London, by the sailors on board the packets and cargo-
boats that plied between London and the Continent. The
most daring and skilful dealers in this line were the sailors
of the General Steam Navigation Company. Most of
these men came from the neighbourhood of Folkestone,
and were the descendants of incorrigible smugglers. A
great part of the goods brought by them was conveyed
ashore on the persons of professional ' carriers, ' and taken
to the dwellings of professional receivers. The most
famous receiver of all was ' Mother Gregson.' She had
a tobacco-dealer's licence, and kept a chandler's shop in
Barking Churchyard, a shop which was practically a
' clearing-house ' for smuggled goods. She employed a
number of lads (all under sixteen years of age, and there-
fore immune from prosecution), who did nothing for a
livelihood except carry tobacco ashore on their persons
from the vessels lying in the Pool and at the London
wharves, and tramp with it down to her shop. This
juvenile smuggling force was known among the waterside
folk as ' Mother Gregson's gang.'* Some idea of the
extent to which the conveying of tobacco * on the person '
was carried on may be gleaned from the evidence of a
waterside police expert of the time, who stated that,
though 210 persons were convicted of this practice in
1842-43, it was his firm conviction that not more than
one offender out of a hundred was detected. It should
be borne in mind that a practised ' carrier ' could convey
with ease from 8 to 20 pounds of tobacco on his person
(one man was caught carrying no less than 47 pounds).
Information was given, after the event, as to an extra-
ordinary venture in this line. The crew of a Dutch vessel
* Mother Gregson was in touch with many City tobacco
merchants and shopkeepers. On one occasion a large quantity
oi tobacco was found at her shop. The goods were undoubtedly
contraband, but she escaped by producing false invoices, which,
said the information, ' she procured at a few hours' notice from
some of the most respectable people in the tobacco trade.'
i843] LONDON AND HULL SMUGGLERS 275
(ten in number) brought 2 tons of tobacco to London,
concealed among the cargo on board. They carried this
huge quantity ashore upon their persons within a week,
making several trips each day. It was stated that the
customs officer who was employed to watch the vessel
winked at their proceedings, receiving as reward the
paltry sum of £3.
There was much smuggling of tobacco-stalks, the goods
being used in the illicit manufacture of snuff. Many
large manufacturers of snuff dabbled in this business.
In 1844 a huge seizure of stalks was made in the Minories
by several of the London police. The goods had been
landed ' down the river,' and thence conveyed to the
premises of an eminent London firm, a firm whose name
is a household word with snuff-takers.
Flushing, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, Bremen —
all these were places where much pains were devoted to
the packing and manufacture of tobacco for smuggling
into the United Kingdom, principally into the great
centre of absorption, London. The quiet and winding
creeks and rivers of East Anglia had become favoured
running-places, the goods being afterwards taken to
London in market-carts and carriers' vans. But London
was not the only great smuggling port. Hull ran her
very close ; indeed, the records of information dealing
with the ancient port on the Humber are most picturesque
of all. We quote two or three :
1. A billy-boy left the Humber, ostensibly to procure
ballast at Spurn Point. She ' ran over,' took in 140 bales
of tobacco and stalks, and landed them on the Humber
shore without a hitch. * Part,' said the informant, 'went
to , part to , the rest came to me.'
2. A smack, belonging to Faversham, went foreign,
took in 3 tons of tobacco (cut, leaf, and stalks), and landed
the goods on the Humber bank close to Hull. ' The shag,'
said the informant, ' was brought to me by a truckman,
packed in hampers.'
3. The same smack made a second trip, and arrived in
276 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1843
the Humber in a blinding snow-storm, after a terrible
passage. She lay off Grimsby a whole day, close along-
side the revenue cutter. Next morning she got under
weigh early, and landed her cargo at Stone Creek. ' I
kept the cut tobacco,' said the informant, ' and sent the
stalks to Sheffield.'
4. Another vessel landed between 10 and 11 tons in
one run on the Holderness coast. ' Any quantity of
tobacco,' said the informant, ' may be landed at Hull.'
5. An American smuggling agent approached a Hull
manufacturer, and offered to supply him with any desired
quantity of smuggled tobacco. ' Leave your warehouse
door open,' said the persuasive Yankee, ' and we will take
care the tobacco is placed there. If it is seized, we will
not ask you for any money ; if it goes through safe, we shall
ask you 2s. a pound in a banker's bill for two months.'
