Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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rum * which was loaded on board a cutter (" The Three Brothers "), with the view of running it on the coast of Sussex ; but intelligence reached the revenue officers, and Captain Johnson, of the revenue cutter at Poole, on September 22, caught sight of the loaded cutter, took her, and carried her and her cargo into Poole—Perrin and the crew escaping in the boat.
On Sunday, Oct. 4, the whole body of smugglers assembled in the Charlton Forest to consult on the possibility of recovering the goods, when Perrin proposed that they should go in a body, armed, and break open the Poole Custom-house; this was agreed to, and a bond was signed to support each other. The next day they met at Eowland's Castle, armed with swords and firearms; at the Forest of Bere, adjoining Horndean, Kingsmill and the Hawkhurst gang met them; they concealed themselves in the wood till the evening of the following day, and then proceeded to Poole, which they reached at eleven at night. A report from two who were sent to reconnoitre, stating that a sloop of war lay opposite the quay, so that her guns could be pointed against the door of the custom-house, led some of the gang to falter; but Kingsmill and Fairall (a native of Horsendown Green, Kent, of no business, inured to smuggling from infancy, and remarkable for his brutal couragef) addressed them, saying: " If you
* The tea was 41| cwt., packed in canvas and oilskin hags ; and thirty-nine casks of spirits, slung with ropes, in order to be loaded on horses.—" History," p. 132.
t He had been arrested and sent to London by James Butler, Esq., near Lewes, but escaped and rejoined his companions. It was proposed to burn down Mr. Butler's house ; but that not meeting with general assent, Fairall, Kingsmill, and others of the gang determined to waylay him, near his own park, and shoot him ; but, by accident, he did not return home that night, and the matter becoming known, a watch was kept, and the design laid aside.—" History," p. 147.
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