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.




The reputed difference between a sloop and cutter in the eighteenth century is well illustrated by the following, which is taken from the Excise Trials, vol. xxx., 1st July 1795 to 17th December 1795, p. 95.

In Attorney-General v. Julyan and others there was an action to condemn the vessel Mary of Fowey, brought under the provisions of sec. 4, c. 47, 24 Geo. III., as amended by sec. 6, c. 50, 34 Geo. III.  There were several counts, including one with regard to the vessel being fitted with “arms for resistance,” but the case turned on the question whether she was cutter-rigged or sloop-rigged.  Counsel for the prosecution defined a cutter as “a thing constructed for swift sailing, which, with a view to effect that purpose, is to sink prodigiously at her stern, and her head to be very much out of water ... built so that she should measure a great deal more than she would contain.”

Such a definition, however satisfactory it may have been to the legal mind, was one that must have vastly amused any seafaring man.  The judge, quoting expert evidence, explained the difference between a cutter and a sloop as follows:—­A standing or running bowsprit is common to either a sloop or a cutter, and a traveller, he said, was an invariable portion of a cutter’s rig, so also was a jib-tack.  The jib-sheet, he ruled, differed however; that of a cutter was twice as large as that of a sloop and was differently set.  It had no stay.  A sloop’s jib-sheet was set with a fixed stay.  Furthermore, in a cutter the tack of the jib was hooked to a traveller, and there was a large thimble fastened to a block which came across the head of the sail.  There were two blocks at the mast-head, one on each side.  “A rope passes through the three blocks by which it is drawn up to the halliards.”  The jib of a cutter “lets down and draws in a very short time.”  A cutter usually had channels and mortice-holes to fix legs to prevent oversetting.



-------------------+ Name. |Number of|Where | | |Crew. |Stationed. | Remarks. | -----------------+---------+------------+-------------------
--------------+ Lively and } | 14 | London | These vessels were the property | Vigilant } | | | of the Crown.  The Lively | | | | cruised in the winter | | | | half-year, but in the summer | | | | her crew did duty on board | | | | the Vigilant. |
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King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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