The Americans were not in ' the trade ' as much as
formerly, so far as Great Britain was concerned. Their
greatest feats of smuggling were performed in Ireland,
but even there not to the same extent as during the
1810-1819 period. (It should be remembered that prior
to 1819 there had been next to no purely preventive force
in Ireland. Then the Irish Coastguard was formed, the
first station manned being on the coast of Cork, where
great smuggling had been transacted by Americans. It
was the opinion of experts that prior to 181 g about
6,000,000 pounds of tobacco had been smuggled annually
on the south-western coast of Ireland, and that the
ordinary customs staff there had connived at the trade.)
Still, great runs took place occasionally on the Irish
coast. It was not uncommon, when a run was made,
for a thousand or more of the country people to muster,
armed with sticks, scythes, and pitchforks, and assist the
smugglers. ' Not one of these,' ran the information, ' will
incriminate the purchaser.' On p. 277 is an accredited
statement of the expenses and proceeds of a run made in
Ireland by Americans for an Irish purchaser, and connived
at by the Coastguard.
i843] IRISH AND JERSEY SMUGGLERS 277
Goods Shipped (60,000 Pounds Tobacco).
Original cost at
4d. a pound . .
Freight cost at
ijd. a pound —
Wages of ship's
Douceurs to ship's
Interest on ship's
Loss on weight of
goods . .
Loss by ' decoy '
(so many bales
to be left for the
of&cers to seize)
Bribe to Coast-
guard . .
Expense of con-
56,000 pounds to-
bacco sold at 2S.
a pound . . 5,600
(The transaction occupied two months.)
It was stated that many people in the Channel Islands
had made large fortunes by smuggling. The supervision
of cargo-boats that left Jersey and Guernsey for England
was extremely slack, the Jersey and Guernsey officers
merely making perfunctory surveys, ostensibly to see
that no contraband goods had been shipped. So lax
were the searches that in 1842 one Guernsey vessel laden
with stone actually brought 12 tons of tobacco, and
landed it safely in the Regent's Canal Dock, London.
There was much smuggling of tobacco in casks of apples,
the Customs scrutiny of the apples on shipment at Jersey
being practically nothing more than a journey to obtain
a declaration for the Jurat that the apples were the
produce of the island. The examination of the goods on
278 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1843
their arrival in England was equall}^ slipshod. There was
also much smuggling from the Channel Islands into France
— information said more than into England.*
It is apparent that the Coastguard in the United King-
dom had for some years been miserably inefficient. The
force numbered about 11,000 men, nearly two-thirds of
whom were employed afloat. During the five years
1839 to 1843 inclusive this large force seized only 89,691
pounds of tobacco and 4,908 pounds of cigars. Of this
the greater part was seized in 1843, through the sudden
vigilance inspired by the current inquiries into revenue
and revenue fraud, t It should be noted that against this
the regular Customs staff had seized, in 1843 alone, 93,000
pounds of cigars and tobacco, while the excise officers
had seized over 15,000 pounds as smuggled, and about
an equal quantity as adulterated.
Although (thanks to contraband) tobacco must in many
places have been tolerably cheap, there was much adul-
teration — probably resorted to in self-defence by such of
the manufacturers as did not deal with smugglers. It
should be observed, too, that Mr. Baring's Act, which
tacitly permitted the adulteration of tobacco, had been
in operation several years. The adulterants used were
rhubarb-leaves, foxglove-leaves, brown paper saturated
with sarsaparilla, syrup of sugar, powdered chicory-root,
glutenized Irish moss, carbonate of potash, sulphate of
potash, carbonate of magnesia, carbonate of lime, terra
japonica, alum, sand, salt, crude nitrate of ammonia,
muriate of potash, and bread (this last being cut up with
Other circumstances combined to favour fraud. The
* The manufacture of tobacco in France was granted as a
licence by the Crown to various companies, who regulated prices
as they chose. The smugghng into France was even worse than
that into the United Kingdom. Most of it was across the Belgian
frontier, and was performed by dogs specially trained to carry
the goods to the various receivers. It appears from a return
made in 1830 that in ten years the French revenue officers had
killed no less than 40,278 of these dogs.
