Collector to Board Letters Book 1811 - 1812


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/23, 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.


5 December 1811          In imparting that part of your Honors Order of 29 August last which relates to the new Districts for Riding Officers on the Isle of Wight under the new Land Guard System, Mr William Robey the Officer of the First Class in that Department whose District is stated to be Ryde, Cowes and Sandown is apparently unwilling to understand that the Spirit of the Boards Order meant that he should have cognisance of any intermediate or extended place comprised within the Marked Circuit of his Ride other than specified in a valid order. But we feel persuaded that it was your Honors intention that any accessible and suspicious part within the line of coast so laid down should be duly surveyed – we feel it our duty to write a letter, copy of which is inclosed, requiring him to visit St Hellens, Bembridge and Yaverland, places that in former years have been much frequented by smugglers and form the East peninsular of the Isle of Wight, which we humbly hope your Honors will approve.


11 December 1811        In Obedience to your Order on the Qualifications of the Persons forming the Crews of the Preventive Boats sanctioned prior to new Water Guard system. We subjoin for your Honors information, a list of the Persons with their respective ages, that compose the crew of the South Yarmouth Preventive Boat, No. 18, which was originally appointed by the Honorable Board 19 December 1799 but to which fresh Commissions were informed under the New System. The Sitter and his Crew are Young, Active and Efficient and we are humbly of the Opinion the Commissioned Men after the servitude recognised by Law would be entitled to the Regulated Rate of Superannuation:

William Arnold


29 years

John Williams

Commissioned Boatman

39 years

Alex Phillips

Commissioned Boatman

23 years

Richard Webb

Commissioned Boatman

23 years

Robert Dore

Commissioned Boatman

22 years

William Wheeler

Commissioned Boatman

26 years

Rubin Cooper

Commissioned Boatman

22 years


13 December 1811        In Elucidation of the case in which Messrs. Rowhams have again thought proper to Memorial the Lords of the Treasury, we beg leave to annex a copy of our Petition to your Honors the 16th September last, with the Answers of Mr Harrison on the part of the Lords of the Treasury, and that of your Honors Secretary thereon.

Independently of the Personal Interest we naturally feel in the prevention of our Lawful Seizure of the Tobacco in question, it is our duty to observe that the granting of an extension of time as solicited by Messrs Rowhams would in no way afford them avail or relief, the tobacco being of an inferior Original Quality and become so depreciated in value from having lain near three years in the Kings Warehouse as at present to be scarcely worth any excess beyond the duty. The allowing also the indulgence as had for, would not only we presume be unprecedented, but would be placing tobacco forfeited by the Laws of the Country in a much preferable situation to that regularly imported which by the 33rd of the King Ch 57 is allowed to remain at furthest on three years unentered, any extension to the time that the Tobacco in question has occupied already in the Warehouse would deteriorate more in its quality, and be ultimately so prejudicial to the Crown and Seizing Officer as when reported to Public Sale it would not be worth a buyers attention, on which grounds we pray your Honors to negative Messrs Rowhams petition and support our Seizure.

Among many other reasons that induce us to protest against the Indulgence sought for is that Messrs Rowhams are only Agents in this concern, the Tobacco being the Bona Fide property of Messrs Von Kapff and Brune, American Merchants of Baltimore, who chose at the crisis of the first Embargo, hastily imposed by that Government towards this Country to adventure this small assortment of 400 Hogsheads in an illegal trading Vessel, conscious that if it remained in America it would be worth nothing. [A further letter making a request to proceed in the Court of the Exchequer was sent on the 2nd January 1812.]


14 December 1811        As directed by your Order on the appointment of William Manner to Act for Six Months as Sitter of the Preventive Boat, No. 19, at Atherfield Rocks. We report that we have no doubt of the intention and zeal of said Manner, but we are humbly of the Opinion that his inability to read Public Orders which are at times Confidentially Communicated and a seeming want of Energy in his manner tend to detract from his fit Qualification as the leader of a Boat Crew.


