of tobacco were found floating off the Essex coast.
348 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1849
The following illustrative cases of seizures are quoted
from the 1849 papers :
March 3. ā Horse, cart, and 993 pounds tobacco,
seized by excise officers and police near Shield Row,
May 3. ā 122 pounds tobacco, seized on a ship in Leith
May 16. ā 150 tubs spirits, seized in Portsmouth
Harbour, while being towed by the steam tug Royal
May 24. ā 96 tubs spirits, found sunk off Challaboro',
May 25. ā 128 pounds tobacco, seized on a ship at Liver-
pool (concealed in casks of biscuit).
July 30. ā 74 tubs, 31 flagons, and 8 half-flagons spirits,
seized on a vessel in the Itchen River (concealed under
concrete alcng the keelson).
October 15. ā 799 pounds of tobacco-stalks, seized on a
vessel off Challaboro', Devon. (The incorrigible Pep-
perell was concerned in this case. He had just been
released from prison ; see p. 346.)
October 29. ā Cutter Lion and 335 gallons spirits, seized
October. ā 1,038 pounds tobacco, seized at the Eastern
Counties railway station, London. (The goods had been
landed at Woodbridge, Suffolk, and forwarded by rail,
packed in hampers and advised as fish.)
November 18. ā The Deux Amis and 1,189 pounds
tobacco and cigars, seized at Jersey. (The goods were
intended for illegal exportation to France.)
November 27. ā 168 pounds tobacco, seized in a cab
outside the Liverpool docks.
November. ā 1,096 pounds tobacco, seized at Newry
on a vessel from Quebec. (Goods packed in 24 casks
December 10. ā The Aide de Famille and 370 pounds
tobacco, seized at Alderney. (Goods for illegal exporta-
tion to France.)
i849] HUGE SEIZURES 349
The largest seizure that we find in 1849 is that made by
the Vigilant revenue cruiser in Sea Reach (Thames), on
December 13. The Vigilant' s crew boarded an ordinary
saihng-barge, the Charlotte, took off her hatches, and
found in the hold a number of casks, containing in all
14,402 pounds tobacco. This seizure was returned as
' made without information,' but we think it strange that
a boy who was employed on the barge, and who was
exempted from proceedings because he was under sixteen,
bore the same Christian and surname as the mariner on
the Vigilant who suggested that the barge should be
searched. The following awards were made to the seizers :
To the master of the Vigilant, Ā£431 ; gunner, boatswain,
carpenter, and steward, Ā£86 each ; five mariners, Ā£-^0
each ; seven boys, Ā£21 each ; and Ā£^0 to the ship's company
as ' head-money.'
The seizure report from Falmouth for the period ex-
tending from November 12 to 30, 1849, is quite remark-
able, and bears testimony to the industry and skiU of the
rummaging officers. We reproduce it :
Two pounds tobacco seized ashore from a seaman ;
50 pounds tobacco and i pound tea, seized on board the
Alchemist (vessel detained and fined) ; 13 pounds tobacco,
seized on board the Aghios Spiridion (vessel detained and
fined) ; 22 pounds cigars and 9 pounds tobacco, seized
on board the Peppina (vessel detained and fined) ;
8 pounds cigars on a further search of the Peppina ;
2 pounds cigars and 3 pounds tobacco on board the
Susan ; 9 pounds cigars, seized on board the Vasilachi ;
4 pounds cigars, seized on board the Parraghia Evan-
gelistica ; 46 pounds cigars and 162 pounds tobacco on a
further search (vessel detained and fined) ; 82 pounds
tobacco seized on board the Alexandra (vessel detained
and fined). Five of the above were Greek vessels.
The gradual transference of Customs control to the
various colonial Governments is made apparent in the
seizure records of the time by a tendency on the part of
the London Customs lawyers to ' unload ' many of their
350 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1849-50
responsibilities. Thus, when a seizure of sixteen cases
tobacco was made at Quebec on November 8, 1849, on
board the schooner Niger, from Cape Breton, the case was
dealt with by the provincial Government, the goods being
restored on condition that the defendant paid the duty
and costs, and 10 dollars as a ' satisfaction ' to the seizing
officer. When an account of the case was sent to Thames
Street, the Solicitor remarked upon the papers that it
was no longer necessary to report Canadian seizures to
the Board. (He meant ' revenue seizures ': cases under
the Navigation and Fishery laws were still reported.)
