Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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SUSSEX SMUGGLERS                                261
" Two years only before this occurred, a special commission, at the head of which that great judge, Sir Michael Forster, presided, had been sent to Chichester to try seven smugglers for the murder of two custom­house officers under circumstances of atrocity too horrible to be related. They were convicted, and, with the exception of one who died the night before the execution, they were all executed and hanged in chains in different parts of Sussex. A company of foot guards and a troop of horse attended to prevent all chances of rescue, so thoroughly were the feelings of great numbers of the people enlisted on the side of the smugglers. Seven more were tried and convicted at the following assizes at East Grinstead for the barbarous murder of a poor fellow named Hawkins (who was suspected of giving information against them, and who was literally flogged to death), and for highway robbery. Six of them were executed. Most of them belonged to the celebrated Hawkhurst gang, who were the terror of the counties of Kent and Sussex. Three more were tried at the Old Bailey for joining with sixty others in breaking open the custom-house at Poole, and taking away a quantity of tobacco which had been seized and deposited there. They were executed at Tyburn. The place called Whitesmith's was celebrated for its nest of smugglers long after this time. It has been stated, by a person who took the office of overseer of a neighbour­ing parish about forty years ago, that one of the
outstanding debts of the previous year was due to-----
of Whitesmith, a well-known smuggler, for " two gallons of gin to be drunk at the vestry " !
"There were places of deposit for the smuggled goo<k most ingeniously contrived, in various parts of Sussex. Among others, it is said, was the manorial pound at
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