24 December 1811        In reply to your Honors enquiry on the subject of Almanacks, we acquaint your Honors we occupy district Offices and we are of the Opinion the following Departments should be furnished with Almanacks:

Landing Surveyor / Landing waiters (One Office)

Searchers Office

Warehouse Keepers Office

Clerks in the Long Room

Tide Surveyors Office

Which is respectfully submitted.


8 January 1812              We transmit inclosed a Statement as permitted by your Honors Order of 11 April 1801 of the Salary and Day Pay received by John Gilbert, a Tide Waiter at this Port between January 5th 1811 and January 5th 1812 humbly craving an allowance of £26 – 4 – 0 being the difference to make his income £36.


8 January 1812              There were seized from Mrs Wiffen the 11 October last, by the Officers of this Port, sundry cards of Lace, 1 piece and 4 remnants Muslin, 2 remnant pieces of French Cambric and 1 piece of Black Silk. The Lace and Muslin by your Honors Order of 3 Ult. have been restored; the remainder remains to be prosecuted.


8 January 1812               By your Order signifying your consent to the new lease to the Watch house at West Cowes for 21 years @ 36 Guineas per annum, your Honors directed us, that on payment of such rent to the Lessor to demand of the Tidesurveyor a proportion of Ten Guineas should he be pleased to continue his residence therein, and last Saturday having paid the Lessor Half a Years Rent due and accordingly required the Tidesurveyor’s contribution of £5 – 5 – 0. In return to which he has delivered to us the Inclosed Memorial requesting that it may be forwarded to your Honors.

In support of his appeal for your consideration, we beg leave most respectfully to state to your Honors that the four rooms he occupies are of narrow dimensions, very low without an inch of outlet and most undesirable as a residence (although particularly eligible as a Watch house) and such as no man would select for habitation unless he experiences a Boon in the remission of rent or saw a personal Interest therein.

The Office of Tidesurveyor being alone executed for the Public Benefit and which never can be so well done as by his Residence on the Spot, there being in Cowes Roads at times 200 sail of Ships not more that half a mile from the harbour and shore, and foreign ships constantly arriving liable to Quarantine and Alien Restrictions, which require the prompt personal visitation from the Tidesurveyor. We should feel culpable in concealing from your Honors our opinion that the removal of the Tidesurveyor from the Watch house would put the Revenue at risk. He has a small salary of £120 per annum. These apartments were occupied by his predecessors Rent Free under the Honorable Board’s sanction. That the Tidesurveyor’s residence at the Watch House at Cowes is absolutely expedient in the Public Service induce us to hope your Honors will entertain his memorial and rescind your order requiring him to pay rent.  [The Tidesurveyor concerned appears to be Robert Francis]


14 January 1812            As directed by your Order of 20th December, we transmit the Affidavit of Mr William Arnold, Sitter of the Preventive Boat No. 18 stationed at South Yarmouth, Reuben Cooper, and Richard Webb, boatman belonging to said Boat, detailing the circumstances of a Seizure of Salt made by them the 18th September last and since Condemned in His Majesty’s Court of Exchequer & having read to them the Honorable Boards General Order of 8th July 1801 regarding the means of Prosecution, thereby affording them a choice, they have signified that the Crown may prosecute for them for the Penalty in Question on their behalf.


15 January 1812            John Gilbert is 72 years of age and so afflicted with sore legs and general debility of constitution as to be incapable of further service to the Revenue. He has been 2/3rds of the current year confined to his house and must have appealed to the Overseer of the Poor for Parochial Relief had not the Collector advanced him occasional money for his maintenance. On 14 November last we recommended him to your Honors as a fit Object for Superannuation.  


15 January 1812            In return to your Order of yesterday communicating the Nomination of Mr John Waller to be Searcher, Assistant Landing Waiter, and Comptrolling Surveyor of Warehouses at this Port in the room of Mr Holloway, Superannuated. We report that the said Mr Waller as will appear by the Certificate of Baptism inclosed is 42 years of Age, that he is sufficiently active and capable of performing the Duties of the Offices above mentioned.

That he is at present Inspector of Taxes for the District of the Isle of Wight, is a respectable man, and has never been concerned or suspected of Smuggling or to have obstructed any Revenue Officer in the Execution of his Duty.


