Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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into the service; but that the officers (according to proper and apt instructions to be prepared for them) be kept to a strict and diligent discipline in the perform­ance of their duties. These methods being taken, I am humbly of opinion both coasts may be ventured with a single guard, soe as aforesaid, during the warr, or for
one year's tryall, &c.
" Hen. Baker. " December, 1703."
The new force was utterly inadequate to the suppres­sion of the trade. In the next forty-five years the daring of the smugglers grew with the impunity with which they were enabled to act. Large gangs, of twenty, forty, fifty, and even one hundred, rode, armed with guns, bludgeons, and clubs, throughout the country, setting every one at defiance, and awing all the quiet inhabitants. They established warehouses and vaults in many districts, for the reception of their goods, and built large houses at Seacock's Heath, in Etchingham (built by the well-known smuggler, Arthur Gray, and called "Gray's Folly"), at Pix Hall and the Four Throws, Hawkhurst,* at Goudhurst, and elsewhere, with the profits of their trade.
We have in the treasury papersf many particulars of the daring and desperate acts of these companies or gangs of men in both parts of Sussex, during the first half of the last century, principally in the smuggling of tea.
In an engagement between the custom-house officers and upwards of sixty armed men, at Ferring, on June
* Ex. inf. Miss Ann Durrant, set. 89, 1858.
+ Notorious instances of riots and assaults in running tea and other goods.—Customs : Rolls House.
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