Seizure notes continued to flow in from the Antipodean
colonies. Below is the list from Port Adelaide, October 24,
1849, to May I, 1850 : 160 pounds tobacco, concealed in
an imported case of crockery ; 168 pounds tobacco, con-
cealed in an imported cask of soda ; a quantity of rings
and fancy wares, and two trunks of boots, not reported ;
2,500 cigars, seized at a wharf ; 60 pounds cigars, seized
in a shop ; 20 pounds cigars, seized on board the Arnicas ;
181 pounds cigars, concealed in imported packages of
The regulations as to boats, etc., were remodelled by
Board's circular of April 26, 1850 (in consequence of the
provisions of Sees. 16 and 17, Cap. 90, 12 and 13 Vict.).
In their new form they stood thus :
Class. Scope of Traffic.
(Only 4 leagues seaward between
Beachy Head and North
Foreland. On the rest of the
coast, 8 leagues seaward.
Along the coast, 50 leagues.
' Only 4 leagues seaward between
Open or half-decked boats
above 15 tons.
Decked vessels under 40 tons, ^
and all vessels less than 170
tons, whose length is to the
Beachy Head and North
Foreland. On other coasts,
12 leagues seaward. Along
the coast, 80 leagues.
Only 4 leagues seaward between
Beachy Head and North
breadth greater than 3 feet | Foreland. On other coasts,
6 inches to i foot (except except^ m the Irish Sea, only
steam vessels). j 12 leagues.
1850] SEIZURES AND REGULATIONS 351
No vessel less than 170 tons might carry arms for resist-
ance in excess of two muskets to every five men. (Any
vessel might have one carriage gun, without shot, for
signalling.) The maximum number of men and boys as
crew was stipulated.
Below are a few remarkable seizures made in the United
Kingdom during 1850 :
January 24. ā The cutter Mary, seized off Shields with
7,187 pounds tobacco-stalks and 323 pounds tobacco.
February 14. ā 70 tubs spirits, seized ashore at Babbi-
February 23. ā A large quantity of adulterants, seized
on a tobacco manufacturer's premises at Bristol.
March 21. ā A French cutter, captured off Lulworth,
after she had thrown her cargo overboard during chase.
March 29. ā The Rob Roy cutter, seized off Shields with
8,210 pounds tobacco.
April 2. ā 589 pounds tobacco, found in a cave near
Marsden Rock, in the Shields district.
May 14. ā 412 pounds tobacco, seized at Leeds.
(The goods had been imported in cases of glass at
May 23, 25, and various subsequent dates. ā About
8,000 pounds tobacco-stalks, seized at Bristol and Aber-
thaw. (Run by the schooner Wave, and afterwards
captured by search. Probably only part of the consign-
July 12 and 13. ā An immense quantity of coffee and
sugar, seized at Liverpool for having been tampered with
while in bond. (Connected with the famous ' Duncan
Stewart ' case.)
August 3. ā The French lugger Georges, captured in the
English Channel after she had run her cargo. (Crew
August 8. ā The smack Zoe, with 3,098 pounds tobacco-
stalks, seized in Dartmouth Harbour.
August 27. ā 170 gallons spirits, seized in an outhouse
352 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1850
October i. ā The oyster-smack Rival, seized in Chichester
harbour, while towing 13 tubs spirits.
November i. ā 160 pounds cigars, seized by excise officers
at Monkwearmouth railway station.
Several seizures were made in Scotland of smuggled
silks which were being hawked by pedlars, and at Deal
no less than three important seizures of tobacco which
had been brought on board Belgian pilot-cutters. The
largest seizure we find in the 1850 file is that made on Sep-
tember 13, on board the sloop Sarah and Susannah, at
Goole. This vessel arrived with a cargo of flints, and
the master produced his cargo-book, which showed
that he had taken them in at Ramsgate. It was soon
manifest that he had since made a trip oversea, for
beneath the flints the officers found 15,452 pounds of
tobacco and tobacco-stalks. The captain absconded.
His \vife, who was on board during the voyage, the mate,
and the solitary seaman who formed the ' crew,' were
arrested. The lady was acquitted, it being held that she
had acted under her husband's influence. The mate and
sailor were convicted, and while in prison they gave
information which led to the arrest of the master, and
the financier of the venture, a person living at Yarmouth.
On March 31, 1850, the principal coast officer (Customs)
at Brighton saw four tubs floating at some distance from
the shore. The weather was so rough that the coast-
guardsmen refused to launch their boat, but the plucky
officer induced four fishermen to get a boat out, put to
sea, with a tide-waiter as coxswain, and secured the tubs,
which contained spirits. He then asked the Board that
the fishermen might be paid for the risk and trouble,
and concerning this request there was almost as much
discussion and circumlocution, between the Solicitor and
the Accountant-General, as though demand had been
made for the whole of the contents of the Treasury. In
the end the fishermen got los. each for risking their
boat and lives.
