Collector to Board Letters Book 1808 - 1809


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/20, words are shown in italics in case of doubt. Items in blue are additional or background information. I do not accept any responsibility for any inaccuracies.


 26 May 1808                 As permitted by your Order of 25 March last increasing the allowance for Stationery from £10 to £15, we applied to George Dickens Esq. Comptroller of the Stationery Office for the following Articles:

1½ Ream Foolscap best sort

2½ Ream best Pat best sort

150 best Clarified Pens

12 black Lead Pencils

Amounting to Five Pounds, the annual quantity for £10 having been before received, to which no answer has been given, nor to other Letters we since wrote him on the subject.

As our stock of Paper is nearly exhausted, we humbly request your Honors further Orders – to the Stationery Office for supplying us with the additional Allowance before mentioned.


30 May 1808                 The care of nine Condemned Boats particularized in the Inclosed Accounts being attended with inconvenience & some expense in bad weather – We humbly request your Honors Orders for breaking up or selling the same. Six having been reported by us as being fit only for Smugling & the other three for other purposes.


31 May 1808                 Mr Robert Sherlock, Mate of the Leopard Revenue Cutter having on 18th March last seized the Nimble Lugger of Bere, laden with 201 small Casks of Foreign Spirit and Mr Thomas Amos, Commander of the Swallow Cutter & Mr William Ferris, Commander of the Stork Cutter in conjunction having on the 11th Inst. seized a Lugger with 135 small casks of Spirit – the Rewards for the men captured on board these vessels particularized in the Account and Certificates enclosed allowed under the 47 of the King Chapter 66 are thereby craved for by the men.


27 June 1808                 Mr William Holloway, Searcher at this Port being desirous of One Months leave of Absence from 6 July ensuing when his export account for the Quarter will be made up and delivered. Inclosed we transmit to your Honors his application for the same & beg to add the last Indulgence granted him by the Honble Board was on 13 September 1803 for one month, which is respectfully submitted.    


28 June 1808                 As directed by your Honors we transmit a certified record of the Baptism of George Snook nominated to be a Tidewaiter at this port in the room of Daniel Dore deceased and hereby report the said Snook is active and capable of performing the Duty to which he is so nominated. He can read sufficiently to keep the books directed to be kept by Tidesmen stationed on board ships, is a sober man and has not been known to be concerned in smuggling.


28 June 1808                 In obedience to your honors orders we transmit an account of twenty casks containing One thousand nine hundred and twenty three Gallons Brandy, Ninety seven Gallons Rum, Three hundred and eighty Gallons Geneva Foreign Seized and Condemned Spirits shipped on board the Four Friends of this port, William Oake, Master, for London for the conveyance of which an agreement of freight has been made amounting to Ten Guineas to be paid on delivering the goods in London similar accounts to the inclosure have been transmitted as directed to the Warehousekeeper and accountant of petty receipts.


18 July 1808   William Ferris to the Collector        In answer to the Secretary’s Letter relating to the Captures & Seizures made by the late Swan Cutter under my command while she was under the direction of Admiral Lord Keith, I beg leave to acquaint you for their Honors information the money received by us arising from seizures amounted to Eight hundred & nine pounds seventeen shillings – I beg leave to add that no benefit arising from Captures or otherwise excepting the beforementioned Sums for seizures have been received by us during that time. [This was forwarded to the Board.]


18 July 1808                  The Stork Cutter Commanded by William Ferris being in want of a general refit, a new Mainsail and Foresail & sundry Cordage as particularized in the within statement. Herewith we transmit Commander Ferris’s crave for the same, together with an estimate for the Cordage.


19 July 1808                  In return to your Order of Enquiry of yesterday we report that it is not our practice to place any Tidewaiter at the Out Stations within this Port for the purpose of being boarded on Ships from foreign parts. It seldom happens that Ships arriving from abroad come to Anchor at any other place within this Port than Cowes Road. At Yarmouth Creek of this District Ships sometimes drop Anchor from necessity when prevented by the Tide & Weather from proceeding to their destination in which case the Sitter of the Six Oared Boat there stationed has placed one of his Crew on board each Ship for the Security of the Revenue during her stay without any additional Expense to the Crown. 


21 July 1808                  Several Mariners belonging to the Stork & Fox Cruizers in the Service at this Port being in want of Protections, we beg leave to transmit a List of them on the back hereof, humbly craving that they may be forwarded as early as possible.






