Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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254                            SUSSEX SMUGGLERS.
the master of the vessel, and stealing twenty casks of butter. The Lords of the Admiralty offered a reward of 500l Nicholas Wingfield and Adams Hyde, with four others, having been betrayed by some of their accomplices, were arrested ; and on Jan. 15, 1759, were brought under a strong guard of soldiers, and lodged in the Marshalsea. They were tried at the Admiralty sessions, March 9, 1759, when Nicholas Wingfield and Adams Hyde were found guilty ; and on the 28th of the same month, were hung at Execution Dock. The four others were acquitted. The punishment did not operate as a sufficient warning to the Hastings men. For seven years a gang known as Huxley's crew, most of whom lived at Hastings, boarded and robbed several of the ships coming up the Channel; and in particular in 1768, they boarded a Dutch homeward-bound hoy, called " The Three Sisters,"* Peter Bootes, commander, about two leagues from Beachy Head, and chopped the master down the back with an axe. In November, 1768, the Government sent a detachment of two hundred of the Inniskilling Dragoons to Hastings, to arrest the men, who had been betrayed by their bragging to one another how the Dutchman wriggled when they had cut him on the backbone ; and a man-of-war and cutter lay off Hastings to receive the men.f The soldiers had strict orders not to allow
* The usual method was to go alongside, under the pretence of trading; they frequently mastered the crew, clapped them under the hatches, and then plundered, and afterwards scuttled the ship." Public Advertiser," Nov. 16, 1768.
+ The man who had given information had arrested one of the gang, upon which the others swore they would murder the informant, unless their colleague was released.- " Public Advertiser."
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