woo1 ;* the Sussex return shows that it had been sent from Shoreham.-f Soon after an export duty was imposed on English wool, of 20s. a bag (or 3l. of our money), increased to 40s. (or 6l.) in 1296; then lowered to half-a-mark a bag; and, ultimately, the higher duty was again imposed. At this time the price of the English wool was 6d. a pound (or Is. 6d. of our money), and many English merchants transported themselves with it.
Attempts to prohibit the exportation of wool were, however, made by Edward III. That monarch had offered great facilities to the Flemings to establish the woollen manufactures in this country ; in 1336 the mayors and bailiffs of Winchelsea, Chichester (and twelve other ports out of Sussex), were directed not to allow the export till the duty had been paid ;j and he had so far succeeded, that the cloth produced in the year 1337 was sufficient to enable him to prohibit the wear of any cloths made beyond seas, and to interdict the export of English wool, under the penalties which then attached to capital felonies. His anticipations, however, were not realised. The merchants of Middlebourg, and afterwards of Calais, had great facilities for evading the English law ; they clandestinely exported foreign cloths to England, and imported the wool smuggled out of this country. § The law was so severe that it became use-
* Henry III. had been advised to permit the export to Holland and Brabant, at a duty of 5 marks to the sack ; and it was calcu­lated that this duty, willingly paid, would yield 110,000 marks (£66,333 13s. 4d.), implying an export of 22,000 sacks, in six months. Blaauw's " Barons' War," Ap., p. 2.
t " Rot. Hud.," ii., pp. 203-209.
X Rymer's ''Feed." (1821), ii., p. 944.
§ In 1340 the greatest store of wool was conveyed by stealth. John Smith's " Memoirs of Wool," 2 vols., 8vo, 1747, vol. i., p. 80.
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