Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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238                             SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.
with French sloops which came to the coast, and hoped that the law would take hold of their carrying corres­pondence with the sloops, " else there would be more wool transported than there has been for many years :" whilst Mr. Baker declared that "the practice, if permitted, would very much encourage and contribute to the exportation of wool, and also the running or smuggling of French goods."*
This system of carrying on correspondence with France, in time of war, lasted down to and through the last war, during which the daily newspapers and corres­pondence were regularly carried to Buonaparte, by a family then resident at Bex hill.
From the following report, made by Mr. Baker in December, 1703, it appears that the new law had by that time abated, though it had not quite stopped, the " owling" trade along these coasts, but that import smuggling still flourished :—
" May it please your Honours,-]-—In obedience to your Honours, commanding me to consider how the charge of the ryding-ofhcers appointed for the guard of the coasts of Kent and Sussex may, in some measure, be reduced without prejudice to her Majestie's service, in preventing the exporting of wool, &c, from these coasts. Upon consideration thereof, and from observa­tions I have made of the state of that and the smuggling trade, as they have been carryed on since the present war-r, I have observed and do beleive that the neck of the ' owling' trade, as well as the spirit of the 1 owlers,' is in a great measure broke, particularly in Romney Marsh; where I have, in several of my late
* Treasury Papers : Customs. Rolls House, t Egertou MS. 929, fol. 40.
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