Er. t Late in 1843 they made three large hauls (on the Lincolnshire
coast and off Tynemouth).
i843] AUSTRALIAN SMUGGLERS 279
regulations, circumlocutory as they were, were terribly
imperfect. Leaf tobacco, stripped of the stalk, and im-
ported in a high-dried condition, paid no more than leaf
imported with the stalk in, and containing a normal
amount of moisture. Thus it became a practice to ship
tobacco from bond, duty-free, for exportation to the
Channel Islands, dry it till it had lost a third of its weight,
and then reimport it promptly for duty. A few weeks
after duty had been paid the bales regained their ordinary
moisture, and then they were sold to dealers at the normal
The exposures of Customs connivance and rampant
smuggling narrated in the last few pages did not fail to
discredit certain members of the Board, and several
' retirements ' took place. It is possible that the Chair-
man, Mr. Dean, despite his well-known zeal and efficiencj-,
did not escape blame, for his connection with the depart-
ment ceased soon afterwards.
Large seizures were still reported from the Colonies.
Early in 1843 the Jane arrived at Launceston, Tasmania,
from Manilla, and landed, amongst other goods, seventeen
butts of molasses. Ten of these were transhipped on
board the Westbrook for Sydney ; the other seven were
duty-paid as molasses. Several days afterwards a cooper
observed a heap of remains of dismantled casks lying in
a corner of a wharf at Launceston, and noticed that
wooden cleats were nailed to the inside of some of the
staves. He told one of the customs officers, who inspected
the staves, and came to the conclusion that they were
the remains of the casks which had been cleared as con-
taining molasses. He went on board the Westbrook,
examined the ten casks which had been transhipped, and
found a large jar inside each cask, fastened to the inside
of the staves by cleats. The ten jars contained no gallons
On March 25, 1843, a large seizure was made at Sydney,
N.S.W. A customs officer observed a dray, loaded with
casks and escorted by Lascars, passing along Clarence
Street. It stopped near ' the Albion Mills,' and unload-
28o PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1843
ing commenced. The officer examined the casks, and
found that they contained sugar, with kegs of tobacco
inside. He seized horse, dray, and goods, and sent for
his surveyor. That official brought a writ of assistance,
searched the mills, and found several other casks of sugar
containing tobacco. Forty casks were also found in a
store hard by. The total amount of tobacco seized was
17,343 pounds. The goods had been landed from the
Duchess of Kent, a vessel recently arrived from Calcutta,
and they had been cleared by the Customs as sugar.
A dispute at once arose between the Solicitor-General
for the colony and the customs collector as to whether the
vessel was liable to seizure, the Solicitor-General opining
that she was exempt, the goods being seized after landing ;
the collector that she had been liable to seizure from the
moment she reached harbour, the goods having been re-
ported under a false denomination. The case was referred
to the Board, who agreed with the Solicitor-General.
It appears that another vessel belonging to the same
owners was on her way from Calcutta with a similar con-
signment. As soon as she arrived she was searched from
stem to stern, but the only goods seized were 3,000 cigars,
belonging to the captain and not reported, and 80 pounds
tobacco, which had been concealed by the Lascar crew.
Then one of the passengers came forward, and stated
that a sailing-boat had intercepted the ship off Jarvis
Bay, and had put a letter on board, upon reading which
the captain had directed the Lascars to take off the
hatches and throw a number of large casks into the sea.
Then the Lascar serang turned informer, and corrobo-
rated the passenger's statement, mentioning incidentally
that the captain had given the Lascars the 80 pounds of
tobacco recently seized as compensation for their trouble
in jettisoning the rest. The captain was convicted, but
the ship was held exempt from forfeiture, she being outside
the limits when the offence took place. No proceedings
were entered against the owners ; they became bankrupt.
On October 27, 1843, a Chinaman imported and entered
180,000 cigars at Port Louis, Mauritius. When the
CANADIAN SMUGGLERS 281
officers came to weigh the goods, they found 96 pounds
of opium concealed among the cigars. The whole of the
goods were forfeited.
In June, 1843, the searcher at Woodbridge Bay,
Dominica, received information that goods were to be
run in the neighbourhood by a sloop from Martinique.
He placed himself in ambush, and soon a boat came ashore
laden with contraband goods. He seized her. Then
another boat put off from the sloop, making for a distant
part of the bay. The searcher pursued and captured
her, and found that she was also loaded with contraband.