The case of Mr. Hyams furnishes proof of the extra-
1850] PASSENGERS AND OFFICERS 353
ordinary persistency of the Jewish race in cases where
money's worth is concerned. Hyams landed at Folkestone
on October 20, 1850, and omitted to declare certain new
articles of apparel which were distributed in his baggage.
The officers detained them, and Hyams proceeded to
bombard the Board with explanations and petitions.
Then he applied to Baron Lionel de Rothschild, who was
good enough to refer the matter to Mr. Spring Rice at the
Treasury. An exhaustive investigation was held by the
Board, and the seizure was confirmed. Mr. Hyams,
when the inquiry was concluded, expressed himself
satisfied. A few daj^s after he fired a parting shot in
the shape of a letter, charging the officers with mis-
It is possible that the Folkestone officers may have
been extremely strict, for just previous to the detection
of Mr. Hyams the following letter had reached the
' Folkestone, Kent,
' September, 1850.
' My Lords and Gentlemen,
' I beg most earnestly to call your Lordships'
attention to the character, cast, disposition, and deport-
ment of the men engaged here by the Customs as tide-
waiters, rummagers, and boatmen ; the latter are black-
guardly, insolent, and abusive, and the former appear to
be the very refuse of God's creation ā uncultivated,
unclean, and obscene, both in their conduct, address,
and manner ; indeed, they are the very scum of the
community, a perfect disgrace to your Lordships, as
well as to Her Majesty's Service.
' These men assume and take upon themselves more
than they are either authorized or entitled to do in their
capacity as underlings, and to this there appears to be
neither bounds nor check, as they continue in the daily
practice of heaping abuse and calumny on all those whose
lot or business calls them to travel between this country
and the Continent ; they are also meddling, offensive,
354 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1850
and atrociously wicked, and are each and every one of
them addicted to the vile practice of smoking while on
duty, etc., etc.
' Your Lordships' most obedient servant,
' A Traveller and Sojourner
IN Her Majesty's Service.'
Sad to state, this stirring appeal, fortified as it was by
a choice ' derangement of epitaphs,' failed to secure the
dismissal of the Customs staff.
Among many curious items in the various seizure lists
for 1850 we observe one at Dover of seventeen turkeys
seized for not being reported, appraised value Ā£5 4s.,
duty 5s. 2d., and a petition by a seaman of the Washington
Irving, an American vessel lying at Liverpool. 150 pounds
tobacco had been found on board, and the ship's officers
put the blame upon the petitioner, who was fined ;^ioo,
and imprisoned in default. He stated that the charge
against him was the result of conspiracy, he being the
only Britisher in the crew. He asked the Board to
release him, stating that if this were granted he would
' in future years pray for the welfare of this Great Realm
and its Sovereign.'
Whenever a native of Deal was convicted of smuggling
it was the practice of the inhabitants of that town to
sign a huge memorial to the Treasury, describing him as
a respectable citizen, a devoted husband, a tender father,
and, so far as the smuggling was concerned, a victim of
delusive appearances. It may be mentioned also that
it was the invariable custom of the Treasury to refuse to
release him, but it does not appear that this in any way
discouraged the worthy burgesses. One of these futile
petitions was forwarded in 1850 on behalf of the crew
of the galley Lucy Long, who had been in the habit of
using cigars as ballast. It was backed up by Lord
Clarence Paget, who stated that he had been instigated
by ' a large and respectable portion of his constituents,
of all shades of political opinion.'
1850] DEAL, BRISTOL, AND WALES 355
In August, 1850, the tide-surveyor at Bristol received
information of an intended run. He impressed a yawl
and two fishermen, went afloat, and seized the Henri, a
French cutter, with 6,632 pounds tobacco and stalks
on board. The Board awarded Ā£456 for this seizure,
Ā£228 of which went to the tide-surveyor, and Ā£9 for
division between the yawl-owner and the two fishermen.
The fishermen complained to the Rev. Mirehouse, vicar
of St. George's, and he reported the facts of the case to the
Treasury, making it evident that the men had rendered
most valuable assistance. The Board directed the officers
to pay the men an additional Ā£20.
On December 12, 1850, certain excise officers found
under a hedge in front of a house near PenypistiU,
Pembrokeshire, two cellars, containing in all sixteen
bales of tobacco-stalks. Later they searched a farmer's
premises, and found a cellar in the garden, beneath a bed
of leeks, and another beneath the stable. These contained
twenty-two bales. Total quantity seized, 2,153 pounds.