Cutter and Commanders Names








John Regler






Stork Cutter

Mr William Ferris Senior


William Hardy





Richard Roberts





Robert Simons





Bernard Hawkins






Peter Barret






Fox Cutter

Mr James Turner Commander

William Spicer







8 August 1808               In return to your Order of enquiry of 6 Inst on our representation of 3 June last submitting that the Leopard Cutter removed to Harwich on the Coast of Suffolk & the Lion Cutter removed to Whitby on the Coast of Yorkshire may be paid by the Officers of the Ports at which they are respectively stationed.

We report that our reason for submitting such payments, that there will be inconvenience in the Commander transmitting at the end of each Quarter, from such a great distance to Cowes, the Journals of their Cutters to be Inspected by us & the impossibility on our part to detect Errors in said Journals, neglect of Duty, or incorrect complement of Men (if such should be the case) with the facility that the Collectors & Comptrollers of Harwich & Whitby may.

We also submit for your Honors consideration that much risk as well as Inconvenience will attend the transmission of Receipts & Vouchers from Harwich & Yorkshire by the different Coaches through London & in addition to the loss of time in paying the Cutters at the end of each Quarter, the Collector has no other means of remitting the Commissioners but by Bills at 30 days late, aware that prompt Payment stimulate Officers to active Duty, the following Cutters Viz. Tiger, Stork, Drake & Fox  were paid immediately on the Officers presenting themselves at the Office, and exhibiting their Journals, ten days before the receipt of the Establishment of the Port or the Imprest was furnished with money for that purpose & so done with the view that the Cutters may not be detained in Port, proceed on their respective Cruizes.


18 August 1808             We transmit Inclosed a Letter from Mr James Ferris of the Stork Cutter requesting your Honors to accept his resignation of Deputed Mariner on board said Cutter he having an opportunity of benefiting his situation in Life.


29 August 1808             Pursuant to your Order of the 6th February last, William Arnold Deputed Mariner of the Fox Cutter on the 27th of that month took charge of the Six Oared Boat at Yarmouth in the Room of Robert Willis, permitted to return to his Duty.

And having acted as Sitter on the Boat six Months – we report in obedience to your directions that said Arnold has seized in said space Two hundred and Thirty two Gallons Foreign Spirit and from his dedication has by the appearance of the Boat other running their crops from the Needles and the North Shore.


12 September 1808        In return to your Order of 10 Instant signifying that on 10 July last at the closing of our Accounts there was £2750 – 19 – 2¾ in the Collectors Hands, we have to respectfully to inform your Honors that a far less Sum at that period was due from the Collector for the retention of which he trusts a satisfactory reason was assigned on the Monthly Abstract.

At the close of our Accounts 31 August last a balance of £2011 – 15 – 2¼ arising from the receipt of Customs, was stated in the Account Current for that month to be due to the Crown & on the face of the Abstract we noted that it was retained to pay the Leopard, Hope & Lion Cutters, pursuant to your Honors Order of 26 Ulto as well as Seizure Rewards fro Condemned Spirits & Tradesmens Bills then due & applied for, from this Balance the following payments have been made Viz:

7 Sepr

Leopard Cutter at Harwich Wages & Victualling due the 5 July last

£436 – 15 – 8

7 Sepr

Robert Sherlock Reward for seized Spirits

£204 – 2 – 11½

7 Sepr

William Bourne Reward for seized Spirits

£169 – 0 – 4½

10 Sepr

Hope Cutter Beaumaris Wages & Victualling due the 5 July last

£320 – 6 – 0

10 Sepr

Tradesmens Bills

£105 – 14 – 6¾

10 Sepr

Advanced to Tidesmen

£71 – 0 – 0

10 Sepr

Advanced to Seamens Allotments

£40 – 0 – 0


Carried Forward

£1346 – 19 – 6¾

Payments to be made as soon as receipts are received and are expected by Coach

Lion Cutter Wages & Victualling due the 5 July last

£436 – 0 – 0

Seizure Rewards to Captains Amos, Ferris & Blake & sundry other Officers for Spirits Condemned & ready for to ship for London

£700 – 0 – 0


£2402 – 19 – 6¾


£2011 – 15 – 2¼

Excessive Balance retained

  £471 – 4 – 4½


In discharge of which only £48 has been received since the 31 Ulto. With respect to the Balance of £719 – 6 – 9½ on the abstract of Petty Receipts arising from the Sale of Salt & Condemned in Trinity Term 1807 we have to inform your Honors we have not been able to make out the Seizure Accounts for want of the Law Charges from Mr Cooper, as this has been a litigated case of long standing, but even if the Account was made out there would be little balance we apprehend to remit to the Crown, as we have been making Payments out of the Kings Share pursuant to your Honors Orders Viz Captain Blake £95 – 13 – 0 & several other Bills which when deducted with Law Charges would leave but little to remit, it being a Moiety Seizure.

