Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex - online book

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

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lately been set up for making Geneva, for the same purpose, at Dunkirk ; that the French imported five or six millions of pounds of tea, the greatest part of which was to be smuggled here ;* that the trade of Dunkirk (where, and at Flushing, the Sussex smugglers, so late as thirty years since,had regular resident agents) was mostly carried on by smugglers, in vessels not only large, but so well constructed for sailing, that seldom one of them was captured; that in many places near the sea, the farmer was unable to find hands to do his work, whilst great numbers were employed in smuggling goods from one part of the country to another; and that the smugglers paid for what they bought in cash, or by the illicit exportation of English wool, no other articles of any consequence being carried abroad by them.
Although the illicit trade in the bulky article of wool came to an end with the commencement of the war of 1793, yet the trade in tea, silks, tobacco, and spirits continued ; and, after the close of the war, was largely carried on. By degrees, tea was not easily got, and the duty on silks left little profit to the smuggler. Spirits increased in value, by being some forty per cent, over proof, and tobacco still, however, gave a profitable return, and lives were freely risked.f
In such a society as the Sussex, it would be improper to enter into any details which might involve the characters of persons still alive; but I may glance briefly at some of the encounters which have taken place within my own time. The trial for murder, and
* When Pitt first lowered the tea-duty, it was averred that the smuggler was so great a rival with the open trader, that the tea-trade was then shared between them nearly equally.
f For epitaph in Patcham Churchyard on Daniel Scales, a smuggler shot on Nov. 7, 1796, see p. 262 of this work.
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