244 SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.
" There was no foreign persons at this business, but all were Sussex men, and may easily be spoke with.
" This (is) the seventh time Morten's people have workt this winter, and have not lost any thing but one half hundred (of tea) they gave to a dragoon and one officer they met with the first of this winter; and the Hoo company have lost no goods, although they constantly work, and at home too, since they lost the seven hundred-weight. When once the smuglers are drove from home they will soon be all taken. Note, that some say it was Gurr that fired first. You must well secure Cat, or else your Honours will soon lose the man; the best way will be to send for him up to London, for he knows the whole company, and hath been Morten's servant two years. There were several young chaps with the smuglers, whom, when taken, will soon discover the whole company. The number was twenty-six men. Mark's horse, Morten's, and Hoad's, were killed, and they lost not half their goods. They have sent for more goods, and twenty-nine horses set out from Groomsbridge this day, about four in the afternoon, and all the men well armed with long guns. . . . There are some smuglers worth a good sum of money, and they pay for taking. . . . The Hoo company might have been all ruined when they lost their goods.; the officers and soldiers knew them all, but they were not prosecuted. . . Morten and Boura sold, last winter, someways, 3,000 lb. weight a week."
In fact, the smugglers overawed most of the riding officers, and bribed many others, so that the peaceable inhabitants of the villages were completely at the mercy of these lawless bands.
On June 13, 1744, the officers of the customs at Eastbourne, having intelligence of a gang of smugglers,