Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.
233
says one of the witnesses, " Mr. Carter would have received some hurt, for many of the exporters were desperate fellows, not caring what mischief they did.*
The new law was not, at first, much more efficient. Mr. Henry Baker, the supervisor of these counties, writing on his tour from Hastings, on September 18, 1698, refers the customs department to some observations he had made in relation to the "owling" and smuggling trades ; and in his letter of April 25, 1699, he states that in a few weeks there would be shorn in liomney Marsh (besides the adjacent parts in the level) about 160,000 sheep, whose fleeces would amount to about three thousand packs of wool, " the greatest part whereof will be immediately sent off hot into Franceó it being so designed, and provisions, in a great measure, already made for that purpose."J All that the new law seems to have done at first was to send the wool grown by the Sussex and Kent men some fifteen miles up the country, to be thence recarried to the sea and shipped.
Under the new act, seventeen surveyors were appointed for nineteen counties; and 299 riding officers, whose salaries and expenses came to £20,000 a year. They seized only 457 packs of wool, got only 162 packs condemned, and had 504 packs rescued. In Kent, sixty-five packs were seized and eight only condemned; in Sussex, twenty-six were seized, and twelve condemned.§
The illicit exportation of wool was never stopped;
* "An abstract of the proceedings of W. Carter : being a plea to some objections urged against him," 1694. t Wool smugglers were called " owiers." X Treasury Papers : Customs. Kolls House. § Smith's " Memoirs of Wool," ii., p. 166.
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