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.

Thus the Lord Rivers came to a bad end.


[22] The ceiling of a ship signified the inside planks.



Having now seen the evolution of the smuggling methods from brute force and superiority of ships and crews to the point where the landing of dutiable goods became a fine art, and having been able to obtain an idea of the manifold changes which occurred in the administration of the Preventive service between the years 1674 and 1856, we may now resume our narrative of the interesting encounters which occurred between the smugglers on the one hand and the Preventive force on the other.  Up to the year 1822 we have dealt with the different incidents which used to go on around our coast, and we shall now be in a position to appreciate to their full the notable exploits of cruisers and smugglers in that late period between the years 1822 and 1856.  This covers the epoch when improved architecture in regard to the craft employed, greater vigilance on the part of the cruisers, and a keener artfulness in the smugglers themselves were at work.  Consequently some of these contests represent the best incidents in the whole history of smuggling.

But it was not always that the Revenue cruisers and Preventive boats were in the right.  There were occasions when the commanders suffered from too much zeal, though certainly these were quite exceptional.  There is the case of the Drencher which well illustrates this.  She was a Dutch vessel which had been on her voyage to Italy, and was now returning home up the English Channel with a cargo of oil, bound for Amsterdam.  Being somewhat square and ample of form, with the characteristic bluff bows much beloved by her countrymen, and being also very foul on her bottom through long voyaging, she was only a dull sailer.[23] And such being the case, when she fell in with head winds her skipper and part-owner, Peter Crook, decided to let go anchor under Dungeness, where many a sailing craft then, as to-day, has taken shelter in similar circumstances.

Whilst she was at anchor waiting for a favourable slant, one of the numerous fishing-boats which are always to be seen hereabouts came alongside the Drencher[24] and asked the skipper if he required any assistance.  Crook replied that if the wind was still ahead, and he was compelled to remain there till the next day, he would want some fuel for his stove.  The fisherman sold some of his catch to the Dutchman, and then went on his way.

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