Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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226                             SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.
pardoned for being at the port called Kingston, having at Goring by night shipped wool which had not paid customs, on the ship of Lawrence Blake, an alien [Pat., 18 Ric. II.] and two years after Thomas Kitte and Eichard Barnard took on horses by night four sacks of wool, which the said Thomas and Lawrence Hildere had sold to a foreigner and promised to deliver: and Eobert Smith, of Offington, Henry Elay, William Kitte, John Mitchelgrove, William Hobbin, John Mot, of Worthing, William Otham and William Garrett, lay wait for them the same night in the highway at Worthing, near the sea, opposite the port of Kingston, and took them with their horses and the wool, and detained them, but they paid 8 marks and more to help their cause [Pat., 20 Eic. II.]. In 1368, Chichester was still among the places for the staple; but in 1402 (4th Hen. IV.), the Lewes Burgesses prayed* that wool might be again weighed, for home consumption and for shipment, at that town as well as at Chichester, because they were near the sea, and a great part of the wool was grown near there, and the town and neighbourhood were inhabited by many great merchants.
At this period licenses were freely granted for the export of wool to any part of the Continent, on pay­ment of a heavy duty to the Crown. It was to evade this duty that the smuggling trade was carried on. When, in 1423,f it was enacted that no license should be granted to export the " slight," i.e., the short " wools of Southampton, Kent, Sussex and York," except to the staple at Calais, a still more direct encouragement was given to the men of the coast to evade the law; and, in
* "Rot. Parl.,"iii., p. 497. t Act 2 Henry VI., c. 4.
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