The officers stated these seizures were m.ade without
information, but on inquiry it became apparent that this
was false. The magistrates refused to convict, stating
that there was no proof that the party charged had put
the goods in the cellars.
During the same year two excise officers found a tub of
spirits in a fishmonger's shop in Lower Thames Street,
London, and a letter from Ljrmington, Hants, sent as
invoice. They wrote under a feigned name to the sender,
and ordered five tubs more, then proceeded to Lymington,
watched his premises, and found that he was being sup-
phed by ' the s,' a notorious family of smugglers.
After watching for some time they made a search, and
found the five tubs they had ordered. They then sum-
moned to their assistance the excise supervisor of the
district, the men of the coastguard, and a constable, and
proceeded to search the houses occupied by the s.
The search was fruitless as regarded contraband, but the
officers persevered until they reached the cottage occupied
356 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1850
by ' Old ,' a well-known desperado. Here they
were richly rewarded indeed. They forced an entrance,
one of the London excisemen, armed with a naked sword,
leading the charge. Old was at the top of the stair-
case, provided with several utensils full of filth, which he
discharged upon the heads of the revenue men. Un-
daunted by this unsavoury fusillade, the leading excise-
men rushed up the stair and gained the landing. Then
graciously permitted the search to proceed. ' The
scene indoors,' stated the chief officer of coastguard in
his report, ' was too disgusting to be described.' Old
was exchequered for his complicity in the smuggling,
and imprisoned, but speedily released by Treasury Order.
This clemency may have been the result of a memorial
sent to the Board of Excise, signed by the mayor of
Lymington and several justices of the peace, in which the
officers were stigmatized as agents provocateurs, who had
' inveigled and tricked ' and others into defrauding
the revenue. The smuggler's note to the London fish-
monger may be found interesting :
' 12 pr. of Soles ā if Cod is very cheap send. I
have not received any orders this week we have got so
many Herring boats heare. I have ' [sent one] ' as a
sampal the price is Ā£;^ los. You must mix it in this way.
A large pan put 4 quarts and a pint of nice clean water.
Tipe out about half the spirits and mix it well and then j: d
4 quarts and i pint more of water and ad the other spir: .
you will find it quite strong enough. Should you like
2 more I can send them. It will make altogether 22
quarts of Hollands the longer kept the better it gets you
ma}^ look out for it tomorrow morning.'
(The tub was sent in a hamper, packed with lish.)
Extraordinary tactics on the part of seizing officers,
both at home and in the colonies, were frequently brought
to the notice of the Board. A case in which Mr. Munro,
I850] MUNRO OF TORTOLA 357
the collector of Tortola, was implicated, cannot well be
passed over ; it displays so fully the crooked dealings of
some of the colonial officials. The collector had informed
the Board that wrecks frequently occurred on the shores
of Anegada, and that the Anegadians made a practice
of laying hands upon the goods that came ashore, and
smuggling them into the foreign islands adjacent. On
January 26, 1850, an American brig, with a valuable
cargo, went on the shoals, and although all the cargo
was salved, only a part of it reached the Tortola Custom-
house. The collector informed the Board that this was
due to the obstinacy of the captain, who had refused to
pay for a customs officer to guard the wreck.
It should be mentioned that Munro had previously
given the Board much trouble. In 1846 he had been
charged by one of his subordinates with buying two
wrecked ships, and then repairing and selling them, with
importing goods without paying duty, and with infringing
the rules which prohibited customs officers from inter-
fering in elections. The President of the island, Mr. Hay,
had censured him, and the Board had concurred. But
Munro had in a way got even with the President, by
proving that the latter had illegally exempted himself
from paying provincial tonnage dues, and by detecting
him in a smuggling transaction, and making him pay the
duty on the goods. The President had thereupon sum-
moned Munro before the Privy Council of the island,
but Munro stuck to his guns and to the duty, although one
of the members of the Council accused him openly of
having condoned a smuggling transaction in which he (the
member) had taken part. After much mud had been
thrown on both sides the matter was allowed to drop, and
it might be thought that Mr. Munro would be more care-
ful in future. But a study of the Anegada wreck case
reveals that he could not refrain from meddling.
The most convincing and amusing portion of the
Anegada report was the American captain's statement.
He deposed that after the goods salved had been put in the
358 TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1850
Tortola Custom-house he took up his quarters at an hotel.
