King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 eBook

Edward Keble Chatterton
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 351 pages of information about King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855.


[19] 8 George I. cap. 18.



Rowing about on the night of Lady Day, 1813, a six-oared boat, which had been launched from the Custom House cutter Lion, was on the prowl in that bay which extends all the way from Dungeness to Folkestone.  When the watchers in this craft were off Hythe, and only about a quarter of a mile from the shore, they saw coming along over the dark waters a lugsail boat with foresail and mizzen making towards Dymnchurch, which is just to the west of Hythe.  It was about an hour before midnight, and as this suspicious craft did not come near to the Lion’s boat the latter rowed towards her and hailed her.

“What boat is that?” they asked.

“A Folkestone boat,” came back the answer.

Thereupon John Wellar, a deputed mariner in the Customs boat, shouted to the lugger to heave-to, for he guessed what the game was.

“Heave-to!” roared the lugger’s master.  “We’ll see you d——­d first!”

But the rowing-boat was not to be put off with mere insults, and quickly pulled up alongside the craft.  One of the men in the Customs boat then stood up and looked into the lugger and remarked that she was full of kegs.  Wellar therefore immediately jumped into her, followed by three or four of his men, and seized her.  On board he found three men, and them also he secured.  He further discovered 144 half-ankers of spirits, consisting of brandy and gin from across the Channel, which were subsequently taken to the Custom House at Dover.  A little more than a year later, Robert Baker, the lugger’s master, was brought before the judge and fined L100.

There was an interesting incident which occurred a few years later in the eastern corner of England, which led to trouble for a man named Henry Palmer of Harwich.  This man was master and owner of a yawl named the Daisy, which belonged to Ipswich.  About midday on the 22nd of March 1817, one of the Preventive officers, named Dennis Grubb, observed the Daisy sailing up the Orwell, which flows from Ipswich past Harwich and out into the North Sea.  Grubb was in a six-oared galley, and about three-quarters of a mile below Levington Creek, which is on the starboard hand about a third of the way up the river between Harwich and Ipswich.  With Grubb was another man, and on seeing the Daisy they began rowing towards her.  Whether Grubb had any reason for suspecting her more than any other craft, whether he had received warning from an informer, cannot be stated.  But what is true is that he was determined to have her examined.

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King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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