Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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234                            SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.
and, in 1702, Mr. William Symonds, of Milton, near Gravesend, in his " New Year's Gift to the Parliament: or, England's Golden Fleece preserved, in Proposals humbly laid before the Present Parliament,"* makes twenty-live proposals to prevent the exportation of wool, which was illicitly carried on to a great extent; and, by the first, he suggests six staples, or registry offices, at Ashford, Faversham, Maidstone, Tunbridge, Gravesend, and Dartford, for the prevention of clandestine export from these places.
In 1717, an act passed, directing that smugglers of wool, who should be in prison, and should not plead, might have judgment against them, and, if they did not pay the penalty, might be transported;! and yet, on May 19, 1720, it was necessary to issue a proclama­tion for enforcing the law.
In 1731, and in the five following years, the manu­facturers petitioned for greater vigilance against the clandestine exportation of wool; it being alleged that the great decay of the woollen manufactures was, beyond dispute, owing to the illegal exportation of wool, of which 150,000 packs were supposed to be shipped yearly ; and it was " feared that some gentle­men of no mean rank, whose estates bordered on the seacoast, were too much influenced by a near but false prospect of gain," to wish for the application of a remedy proposed, viz., the registration of all wool at shearing-time, and a complete system of certificates till it was manufactured ; " so that no smuggler or owler would venture to purchase it, by reason he would have no opportunity of sending it abroad in the dark."J
* London, 4to, p. 45.
f 4 George I., c. 11.
X "The Golden Fleece," 1736.
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