16 January 1812            We inclose a statement of the Emoluments of the Comptroller of this Port in the year ended 5th January, and we humbly pray your Honors Instructions for paying him an additional sum as to make his income equal to £120 per annum:

An Account of the total Emoluments drawn from Salary, Fees and Gratuities received by me as Comptroller of Customs at this Port and also my Emoluments from my Public Situation in any other department detailing my cash from 5 January 1811 to 5 January 1812:

         Salary                                                                        Nil

         Coal Poundage                                                          £16 – 14 – 11

         Poundage on Seizures                                                £1 – 10 – 10½

         Commission on ditto                                                  £1 – 9 – 9

         Remuneration on Patent Fees                                     £17 – 1 – 6

         Casual Fees arising from the Office of Compr.            £45 – 0 – 7

                                                                           Total        £81 – 17 – 7½

Isham Chapman Comptroller at Cowes maketh oath that the above is a just and true Statement of the Emoluments of his Office arising from Salary, Fees and Gratuities in the year ending 5 January 1812, that he has no other Salary, Fees or Gratuity from any other Public Situation or in any other department.

Sworn before John Ward, Collector 16 January 1812.


20 January 1812            In pursuance of your Order of the 16th December, we have called on Mr Dennett to erect the building at Atherfield as a Watch House for the Sitter and Crew of the Preventive Boat stationed there, which by his estimate he agreed to do for the sum of Two hundred & Fifty Eight Pounds, and in consequence the enclosed letter has been sent to the Collector on the subject in which Mr Dennett craves a further sum of £12 on account of the increase in the Price of Building Materials, without which he cannot, as stated, do justice in completing the work.

As in all probability this is from a lapse of time since the building was Estimated, viz. 27th September 1811, we respectfully submit W Dennett’s application for your Honors consideration and direction.


31 January 1812            We forward inclosed a Certificate of the Tide Surveyor to obtain your Honors License for the smack Pilot of this Port the property of Michael Corke – valued at £600.


5 March 1812                On the petition of Edward Harris, we report from the several Enquiries we considered it our duty to make today, respecting his property. That we are satisfied he is unable to raise the sum of £200 without a sale of his effects. The Man, as he states, has a Wife and four Infant children all of whom must be reduced to Indigence if an Execution from the Sheriff is put into his house.                                

As Harris is now  publicly known to be the Informer against Corke the Pilot, and Captain Harrington, the chief actors in the transaction, and as he has experienced the usual Scoffs & Emnity from his townsmen and others generally known when Smugglers are Informed against, we humbly submit under such circumstances it would be quite politic to pursue the Recovery of the £200 by Execution against Harris as it would shut the door against us in this place for any future Information against Smugglers and there being an eventual probability of the whole debt to the Crown being received from the Principal Offender. Harrington on his return from India, we humbly recommend Harris’s appeal for Mercy to your Honors consideration.


11 March 1812               The Anchor and Cable in question have been seized by me as Vice Admiral of the Isle of Wight under the 4th Sec of the 49 of the King Ch 122 – for having been crept up within my jurisdiction by Mr James Clear, a Pilot of Cowes, who kept the same on board his Vessel in Cowes Harbour 7 days without reporting the fact to me as required by Law and there to Portsmouth.

The 49th is a most salutary Act and was specially passed to Safeguard the property of Merchants and Ship Owners, and to protect them from clandestine Proceedings and Extortionate Practices of Pilots and Seafaring People taking up Anchors, Cables and Goods parted with at sea and in support of such principles of the Law, I acted in the present instance by Seizing the Anchor and Cable and claiming as my Reward One Third of their value; as the chief enactments of the Act have been promulgated by me more that 18 months ago by Bills and Notices placed on the Isle of Wight / as your Honors will observe by the one annexed /  and it being impossible that Mr Clear can plead ignorance of the same, he is bound in Law. I humbly presume to make good to the owners the portion of the Reward I claim as Seizing Officer.