We beg leave to refer to Mr Cooper for his Account of the Prosecution of this Seizure & that you will please direct the Law Charges to be submitted without delay to enable us to proportion the Seizure proceeds & pay the Money to the Crowns Officers.


27 September 1808        Mr William Oake the Master of the Four Friends Coaster belonging to this Port and the only regular one that conveys goods immediately from Cowes to London has refused to ship any more condemned spirit from the warehouse here on account of the difficulty he states of obtaining freight in London and unpleasant complaints about leakage and deficiencies. We are at a loss for a mode whereby to transmit to your Honors 1060 Gallons of condemned spirit seized at this port.


30 September 1808        The TideSurveyors boat being in want of mooring ropes, inclosed we submit the ropemakers estimate for supplying the same at London price which is humbly requested to be allowed for the good of the service.


7 November 1808           Inclosed we transmit a return of Seizures since our letter of 13 October last. Seizure No. 2 enumerated we have to apprise your Honors, was made from the Information of a Seaman on board the Tender belonging to the Tesiphone, Guard Ship at the Needles, Commanded by Captain Foote, after such recent Injunctions from the Lords of the Admiralty to their Officers for their further aid in the suppression of smuggling, that involves it in the integrity of Navy Officers & the delusive dependence the Revenue has placed on their co-operative support. The information received by the Collector was that this Tender was in the practice of going to Guernsey or Alderney for Wine & Spirits ostensibly for the use of the Tesiphone – but part of it was run at times on shore, and that three weeks back 2 Casks of prohibited Spirit were landed by the Tender Boat near the Needles for the use of Lieut. Soley commanding the Signal Port at Freshwater.

Following this communication the Collector directed Messrs Robey & Snudden to obtain from a Magistrate a Search Warrant & in executing it they found two Casks one containing 4 Gallons Geneva, the other empty, the identical ones Run from the Tender as acknowledged by Lieut. Soley, with 6½ lbs tobacco & 5½ lbs Tea. The situation and station of the Signal Officer is particularly favourable for detecting Contraband Traders, we did hope after the issuing of the Signals and the personal communication between our Revenue Officers themselves, that much good might have resulted from his obedience to the Admiralty Orders, whereas on the contrary if he has been accustomed to encourage the improper conduct of the Tesiphone’s Tender, we fear there is much reason to believe he has facilitated Smugling practices rather than defeated them. We think that with this submission to your Honors that this case should be fully enquired into & the Informer who your Collector can name should through your interception be removed from the Tender. Why the Tesiphone’s Officers should prefer buying their Wines at Guernsey when so near to Portsmouth, where they can have them free of Duty requires some explanation.


19 November 1808         Pursuant to yours Honors order of 14 October last, we yesterday sent to Portsmouth addressed to the care of the Collector & Comptroller the Condemned Spirits mentioned in the Inclosed Sheet, which we have since heard, are forwarded to the Warehousekeeper at Custom House, London in the Friendship  Coaster William Warner Master & that the Freight agreed for the same on delivery is Six Guineas.


9 December 1808           In obedience to your Order of the 6 Inst. on the practice of discharging Tradesmen’s Bills. We report that on receipt of your Honors Order for payment & money is in the Chest, the Collectors Clerk prepares the vouchers for the several Tradesmen to sign, he makes out a list of Claimants & delivers the same to the Messenger who calls on the Parties & desires them to attend the Custom House and receive their Money. The only circumstances under which an over credit was taken has been where £286 – 0 – 4¼ was ordered by your Honors for Payment and Vouchers for the non appearance of the Tradesmen at the Office, could be procured for £212 – 1 – 2½ prior to sending off the Monthly Account thereby leaving an unintentional above credit of £73 – 19 – 1¾ but which was immediately afterwards paid. Had we been aware the Tradesmen would not have attended in time, the Collector would only have taken credit for the £212 – 1 – 2½ actually paid as is customary practice, a reason would have been stated on the account that the said £73 – 19 – 1¾ was retained to pay Tradesmen’s Bills. But we beg to submit it is more regular & simplifies much the Accounts of the Incident Book when credit can be taken for the whole of the set of Tradesmen’s Bills in one Month instead of taking credit twice provided the payment can be made & vouchers procured. Our Incident Book & all Vouchers are forwarded to your Honors within Twenty days of the Receipt of the Establishment for the Port & we flatter ourselves that on inquiry of the Proper Officer a favourable report of its accuracy would be the result, to which we take occasion to add that no Bill is outstanding at this Port against the Crown for which credit has been taken.


13 December 1808         The undermentioned Books being wanted for the Service at this Port, we humbly crave to be supplied with the same.