He had not been there long ere ' a stout loquacious indi-
vidual ' called on him, and ' in a soft and insinuating
manner ' warned him against putting his affairs in charge
of one of the ordinary shipping agents, stating that the
said agents would render but ' a Flemish account ' of the
wrecked goods, and leave him with scarcely enough
money to pay his passage home. The stranger also
suggested that Munro should be made agent, as he would
do the work free of charge. All this, the oily interviewer
explained, in the way of Christian charity. ' I tell you
what it is, sir,' replied Captain Jacob A. Cobb, ' your
advice is too disinterested for me,' and with that escorted
him to the door. There the captain observed a gentleman
waiting outside, undoubtedly Munro. Captain Cobb also
accused Munro of allowing the inhabitants of Tortola to
plunder the wrecked goods after they had been put in the
Queen's Warehouse. ' For the first two or three days,' he
stated, ' there was a grand jubilee at Tortola.' It was
admitted that a considerable quantity of wine had been
consumed, but the agent chosen by the skipper came to
Munro's rescue, and stated that the wine was distributed
as samples, to induce bidding at the sale. The President
of the island sent the captain's complaint to the Treasury,
but could not refrain from displaying some little vindic-
tiveness, which probably assisted in securing Munro's
partial exoneration. The matter fizzled out in the end,
after discrediting everyone concerned except the un-
fortunate captain, who, it seems, had merely escaped the
winds and waves to fall into peril from the fangs of a nest
Two Mauritius merchants cleared 48 hogsheads of
brandy duty-free from bond, for exportation from Port
Louis to Madagascar. The goods were shipped, and
during the night the parties concerned emptied twenty-
three of the casks, removed the contents ashore, and filled
the casks with water. The officers heard of this too late
to capture the run goods, but they went on board and
1850-51] MAURITIUS AND ENGLAND 359
seized the balance. Action was entered against the
merchants in the Vice-Admiralty Court of the island, and
the bond entered into for due exportation of the goods
was adjudged forfeited, but it does not appear that the
merchants were made liable to any other penalty. The
sureties were unable to pay, and the Customs lawyers in
London made severe remarks upon the collector's neglect
to inquire into the sufficiency of the sureties before
accepting the bond.
Below are a few of the important seizures made in the
United Kingdom during 1851 :
January 6. ā 2,643 pounds tobacco seized at Liverpool,
concealed behind false bulkheads in master's state-room,
on board the Warrior from New York.
March 6. ā The Linnet (coaster), seized at Southampton,
with 6,165 pounds tobacco-stalks.
March. ā A large quantity of tobacco and snuff seized at
Jersey and Shoreham, concealed in hollow chimbs of casks
May 9. ā 468 pounds tobacco and 9 gallons spirits,
seized at Yarmouth, concealed on board a foreign
May 29. ā The hatch-boat Fanny, with 7,395 pounds
tobacco, seized near the Galloper Light.
June 4. ā 200 pounds tobacco, seized by the police at
June 29. ā An open boat and 621 pounds tobacco-stalks,
seized off Salcombe. (Pepperell's wife implicated.)
July 3. ā Horse, van, and 649 pounds tobacco-stalks,
seized at St. Budeaux.
July 4. ā 654 pounds tobacco, seized by excise officers in
a wood near Eggbuckland, Devon.
July. ā 98 bales tobacco-stalks (say about 5,000 pounds),
seized near Tamerton Folliott, Devon. (Seizing officer
censured for suppressing the fact that he had received
September 24. ā The smack Defiance, seized at the Nore
by the revenue cruiser Fly, with 6,152 pounds tobacco.
36o TOWARDS FREE TRADE [1851
September 27. ā A galley and 79 tubs spirits, seized off
November 30. ā 124 tubs spirits, found floating off Lang-
December 16. ā 4,488 pounds tobacco, seized at ' Fox's
Barn,' Nacton, Suffolk. (A run of more than twice that
quantity had been made previously at Trimley.)
December 26. ā A French ' tub-boat,' seized off Portland,
with 75 tubs and i flagon spirits.
A huge run of tobacco-stalks took place early in the
year in the vicinity of Brixham. The customs officer
stationed at that cosy port came to hear of the transaction,
and instituted a search. He found fifty-nine bales in a
carrier's stable, thirty-nine buried in a garden belonging
to a local shipwright, and twenty-nine in a hayloft and
stable at a farm in the neighbourhood. Total quantity
seized = 6,619 pounds.
On March 13 the coastguard at Deal seized twenty-four
stone bottles of spirits, which a boatman was trying to run.
The boatman drew a knife, and made desperate attempts
to stab the chief coastguard officer. He was overpowered,
and then his mother and sisters attempted to rescue him.