12 March 1812               As directed by your Order of yesterday, on the subject of Glutmen. We report that when we select a person to be employed in such capacity, it is always a resident of the port and one whose character can be vouched for by his neighbours as being Trust Worthy, Sober and Honest.

The same Rule which prevails with your Honors in the dismissal of a Commissioned Officer viz. Never to be employed again is observed by us with regard to Glutmen, and we Minute accordingly in the security book the Offence he is guilty of, the time when dismissed, and the remark that he is never to be employed again.

As we ourselves would not take a stranger into employ as a Glutman, we have always supposed that such is the governing practice with Collectors and Comptrollers at the other Ports, and on account of the pittance of Pay they receive Viz. 2/- per Diem when actually employed, we have never thought it expedient, or that your Honors required that we should write to other Ports on the Subject.


24 March 1812               Conformable to your Order of the 24 Dec. to report at the end of three Months on the Qualification of Mr William Manners to act as Sitter of the Preventive Boat at Atherfield Rocks to be confirmed as Sitter. We cannot do otherwise than respectfully re-iterate our former opinion contained in our letter of 14 Dec. “That we consider Manners inability to write and read your Honors Orders – many of which are confidential and require secrecy – and seeming lack of energy in his manner – are defects that render him unfit as leader for a Boat Crew.”

As we cannot recommend either of the Boatmen now under the command of Manners as a proper person to have direction of the Boat, and to be placed over the head of Manners, we beg leave to submit that Mr James Major, the present Deputed Mariner of the Stork appears to us (if his services can be spared from the Cutter) as the most Qualified man we know to be appointed Sitter of the Atherfield Boat. His Qualifications are that he can read and write, he is only 29 years of Age, properly active, also firmness of character and has several times been in command of a Boats Crew.


24 April 1812                 The Coal Bushels now in use at this Port, 12 in No. received by us in September 1810 being nearly worn out, we hereby pray your Honors to order the same number to be sent for the Service. [This was a regular request.]


27 April 1812                 Mr David Williams, Mate in Command of the Wolf Cutter, having in obedience to your Order of 19 March last immediately on arrival at this Port the 19th Inst. proceeded to the Royal William at Spithead and received from the commander of that Ship John Chamberlain and John Pill – Two Smuglers impressed into the Service the 12th July 1811. They were further as directed by your Honors said Order brought before John Delgarno Esq., the Rev. Doctor Worsley, James Worsley Clark, three Magistrates of the Isle of Wight at their Session held Saturday the 25th Inst at Newport who were prayed by the Collector on behalf of your Honors, as the said Offenders were not fit or able to serve His Majesty – that they might be held to bail to answer any Information that may be brought against them or in default thereof  that they might be committed to any Gaol, Prison or House of Correction – Your Collector promising to the Magistrates that as the release of the Offenders from the Navy was subject to the concurrence of the Board of Customs.

The Magistrates in reply thereto observed that it appeared to them that the Offenders could not have been received into the Service of the Navy under the Established Rules (which require in every instance an Examination of the person Impressed as well as Volunteers) had they not been deemed fit and able at the time. With this conviction of Fact on their Minds, and also the belief that it might be possible that bodily infirmity and inability complained of against these Men might have happened subsequent to their acceptance on board the Royal William and that they may consequently be legally discharged from the Navy, the Magistrates declined proceeding against the Men or committing them as desired and having no direction from your Honors to detain the Offenders after the Magistrates decision, they were set at liberty on coming out of the Town Hall.


28 April 1812                 A prosecution under Treasury Regulations, having been carried out by the Collector against Josh Randell of West Cowes, conformable to your Honors order of 24 January 1811, a Penalty of £60 having in consequence been recovered for the Crown. Your Collector humbly prays that as he has incurred expenses in the arrest and proceedings against Randell that your Honors will be pleased to direct Mr Cooper, your Solicitor to pay him the proportion of the Penalty he is entitled to under the Treasury Regulation.