2 Books 3 quires each for Salaries and Incident Books

6 Books 3 quires each for Coast Books

1 Dozen Coal Meters Books

6 Marble Covered Books for Petty Cash Books


16 December 1808         In return to your Order of Enquiry of 14 November we beg leave solemnly to assure your Honors, that we cannot in any degree Conscientiously reconcile the Affidavit of William Searle made respecting his vessel Favorite, with the Illicit Trade he has notoriously many years past, carried on at St Helens on this Island.

He is of a description that does not entitle him to leniency or indulgence, his known and only occupation being that of Smugling, to practice of which more daringly & with less risk he has lately removed purposely to Alderney. When an honest Man unintentionally gets into difficulty we are always inclined to recommend him to your Honors clemency, but our Duty on the other Hand impels us to point out such people as Searle as objects for severe prosecution.

The Licence for the Favorite was most wisely restricted by your Honors and she being detected in another, the Bond became forfeited, the express condition being “That she shall not be engaged for, or used in any Trade or Employment whatever other than that described and set forth is the said Licence” added to which she had two Boats, one of them of illegal dimensions, which forfeits the Vessel & everything on board.


19 December 1808         In obedience to your order we have prosecuted before the Justices James Callaway of St Hellens and herewith a copy of the adjudication against him by which your Honors will see that he has been convicted in the unmitigated penalty of £9–12–0 being the treble value of the goods found in his house and which at time of seizure he acknowledged to the Officers he had landed from the vessel Raymond. This vessel owned by James Callaway solely and registered in his name, has been applied for by a Mr Nicholas Oliver (a Gentleman we understand much connected at Alderney) who states “ that her detention will be attended with the most serious consequences” meaning we suppose that her being seized will interrupt her regular Voyages to that Island for contraband goods yielding belief therein, we repeat our entreaty that your Honors will be pleased to direct that the prosecution will go forward in the Court of the Exchequer against Callaway’s vessel Raymond for unshipping spirits at St Hellens Harbour.


27 December 1808         As directed by your Order of the 14 Inst. we immediately called on Captain Ferris of the Drake Cutter at Guernsey to state if he attended the weighing of the Cordage supplied to the Cutter & Charged in the Tradesmen’s Bills No. 4 in our letter of 2 Nov. last & herein we herein transmit his answer thereto, to which we have to add that it is our invariable rule to enjoin all Commanders of Cutters who have any articles at this Port to weigh, inspect & examine minutely the quality of the same previous to their being received on board & not to Certify any bill unless they are satisfied of its accuracy by a strict observance of which at this as well as at all other Ports in the interest of the Crown.        


29 December 1808         We have in the warehouse seventy-two packs of Playing Cards seized on 29 January 1807 by Robert Douglas, Mate of the Hope Cutter. Condemnation was in the Exchequer Easter Term 1807 and we pray your Honors to appraise the Commissioners thereof that they may give direction to some person to attend the burning of them and submit the appropriate certificate.


30 December 1808         As directed by your order regarding the Inventory of furniture belonging to the Crown we report that on the Collectors admission to the Office in the year 1801 an Inventory was then made of the several Articles of Furniture and Books the property of the Crown and inserted on a vacant part of the Order Book for that year where it now continues. [This book does not seem to have been preserved.]


4 January 1809              As directed by your Order of 2 Inst. regarding the expiring Laws, we report that we construe the words of the 9 Sect. of 32 of the King Chap. 50 to mean that security should be required from the Master of a Vessel previous to her being cleared or leaving Port, and as a Certificate of Registry is a necessary & legal Clearance, without which a Vessel cannot proceed to Sea or Coastwise, it has been our practice since the passing of the Act, to require the Bond from the Master of the Vessel, on a Certificate of Registry being granted, or a change of Master by Endorsement, whether the Vessel was intended to leave Port laden or in Ballast.

Had the required Security under the 9 Sect. been founded on the circumstances of taking in a Cargo we presume the consequent & conditional Words would have been “That no Goods shall be laden in any Vessel to be carried Coastwise ‘till Security in the Penalty of One Hundred Pounds shall be first given by the Master of the said Vessel” and as no such words appear we trust our construction of the beforementioned clause is correct. The effects of this on our practice have been the prosecution to Conviction the several Masters of Smugling Vessels at the foot hereof, from whom the Bond of the 32 of the King, never would have been taken if we had waited till they had applied at the Office for a Sufferance to carry the Goods Coastways. We believe the same Rule obtains at Liverpool in requiring the like Security from Masters of Vessels, but at Portsmouth we learn, the Officers do not consider the Bond in question to be due, unless a vessel takes in Goods to be carried Coastwise.