Later he attempted to seize the sloop, but was violently
assaulted and repulsed. Proceedings were taken against
his assailant in the Court of Grand Session, Dominica,
but the grand jury returned ' no true bill,' although the
defendant had admitted the offence. The collector reported
that this was ' mainly to be attributed to the feeling
that exists in the community against revenue officers.'
But the Board did not advise any further proceedings.
On May 27, 1843, an officer at Montreal seized a trunk,
landed as baggage by ' a non-resident foreigner.' It
contained the following works : ' A Guide to Family
History,' by the Rev. Fletcher, Finsbury Chapel (399
copies) ; ' Gallery of British Arts,' by Finden (6 copies) ;
' Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland,' by N. P. Willis
(36 copies) ; ' Canadian Scenery,' by N. P. Willis
(50 copies) ; ' The Parent's Gift,' by Susan Jowett
It appears that they were seized as landed without
payment of duty, not as piracies (Willis and Jowett, we
presume, would be American authors). The seizing
officer's report stated : ' I found the case had been landed
as baggage, with instructions that it should be sent to a
tavern in this city. The individual stated that the
package had been forwarded here in mistake. As he is
known to be engaged in the contraband trade, I did not
place any faith in his statement.' The books were
forfeited, but the smuggler was not prosecuted. It is
evident that books were smuggled extensively from the
282 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1844
United States into the British North American possessions,
merely to escape the duty.
Cap. 16 of 7 Vict, declared tobacco-stalks to be tobacco
within the meaning of the revenue Acts (this was not to
repeal the existing prohibition of their importation), and
extended the liability of detention, attaching to persons
found on ships that had contraband goods on board, to
persons on foreign mail-packets. It also provided that
the penalty for an offence against the revenue in which
several persons were concerned should attach to each
offender, and that smugglers convicted more than once
should become liable to imprisonment with hard labour.
The Lieutenant-Governor of St. Vincent wrote to the
Treasury, suggesting certain measures for the repression
of smuggling in that island. It appears that much gin
was run, the coloured people preferring it to the rum
manufactured in St. Vincent, and that the Legislative
Assembh^ of the island objected to the appointment of an
extra customs officer, they being doubtful whether the
finances of the colony would bear the strain, but they
recommended that the police should be stimulated by a
grant of the whole of the ' officers' share ' of reward for
seizure. In this recommendation both Board and
Dr. Bartlett, editor of the Albion, a periodical published
at New York, complained to the Treasury through the
governor of Jamaica that the Kingston customs officers
had seized as piracies several hundred copies of his paper.
He forwarded eight specimen copies, and the Customs
lawyers thought they did not warrant seizure. But when
the Board's notice to release the goods reached Jamaica
the collector replied to the effect that some of the copies
contained matter entitled ' Life and Adventures of Martin
Chuzzlewit,' and other extracts from works which were
on his copyright hst. Then Dr. Bartlett stated that he
had authority to publish ' Martin Chuzzlewit.' All the
Customs lawyers continued in the opinion that the papers
were not seizable. Things looked rosy for the American
editor, till the Customs secretary thought of applying to
1844] AMERICAN LITERARY PIRACY 283
Mr. John Murray for an opinion. Mr. Murray's reply
was so emphatic that we reproduce it :
' June 27, 1844.
' Dear Sir,
' I now return the numbers of the Albion, and
enclose for your perusal letters from Mr. Colburn, the
pubhsher, and from Mr. Turner, who is well versed in the
law of copyright.
' Were such a paper as the Albion published in Great
Britain, I should feel myself called upon to bring'Jan action
against the publisher of so gross a piracy. I have no
doubt I should obtain an injunction. It is little more
than a selection of the best articles from our best periodi-
cals, which are copyright as much as any separate
volume. I see our paper from The Quarterly among
others, for which £80 was paid, printed here in extenso.'
(Letters were enclosed from Colburn and from Mr.
Turner, solicitor to the Society for the Protection of
British Literature, stating the papers contained glaring
This correspondence was referred to the lawyers, and
they at once qualified their original opinion. A Treasury
Minute of July 20, 1844, confirmed the seizure.
The sub-collector at Black River, Jamaica, seized
fifty-five smuggled Panama hats, and the horse carrying
them, on the highway between Black River and Savanna-
la-Mar, on December 5, 1844. The goods were escorted
by a Spaniard named Juan Emandez. The sub-collector
took Emandez and the seized goods into the yard of a
settlement close by, and asked one George Adams to act
as interpreter, Emandez being unable to speak English.