20 May 1812                 The Watch House and Premises occupied by the Tide Surveyor – Leased to your Honors for the use of the Service the 24th June 1811 for 21 years under a condition to put keep and quit the premises in good tenantable repair – being in a very defective state – we have caused a survey of the same to be taken up by Mr Antgraves, a respectable builder at West Cowes – who after making the necessary calculations has delivered to us the enclosed Estimate for perfecting the defects amounting to £138 – 3 – 3¼ and ourselves having had proof by Personal Inspection of the Premises of their very bad condition. We submit the expediency of the Repairs being done to prevent the Materials of the Building getting worse and to prevent the possibility of the Lessee insisting on a more general Repair which by terms of the Lease she may do at any time when the Building is found not to be in a proper state and condition.

We subjoin an Extract from our Letter to your Honors 9th April 1811 when the Tender of the Premises was made for the present Lease, which will confirm the necessity of the proposed repairs.


4 June 1812                  The Acting Mate of the Storke Mr Richard Willkinson Junior having been guilty of an outrage on board the Cutter – seldom equalled in opposition – violence and menace to his Commander and subversive in its principles to order and discipline required in your Honors Waterguard. We entreat your Honors early attention to the written representation of Captain Ferris and request your pleasure as to the course to be pursued against the Acting Mate for his Gross Offences.


8 July 1812                   As directed by your Order of the 27th Ult., we have ascertained that Chamberlain and Pill, two Smugglers captured by the Wolf Tender, Mr David Williams, Mate in Command, & delivered over by him to the Navy, were received on board the Royal William, Man of War at Spithead as Unserviceable Men & that they were subsequently entered as such, on the Ships Books. And further, that John Simpson a Smugler delivered to the same Ship by Captain Sayers of the Ranger Cutter / & who is still on board, though Captain Sayers has several weeks had your Honors Order to apply for his discharge / was also received on board the Royal William as an Unserviceable Man & entered as such on the Ships Books.

It appears from the information we have obtained that it is the practice on board the Royal William under a General Admiralty Order, to receive all Seafaring Smugglers sent to the Ship – without regard to Age, Inability, or Unfitness in the first instance & that the scrutiny into their Health or Corporeal soundness by the Surgeon does not take place on the Mens first appearance (as is the case when Volunteer or Impressed Men are delivered to the Ship) but some time several days after, on which an Official Report of the Qualities and Capabilities of the Smuggler is sent to the Admiralty, who thereupon, according to their worth, either issue an Order for their detention or discharge, which explanation we presume to hope will satisfactorily account to your Honors – for Chamberlain, Pill & Simpson being received into the Navy when they ought as unfit men to have been rejected.


13 July 1812                  In obedience to your Commands signified in your Letter of the 18th of June last, we proceeded on the first return of the Stork Cutter to Port on the 6th Inst. to charge Mr Richard Wilkinson jun., the Acting Mate of the said Cutter with the following alleged Offences stated by Captain Ferris to have been committed by him on the 2nd June last:

Drunkenness, Mutinous Expressions, Contemptuous Behaviour, Disobedience of Orders ……

And having in Conformity to your Honors Established Rules heard all the Witnesses cited by the parties to appear in the presence of the Accuser and accused. It results to our understanding that the First Charge:


Is proved by the Testimony of Captain Johnson and Mr James Lowe of the Rose Cutter, James Major, Thomas Savage, Deputed Officers, Charles Smith, Ned Pugh, James Surnan, Mariners of the Stork Cutter, all of whom swear that he was intoxicated and Tipsey – and the three latter further depose that he began Quarrelling with Major, stuck him in the Eye and challenged him to a fight.

That the Second Charge, Mutinous Expressions

Is proved by Thomas Savage, Deputed Officer, Joseph Tooks, Charles Smith, Joseph Eastwick, Thomas Pugh and John Turner, Mariners of the Stork Cutter deposing that they had heard severally Wilkinson Challenge Captain Ferris to a fight, call him a coward, and threaten to shoot him.

That the Third Charge, Contemptuous Behaviour

Is proved by Captain Johnson and Mr James Lowe, Mate of the Rose, John Collis, Deputed Mariner of the same, James Major, Deputed Mariner and John Turner, Mariner of the Stork by them deposing that the Expression “Damn the Dog” was made use of by Wilkinson & directed to Captain Ferris.