When Convicted Smuglers Name Penalty
1803   William March £100
1806  John Smith £100
1808  William Matthews, St. Hellens £100
1808 William Matthews, Nettlestone £100


11 January 1809            We submit a letter written by John Gale one of the mariners of the late Swan Cutter, a prisoner in France, in which he states that the boy John Jolliffe died the 8 January 1808 and was buried the following day. Mr Comben, John Gale and the Boy were the only persons captured in the Swan and we do not doubt the authenticity of Gales letter which is humbly submitted.


17 January 1809            Mr Robert Weatherhead, Collector of Excise for this District having yesterday called at this Office and presumptorily demanded your Honors Key to be taken off a Warehouse belonging to Mr Day, Merchant at this Port in which are deposited thirteen pipes containing nine hundred and eighty four gallons Brandy which have been in Custody since the 25 July 1794 stating that he had seized the same by an Order from his Board and that he wished to remove it to the Excise store.

We feel it our duty to refuse his request ‘til we had represented the case to your Honors and received your special direction thereon – these Brandies having originally been landed in virtue of a special Sufferance granted by the Collector and Comptroller of this Port (and not under any authority from the Excise) on the ship Campolican which brought them having arrived here in distress and the Goods having been in our Charge & Custody from the period of their being deposited in William Day’s Warehouse.

To put your Honors in possession of the Facts we respectfully submit a copy of a letter transmitted to the Honorable Board on 6th May 1805.

From the aforegoing statement and copies of your Honors Orders we humbly flatter ourselves that it will appear obvious that we have not been remiss in our attention to the case of these Brandies and if there is a course for forfeiture from the lapse of time they have remained in the Warehouse that we from the trouble we have had, and being the only Officers that could legally authorize by our Warrant the unloading of the Cargo are the persons that should benefit by their Condemnation.

The Brandies are, as we have already reported, are reduced in quantity by unavoidable leakage and waste from absorption of the Casks and not we verify from malpractice or Embezzlement and the Strength of the Spirit being not 1 in 4 under Hydrometer Proof they are not admissible to entry for the Duties.

We have therefore to pray your Honors interference with the Board of Excise to relinquish their intention of proceeding against the Goods in the Exchequer and that if there is course for forfeiture that we may be allowed to prosecute it your Honors Directions in our name the Goods having been in our Custody from the period of their being landed and since specifically retained under Kings Lock by your Honors respective Orders relating thereto. We have only further to submit if the Board of Excise should persist in their determination to Prosecute, if your Honors might not think proper through your Solicitor to prefer a claim in the Exchequer the ensuing term for the Brandies meanwhile we pray to receive your Honors early directions.  


18 January 1809            In obedience to your Order of 14 Inst we have called upon the Sub Commissioners for Pilotage at this Port for Duplicate Lists of pilots that have received Licences from the Corporation of the Trinity as enacted by the 59 Sect 48 Geo 3 Cap 104.


23 January 1809            In obedience to your Honors Orders of 18 September 1807 & 26 March 1808, Inclosed we transmit an Account of Five Casks quantity Two hundred & ninety five Gallons Brandy, eight Gallons & a half of Rum & eight Gallons & three fourths Geneva Seized & Condemned Spirits shipped on board the Nancy Benjamin Bevis Master, agreement of freight has been made amounting to Five Pounds & five Shillings to be paid on delivery of the Goods in London, similar accounts to the Inclosed have been transmitted as directed to the Warehousekeeper & Accountant of Petty Receipts.


31 January 1809            Captain Ferris by the Capture of the Swan Cutter, two Years ago having lost the Abstracts of sundry Revenue Laws, with which your Honors had thought fit to furnish him for his conduct in discharging his Duty, humbly prays that he may be provided with a fresh Sett & a Book of the 45 of the King Ch 10 with the several Quarantine Regulations now in force.


6 February 1809 Enclosed a letter from Captain Ferris of the Stork Cutter humbly representing that there are no moorings in Cowes Harbour for any of the Revenue Cutters & praying that your Honors will be pleased to approve of an Anchor with one Fluke being purchased & also Ten Fathoms of chain to be fixed in a proper place in the Harbour for the use of the Stork, or any other of your Revenue Cutters that may have occasion to come in to refit or any other necessary cause. From the information we have received on this subject, we are inclined to believe convenient it for the Service & advantageous to the Crown, as the Cutters Cables in the Harbour by extending over mud and gravel are unavailable from the nature of the Anchorage Ground, become much rubbed and more injured than when anchored in deeper water. The whole expense of the mooring will not exceed £30.

