Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.                             231
there had been at least, within two years, brought in forty thousand packs of wool from the coasts of Kent and Sussex; for Ronmey Marsh men were not content only with the exportation of their own growth, but bought wool ten or twenty miles up the country, brought it down to the seaside, and shipped it off;* and all attempts at effective prosecution of the offenders were defeated.f
In 1677, the landowners endeavoured, without success, to obtain a direct sanction for a legitimate export trade ; and " Eeasons for a Limited Exportation " were published. Andrew Marvel, writing in this same year, describes the owners as a militia, that, in defiance of all authority, convey their wool to the shallops with such strength, that the officers dare not offend them.
After the revolution of 1688, the penalty of felony, imposed by the Act of Charles II., was thought too severe. Very few convictions had taken place under it; and, in 1698, a milder punishment was inflicted ;§ whilst, in 1698, a direct blow was aimed at the Kent
* " England's Interest in Trade Asserted," by W. C, 1671.
f Joseph Trevers, in 1675, says (p. 40) :—" It is well known that smugglers are not of meanest persons in the places where they dwell, hut have oftentimes great interest with the magis­trates ; and, being purse-proud, do not value what they spend to ingratiate themselves with persons of authority, to distrust all such as discover their fraudulent dealings, or else by bribes to stop their mouths . . . The smugglers are not only well acquainted with some attorneys and clerks, but they make good interest with the under sheriffs in the counties where they drive their trade ; and these have strange tricks and delays in their returns, in which some of them will take part with the offenders, instead of executing the law against them."
$ " Letter from a Younger Brother in Ireland to an Elder Brother in England." Published anonymously, 1677.
§ 7 and 8 William III., c. 28.
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