That the Fourth Charge Disobedience of Orders

Is proved by Captain Johnson of the Rose, John Collis, Deputed Officer of the same, Henry Roderick, James Anderson, & George Talbot, Mariners of the same, James Major and Thomas Savage, Deputed Officers of the Stork, Charles Smith, Thomas Pugh, and John Turner, Mariners of the Stork, all of whom separately depose that Wilkinson refused to go below when ordered to and insisted on being put on the shore by Captain Ferris.

On Mr Wilkinson’s written answers to the Charges, we have humbly to observe that whether he went on duty to Swanage, or by Leave of his Commander, no part of it conflicts the general Evidence of his Misconduct, after he had returned to the Stork – and we cannot under your Honors Injunction abstain from remarking that in the course of our Investigation the accused betrayed in Language and Manner much rancorous animosity to his Commander who appears to us in the transaction to have acted with a degree on Mildness rarely exemplified in a case so Irritating, which would have justified the severe measures and temporary punishment.

Mr Wilkinson’s accusations against Major, the Deputed Officer, for beating him and giving him black eyes also appear to us to be very ill founded, as the testimony of Wilkinson, contradiction is positively proved, - That he began sparring with Major, then struck him, and challenged him to a fight.

On the Recriminatory part of the Defence against his Commander, we conceive no portion of it can be construed in explanation of his Misbehaviour, neither does the matter it contains reduce the character of an Officer like himself while under accusation, who being pledged by a solemn Oath to see the Duty to which he is appointed faithfully executed becomes by his silence a participant in any neglect of irregularity his Commander may be guilty of.

Reviewing therefore impartially the whole of the evidence to which we have give the most patient hearing, we are humbly of the opinion that the Four Charges against Wilkinson are substantially proved, and that nothing by the accused is seemingly offered in explanation of this Offence.

P S It does not appear to us that Wilkinson has been before charged.


16 July 1812                  The case now referred to by your Honors, on the representation of Captain Byng involves much serious matters, as in the event of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury acceding to the request it makes the salutary Regulations of one of the best Acts (49 Geo 3rd Ch 122) passed for the protection of Merchants and Ship Owners property will be much weakened and partially defeated. The Anchor in question was secretly bought at St Hellens in the Isle of Wight, and information having been given in of the proceeding of the 18th May last, in virtue of my deputation as Deputy Vice Admiral of the Island, and conformable to the 4th Enactment of 49 Geo 3rd Ch 122, I seized the same and lodged it in my Warehouse.

That Captain Byng was entirely ignorant of the Law that applied to the transaction I willingly admit, but that Tribbeck the Buyer whose constant residence is Saint Hellens, and over which, and adjacent places, I have repeatedly caused to be placed Printed Bills / same as annexed / can in truth set up a similar plea – I must protest against believing that he, as well as his neighbours, knew, that the Law forbids him to bring Anchors of that description. With this conviction in my mind, I object to the propriety of Captain Byng’s appeal for the restitution of the Anchor (a Foreign one due to Customs Duty, should an owner appear and make good his claim, but exempt as an Admiralty Droit after remaining in my Custody 12 Months and a Day). Tribbeck in my opinion more deserves an Indictment for felony for having knowingly violated an Act of Parliament, rather than relief from the Lords of the Treasury.

On the practice of the Navy Gentlemen selling Anchors, Cables &c. they find abandoned on the High Seas, and appropriating the proceeds of their sales to the Establishment of their ships or other purposes of utility, I have humbly to remark that there was a time when there was no legal Regulation for the delivery of such Articles to Particular Persons appointed to receive the same in trust for the proper owners or for the Receiver General of Admiralty Droits (in default of claim) little objection may be offered thereto, but now that a positive and recent Law expressly directing the appropriation of Anchors, Cables and goods found derelict and abandoned on the High Seas exists, it is right that the practice should cease and that Officers of the Navy should conform to the provisions of 49 Geo. 3rd Ch 122 in the same manner as Pilots and other Seafaring People.