This Sum from the Preservation the Cables will receive, by not being used, will be saved we have no doubt in Twelve Months and as this proposition holds out to your Honors Cutters Security and Economy we humbly recommend its adoption.


11 February 1809           Payment of Two Hundred and Seventy Nine Pounds 12/6 being directed by your Honors to be made to the Seizing Officers on account of seizure rewards for condemned vessels and boats broken up and destroyed and there being no money in hand due to His Majesties arising from the produce of condemned goods out of which the said sum is directed to be paid. The Collector humbly prays the bill may be granted to him as the Receiver of Vessels to enable him to carry out your Honors order which is respectfully submitted.


3 March 1809                As directed by your order of yesterday on the nomination of Mr William Ralph to be Warehouse Keeper at this Port. We report that the said Ralph is rendered incapable of undertaking the Office by a rapid consumptive disease as from the assurance of the Faculty who attended him we learn that it is not possible he can survive many days which is respectfully submitted.


23 March 1809               Inclosed we transmit an application and Certificate from Mr James Day Junior, Merchant at this Port praying your Honors permission to Register De Novo the Smack Mayflower of Cowes, Seized by Mr James Sarmon Commander of the Duke of York Excise Cutter, for Illicit Trade, Condemned in the Court of the Exchequer in Easter Term 1808, and sold at Public Auction by the Officers of Excise the 10th day of April last to Mr Day.

Captain Sarmon informs us that the Register Licence, and other papers belonging to this Vessel were never delivered up by Joseph Hockey, the late Owner who was impressed into His Majesty’s Navy and sent from this Country.

The Mayflower Registered at this Office the 12 April 1807 and still continues on our Books.


15 March 1809               Mr William Holloway who has held since 28 November 1783 the Deputation Inclosed from the late Joseph Sherer Esq., Patent Searcher for the Ports of Southampton, Portsmouth and Cowes and now being appointed and nominated by Virtue of the Warrant of the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury dated 19 January 1809 Deputy Searcher, Assistant Landing Waiter and Surveyor of Warehouses at Cowes for which he has no Deputation. We humbly submit if said William Holloway should not be furnished with a new Commission to enable him to execute the several duties of his Office and also to attend the Execution of Writs of Appraisement from the Exchequer to whom on all occasions the Writs are addressed as well as to the Collector and Comptroller.


20 March 1809               We have to represent to your Honors that in December last a Ship called the Sally of New York, navigated with an American Master by the name of Dickinson & Mariners came into Cowes from Southampton (where she had discharged a Cargo) to wait for Orders from London. On the 17 of that month a violent Hurricane took place, drove the Sally from her Anchors, and Bilged her here on a Causeway within One hundred Yards of the Custom House where she now lies with her Masts, Topmasts and Rigging standing having been abandoned since the day of the accident by the Master and Crew, all of whom have returned to America. From the time of her being Bilged the Tidesurveyor has had our Instructions to visit the Property regularly, to affix a lock on the Hatchways for the Security of her Sails, and to prevent any Embezzlement of the Materials, but as it is impossible, from the Hull of the Sally being filled with Water every Tide, to keep an Officer on board, we apprehend some pilfering of the Rigging may take place. Considering it our Duty to enquire into the cause of the abandonment of this Ship, we learn from a respectable authority here that she is of foreign construction & that her Sails and Materials are also of Foreign Manufacture, very old and in a bad condition & was sold by a Mr Williams an American Merchant in London for £450 to a Mr Hove, a British Subject resident in London and that it is from a misunderstanding between the Parties that she is left in the situation before stated.

The transfer of Foreign Produce or Manufacture to a British Subject without payment of Duty thereon & without any intimation of paying them we consider a fraudulent transaction & submit if your Honors may not now direct the property to be sold at public Auction under the Regulations observed with respect to the Goods disposed of which have lain in the Warehouse unentered for the Duties upward of three Months or that she may be Seized by us and Prosecuted in the Exchequer for having evaded payment of his Majesty’s Duties.


6 April 1809                   We transmit Inclosed Captain Ferris’s return to your Honors Order of enquiry of 24 Ultimo respecting the state of the Copper on the bottom of the Drake Cutter.


7 April 1809                   The Officers named on the back hereof had Salaries on the Establishment prior to the extending of the Provisions of the 47 of the King Cap 51 to this Port … respectively under Sixty Pounds per annum and the Land Tax Assessment thereof paid by us in obedience to your Honors Half Yearly Order. We request to be informed, as to the Warrant of the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury date the 20th January last, directs the new Salaries the said Officers to be paid Net without deductions, whether we are to continue to pay the Land Tax Assessment to the parochial Receiver as heretofore, & to take credit for the Sum in our Account of Incidents.


