Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.                             249
will not do it, we will do it ourselves." Then a fresh report was made, that, owing to the ebb-tide, the sloop could not bring her guns to bear. Animated with this intelligence, they all rode to the sea coast; Perrin and another of the gang took care of the horses, whilst the main body went down to the custom-house, taking with them a boy they chanced to meet, to prevent his alarming the inhabitants. The door was forced open with hatchets and other instruments, the smuggled tea was carried off on the horses to Fordingbridge ; the band, after having travelled all night, there stopped for a time, but continued their journey to Brook, where the tea booty was divided in the proportion of five bags of twenty-seven pounds each per man.
A reward was offered for their apprehension, but it was months before any were taken. A man named Diamond was captured, and lodged in Chichester gaol, when a portion of the gang committed murders, in West Sussex to prevent evidence being given against their fellows. The victims were William Galley the elder, a custom-house officer at Southampton; and Daniel Chater, a shoemaker of Fordingbridge. The murderers were Benjamin Tapner, a native of Aldrington,* who had worked as a bricklayer; John Cobby, an illiterate son of a Sussex labourer; John Hammond, a labouring man, born at South Berstead; William Jackson and William Carter, natives of Hampshire; Richard Mills the elder, a native of Trotton, where he had been a horse-dealer, but, failing in business, had commenced smuggling, and become one of the most hardened of the gang; and Richard Mills the younger, who lived at
* Trial of Benjamin Tapner and others, at Chichester, January, 1749.
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