This being an Admiralty case, should your Honors require further information on the legality of my proceedings I would respectfully submit a reference to Charles Bricknell Esq. the Admiralty Solicitor, who has been directed by the Lords of the Admiralty to furnish the Deputy Vice Admirals on the coast with such advice for their conduct in carrying out 49 Geo. 3rd Ch 122.


31 July 1812                  The whole of the circumstances attending Seizure of Spirits No 2 are detailed in the proper column of the printed form – Cellar is an Isle of Wight term for a cavity in the Earth on Cliffs as well as in a house – and the Cellar in which the Spirits were discovered and Seized were in a cliff near Luccomb at a distance from any habitation, no person being found near the Spirits when Seized.


1 August 1812               The conduct of Mr William Manner, Acting Sitter of the Atherfield Preventive Boat  whom by our previous letters we are already represented to be unqualified for such a situation has of late been extremely relaxed, inattentive and culpable particularly in not launching the boat on the 19 Ultimo when fishing boats were communicating and approaching with the Indiamen at the Back of the Wight and concealing from us the disorderly and drunken state of John Roach, James Farender and Henry Cowper on 13 July when they refused to obey him.

That we should be guilty of a breach of Duty and undeserving your Honors confidences if we did not acquaint you that Manners is the least capable of any man designated a seafaring person that we have ever had to be the Sitter of a Preventive Boat. It now appears that he never was a Deputed Mariner on board any Cutter but simply the Cutter Steward and that from his ignorance of nautical matters renders the lives of his crew at hazard whenever he steers the boat.

For which reasons and from his not be able to keep his men in subjection to his command and our anxious desire to uphold the new Waterguard System on a basis for efficiency we humbly submit to your Honors the expediency of appointing some qualified person to the situation of Sitter for the Atherfield Preventive Boat in Lieu of Manners the Acting Sitter and that some punishment should await the conduct of Roach, Farender and Cowper who got drunk in Yarmouth and refused to obey Manner when called on by him to take their Stations in the Boat and Conduct her to Atherfield.


1 August 1812              Pursuant to your Orders of the 29th Inst. we transmit the enclosed Certificates of Baptism and Qualification of John Cushen, Nominated to be a Tide Waiter at this Port by which it will appear he is 27 Years of Age and that he is capable of the Duty required of him. Cushen has been some years in your Honors Service as a Glutman, is a sober man, and has never been known to be concerned in Smuggling or to have obstructed a Revenue Officer.


14 August 1812             In obedience to your Orders we have given the Inclosed Charge to Mr William Manner and having proceeded in the investigation in accordance with your Honors printed Rules and received his answer in reply. It becomes our duty respectfully to remark that it appears by the evidence of William Rubie, William Vaughan and John Escom  – On  the first charge there was considerable surf at Atherfield at the time which floored fishing boats got off the shore in safety – It admits some doubt whether the Preventive Boat could be launched with equal security. We cannot however but think that Manner was remiss in not making a trial so to do.

On the second charge for not keeping a nightly guard, the same witnesses prove that the nightly guard has not been regular but that the occasionally look out at night when anything suspicious is expected and that the cause why the constant night guard was not kept was for want of a Watch House. We beg to observe that the Watch House has undoubtedly been much wanted but as the building is almost ready for occupation no such plea can prevail again.

On the third charge not reporting to us the conduct of Roach, Farender and Cowper for disobeying his orders after getting drunk and Yarmouth and walking to Atherfield instead of joining the boat, the Acting Sitter admits that he overlooked their conduct by reason of the contrition they expressed for the offence their having families and promising never to do it again.

The charge given to John Roach, James Farender and Henry Cowper being admitted in their answers and when proved beyond contradiction by the testimony of William Rubie and William Vaughan in the investigation of the complaint against Manner.

We humbly submit to your Honors as an example to Boat Crews in the Preventive Service one of the said three men should be dismissed. That Manners who has been 28 years in the Revenue should be severely reprimanded for his conduct and that William Vaughan on of the Boatmen who seems to be a decent active Man and who can read and write be appointed Sitter of the Atherfield Boat and Manner continued therein (should your Honors pass over his neglect) as a Commissioned Boatman.