14 April 1809                 Enclosed we submit an account of sundry Seizures of Tobacco and Snuff which have been put up for public sale and not selling for the duty have been burnt. The Seizure Rewards for the same amounting to One pound Ten shillings and Nine pence is respectfully submitted for payment.


24 April 1809                 As directed by your General Order of the 27th July last regarding Vessels arriving with the produce of Neath Abbey Colliery, we report that there has been no such Entry at this Port since your Honors Order neither has any Vessel arrived here from the Port of Swansea.


24 April 1809                 The Fox Cutter being in want of a small Boat, Inclosed we transmit an application from Mr James Turner the Commander humbly craving the same with an Estimate from a very reputable Builder who engages to produce the Boat complete for £10 – 15 – 1.


25 April 1809                 Pursuant to your Order of 5 Instant am the application of Mr James Day to Register Do Novo the Sloop Mayflower, Seized, Condemned & Sold at an Excise Auction. We transmit as Affidavit made by Mr William Corke to the Identity of said Vessel of which fact we have not the smallest doubt.


27 April 1809                 James Sammes & William Warder two Established Tidewaiters of the Port now boarded on the Portuguese Schooner Flora having represented to us that the Master refuses to allow them the Common Provisions of the Ship as they understand they have a right to demand agreeable to 13th Article of their Instructions.

We inclose to your Honors a copy of our Letter to Mr Day the agent to the Flora with his answer thereto humbly requesting your Directions thereon – it being impossible for a Tide Waiter in the present severe times to maintain himself on board Ship and his Wife and Family separate on shore at 3d per day. Prior to the late Regulations of the King Chapter 51 forbidding the Waterside Officers taking in Fee, Reward of Gratuity it was practice here for Tide Waiters to receive from Masters of Ships occasionally one shilling per Diem in lieu of Provisions at the Masters desire, but we do not think ourselves warranted in sanctioning this Custom any longer without your Honors special Directions. 


1 May 1809                   As directed by your Honors Order of 29 Ult. that it is our practice when Ships or Vessels Clear Outwards for the Mediterranean or the Barbary or any place declared by an Order of His Majesty in Council that subject Ships and Vessels to Quarantine to deliver to the Master an Abstract of the Quarantine Regulations and to take his receipt for the same.


4 May 1809                   In obedience to your Order of 2 Inst on the Surcharge made on the Collector by the Comptroller General for Monies which have been paid out of Customs on Account of Rewards and Poundages on Seizures & otherCharges thereon.

We report that the Sum of Four thousand four hundred ninety nine Pounds two Shillings and two Pence three farthings, which is stated to be Surcharged on the Collector of this Port remains unaltered by any subsequent payments out of the King’s Share of Fines or otherwise.

As further directed we Inclose an Account of Money paid by the Collector to defray Charges &c arising from Seizures since 5 January 1808 to 5 April 1809 with the dates of the Boards Orders for our Authority.


5 May 1809                   Yesterday died William Ralph, a Tidewaiter on the Establishment at this Port.


12 May 1809                 As directed by your Order of 10 Inst we report that Mr William Holloway was Deputy to the late Patent Searcher Joseph Sherer Esq. by appointment from the Patentee dated 28 November 1783.

He has also a Deputation from your Honors as Waiter & Searcher at this Port dated 21 November 1778.


16 May 1809                 Pursuant to your order we have now made enquiry of the Collector and Comptroller at Weymouth as to the age and qualifications of Mr Joseph Bezant nominated to be Mate of the Tiger Cutter in the Room of Peter Weston resigned & inclosed we transmit their Answers accompanied by a Certificate of Baptism by which it appears the said Mr Bezant is Thirty Years of Age & is lately returned from Spain as Master of a Brigantine now in the Port of London which is all the Information we can obtain respecting him.


2 June 1809                   Inclosed we submit the Surveying Officers Certificates to obtain your Honors Licences for 3 Vessels & 4 Boats belonging to this Port:

Smack Griffinet of Cowes     J White Esq Owner     Value £50
Smack Mayflower of Cowes J Blandford Esq Owner   Value £65
Smack Two Brothers of Cowes  J Wheeler Esq Owner  Value £150
Open Boat 4 Oars  Jacob Long Esq Owner Value £20
Open Boat 5 Oars Henry Caws Esq Owner  Value £25
Open Boat 5 Oars Anthony Caws Esq Owner  Value £25
Open Boat 5 Oars  Robert Williams Jun Esq Owner Value £40


12 June 1809                 We are requested by Mr William Ferris Junior to forward to your Honors the Inclosed report representing that the Drake Cutter under his Command received much damage by the Ship Louisa of Jersey, the property of Messrs. Janvein & Co parting her Cable & Drifting on Board her & praying your Honors Order for a general refit & to be new Coppered, the old being in a bad state.