Adams entered into conversation with the Spaniard, but
declined to interpret the meaning thereof. Suddenly he
and the Spaniard set upon the officer, dragged him across
the yard, and threw him with great violence against a
gate, injuring him seriously. For this they received
twelve months' imprisonment.
284 PERIOD OF GRADUAL RELAXATIONS [1844
It will be seen from a perusal of the foregoing that there
had been little or no improvement in commercial morality.
Some of the old methods of smuggling had become
unfashionable, but they had been replaced by new ones.
Concealments on board, transhipment into coasting craft,
the running of goods which had been cleared duty-free
for export, and the rafting and sinking of tubs of spirits,
had become the favourite manoeuvres. The old fighting
methods had been abandoned. The practice of mustering
' batmen ' to protect a run had practically ceased since
1832, when the whole of the preventive men were supplied
with firearms, for the smugglers found that the long hard
' bat,' which in the hands of an athletic longshoreman
had often overcome dirk and cutlass, was of little use
against a loaded musket. Another new phase of the
contraband trade was the extensive smuggling of tobacco
in preference to spirits.
LIST OF AUTHORITIES.
Revenue legislation : The various Acts quoted in text.
Incidence of duties, etc. : The various books of rates and
Colonial revenue and smuggling : Antigua, St. Kitt's, ' Re-
ports,' ' Treasury,' Dominica, Jamaica, ' Promiscuous,' Quebec,
Newfoundland and New Brunswick, Australia, Tasmania and
New Zealand, Nova Scotia, Mauritius, Ceylon, Montserrat, and
British smuggling : London Times, March 30 and 31, and
May 30, 1827 ; General Letters, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831,
1832, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1839 ; Admiralty Papers, 1832, 1833,
1839 ; Treasury Papers, 1834, 1835, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843 ;
' Remarkable Seizures ' (Customs Library), 1842.
Departmental regulations : General Letters, 1828, 1829, 1830,
1832, 1833, 1836, 1839 ; Treasury Papers, 1834 ; General Letters,
1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844.
Liverpool : ' Inquiry into Condition and Discipline of Liver-
pool Customs ' (Customs Library) ; General Letters, 1839, 1840.
Theft of public money : ' Robbery of the King's Chest ' (Cus-
Botany Bay and Broken Bay: 'Curious Board's Papers'
Carlist purchase of arms, Malabar fish-oil, coffee-husking, and
guano : Treasury Letters, January 3, January 16, and May 6,
1840, and September 21, 1841.
Infringement of Passenger Acts : General Letters, 1840.
Seizure of flags : Dominica file.
TOWARDS FREE TRDAE
Perusal of that portion of the preceding chapter which
deals with tariffs and departmental history ^\dlI have
revealed to readers that the duties imposed by the
Consolidating Acts of 1833 were in many instances altered
during the eleven years following. Other important
alterations had been made in the revenue laws, notably
the substitution of hard labour for impressment into the
nav}^ as a punishment for smuggling, and the removal of
the prohibition of exportation of machinery. In 1845 it
was considered necessary to issue ten new statutes,
re-consolidating the Customs.
The first of the new Acts, Cap. 84 of 8 and 9 Vict.,
repealed the ten Consolidating Acts of 3 and 4 Wm. IV.,
as well as fourteen Customs Acts passed subsequently.
Cap. 85 regulated the management of the Customs.
Cap. 86 recited the usual provisions as to report, entry,
times of work, Customs right of search, method of securing
ad valorem duties, returned goods, ships' stores, certificates
for goods entitled to special import privileges, and derelict
goods. It also contained the usual list of restricted and
prohibited articles. The restricted articles were fish of
foreign taking, which might only come in vessels regularly
cleared out from foreign ports as traders ; goods from
places within the East India Company's charter, which
might only come into certain approved ports ; infected
hides, etc., which might be prohibited from time to time
by Order in Council ; parts of articles, which might only
come in packages containing the other component parts ;
286 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1845
tea, which still might only come from the Cape of Good
Hope and places eastward towards the Straits of Magellan ;
gloves, silks, spirits, and tobacco, which were subjected
to the restrictions as to tonnage of importing ship, size
of package, etc. The goods prohibited without qualifica-
tion were articles of foreign manufacture marked as the