Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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authority writing in that year,* that, though the exportation was prohibited as almost a felony, there was nothing more daily practised. Nor was the loss, said he, in this case all the injury; for when honest men did " detect these caterpillars," and endeavoured by due course of law to make stoppage thereof, and to have the offenders punished, so many were the evasions—such combination and interests in the officers who ought to punish ; such favour had they in the courts of justice, and in general, such were the affronts and discouragements—that the dearest lover of his country, or most interested in trade, dared not to prevent that mischief which his eyes beheld to fall upon his nation.
After the Eestoration, in 1660, an act was passed entirely prohibiting the export of wool; and in 1662, the illicit export was made felony. The severity of the punishment had no effect in discouraging the active spirits along the southern coast, and they readily risked their necks for 12d. a day. Seven years after the last enactment, it is stated that from Romney Marsh the greatest part of the rough wool was exported, being put on board French shallops by night, with ten or twenty men well armed to guard it; whilst in some other parts of Sussex, Hants, and Essex, the same methods were used, but not so conveniently.f In 1671, Mr.W. Carter declared that the misery of England was the great quantity of wool stolen out of England. Holland drew from Ireland whole ship-loads of wool, besides what came from England, being stolen out from the Kentish, Essex, and Sussex coasts. In the town of Calais alone,
* » The Golden Fleece," by W. S. Gent, 1656, p. 67. t " England's Interest Asserted," 1669, p. 17.
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