13 June 1809                 As directed by your Order 8 Inst. we transmit a Certificate of the Registry of Baptism of William Miller nominated to be a Tidewaiter at this Port in the room of William Ralph deceased and we beg to report that the said Miller is active and capable of performing the Duty to which is nominated. He can read & write sufficiently to keep the Book directed to be kept by Tidesmen stationed on board Ships, is a sober Man, & has never been known to be concerned in Smugling.

Baptised at Newport 1 June 1783


14 June 1809                 In Obedience to your Order of 26 Ultimo on the subject of Smugling Vessels being hourly expected from Ports in Holland whose Cargoes were designed to be run on the Coast of this Kingdom, we report that on receiving your Honors said Order, no time was lost in complying with the Directions therein contained by communicating the same to the Land & Water guard of this Port with strong injunctions to keep a good look out for the return of said Vessels & to intercept & seize any Goods that may be attempted to be run from on board thereon, by nothing has arisen in consequence thereof in this neighbourhood.


17 June 1809                 We wish to inform your Honors that the Acting Collector at this port is subpoenaed on a trial against the Smack Rebecca under seizure at this port and is directed to attend you Honors solicitor on the morning of the 19 June. [The Acting Collector was John Powell.]


19 June 1809                 As permitted by your Honors Order of 5 January   last we transmit a Letter from Richard Comber late Mate of the Swan Cutter a Prisoner in France praying that his Salary may be paid to his four Children from the time of his Capture & continue hereafter Quarterly for their Support.


10 August 1809             Having received the enclosed from the Land Surveyor at this port stating that the Gauging instruments from the length of time they have been in service are incorrect and in want of repair and craving new ones in lieu of them we submit the same to your honours.


18 August 1809             The transient Spanish Ship San Joseph Gaspar, Esparano Master from Tarragona & Benacarto arrived at this Port last evening with a Clean Bill of Health bound to Cowes for Orders – In conformity with the 7 Section of His Majesty’s Order in Council of 5 April 1805 we have laid the above Ship under strict Restraint of Quarantine which will be enforced until your Honors Directions are received thereon. The Master & Crew are all well & inclosed we transmit Answers to the Written Questions made on Oath before the Superintendent as well as the Bill of Health.


6 September 1809             Having received the Inclosed Letter from Peter Parkes an Extra Tidesman at this Port on board the Ship Ubrica laden with Wine from Bordeaux detained by His Majesty’s ship Triphone, stating that he was obstructed & insulted in the execution of his Duty on board the said Ship on the 31 Ulto. By Mr Frampton of East Cowes & Mr MacDonald of the Triphone, we beg leave to transmit the same to what we most respectfully refer for your Honors Consideration & directions. [An Affidavit from him was submitted to the Board on 18 September.]


14 September 1809           Pursuant to your Order of 8 Instant we have this Day admitted James William Cuff to the situation of Mate of the Fox Cutter at present in the Service at this Port. [On 18 September Cuff was said to be Mate in Command.]


26 October 1809               Having received the inclosed Letter from Richard Chiverton Coastwaiter at Ryde craving the expenses incurred for conveying to the King’s Warehouse at this Port, a cable seized by him on 2 Inst. which by your Honors Order of the 17 Inst. has been restored to the Proprietor, we most respectfully transmit the same for your consideration & Directions.

Bill of unavoidable Expenses paid by Richard Chiverton for conveying a seized cable to the Warehouse Customs East Cowes:

Hire of a Wherry and Men £0 – 10 - 6   
Hire of Men at Cowes for securing the same at His Majesty’s Warehouse,Cowes £1 – 4 – 0


 £1 – 14 – 6


2 November 1809           Agreeable to your Order of the 4 September last we have this Day admitted Mr David Williams to the situation of Mate in Command of the Wolf Tender in Service at this Port.


4 November 1809           Having received the inclosed Letter from the Commander of the Lion Cutter in the Service of the Revenue craving the Sum of £13 – 2 – 6 for Pilotage, we respectfully transmit the same for your Honors consideration & directions.


30 November 1809         In Answer to your Honors directions signified by Mr Secretary Richmonds Letter of Yesterdays Date, we respectfully beg leave to report that we are informed by Mr Gely the Ship Builder that he cannot possibly furnish the Stork Cutter with a Spar for a new Boom for less than the Estimate transmitted to you in our Letter of 14 Inst.


1807 - 1808


Cowes Letters Books 

© Transcription by Steve Holden, 2008. Original Book held at the National Archives.

2 August 2009