19 August 1812             Notice having been given us by Messr. Dunnett  and Trinian that they had erected the Watch House at Atherfield agreeable to contract and that an early payment of the money would be acceptable to them. We considered it incumbent on us previous to certifying the Bills to repair to the spot and examining the building which we have great satisfaction in saying is well done and is a convenient accommodation for the Boats Crew.

While at Atherfield the only Boatman we saw was William Vaughan who informed us that William Manner, the Acting Sitter, was gone to Newport 10 miles distant on private business but that Manner and all hands were assessable at 6 o’clock at the Boat House for the purpose of launching the Boat and proceeding round St Catherine’s Point on duty. Corresponding with this information we saw Manner on the road between 6 and 7 o’clock but to our astonishment on our own return about 3 miles from Newport and about 8 o’clock in the evening we met Roach and on stopping the chaise and accosting him and demanding to know where he had been he appeared confused and in Liquor, and said he had been to Newport for Medicines showing at the same time a phial he held in his hands. We told him we had been informed all hands were to meet at Atherfield at 6 o’clock on duty – that we considered going to the Doctor as an excuse – and that this conduct of his was another breach of attention and that he had better take care of himself.

Yesterday we received from him the Inclosed impertinent letter from him which we submit for your Honors perusal, humbly requesting that you will be pleased to order to be laid before you, our letter of 14 inst. with the charges given to Manner, Roach, Farender and Cowper. Manner does not appear to have carried out any command at all over the Boats Crew in the time he has been Acting Sitter and in his quiet and humble exertions to benefit the Service he has always, we are informed be thwarted by the Rebellious and disorderly behaviour of Roach, Farender and Cowper, all of whom we believe (without the slightest reference to what has passed since the charges) to be very unworthy Servants of the Revenue.

We take occasion to observe to your Honors that it is usually impossible for the Preventive Boat to be made an efficient boat unless commanded by a Firm, determined capable Officer like the late Sitter Mr James Williams, who was promoted mate of the Scorpion and although in our letter of 14 inst. we recommended William Vaughan, a decent, orderly Man and best deserving promotion from Boat Crew to be Sitter, we will not withhold our opinion that James Major, Deputed Officer of the Storke would be a more affable man for the position of Sitter which is respectfully submitted. [James Major was appointed Sitter, Atherfield 21 November 1812.]


19 August 1812             In obedience to your Commands of the 7th Inst. on the queries contained in Mr Harrisons Letter of the 28th July last on the subject of the India and China trade.

We respectfully submit our belief, that the Smugling of Teas and East India Goods, has considerably increased in the last five years and the places in which the Smugling has successfully been practiced are between the Start Point – On the first appearance of the Homeward Fleets on the coast of England, and their ultimate destination the docks in the London River – Accomplished by the communication of small vessels and boats from the shore, on the pretence of Piloting and landing Passengers.

To defeat such Illicit Practices, we know of no measure so probable, as an amendment of the Manifest Act (viz. 26th Geo. 3rd Ch40) that should enact that all Chests, Cases, Bales or Packages shipped in India or China, should be Marked by the Revenue Export Officer with a particular Mark and progressive Number and that a Manifest of the Contents of the Cargo of every Ship, describing such Marks and Numbers, should be drawn out by the Collector or Chief Revenue Officer in India or China, and be then transmitted under Seal of Office to your Honors.

That no Package, be its contents of whatever Nature, Muslins, Shawls, Silks, Teas or other Commodities shall be allowed to be received on board any Ships in India or China bound for Europe, but of a defined Size or Weight, similar to Tobacco Packages under the Regulations of the 29th of the King Ch 68, and that all Private Trade Articles and presents of small Packages shall be packed in large cases of bales of defined Dimensions and sizes and properly secured.

That the whole of a Ships Cargo or Loading of East India or China Produce shall be stowed in the hold and between Docks and if any Package or Bale contrary to such suggested Rule should (after its being passed into a Law) be found or discovered in the Captains Cabin, or any part of the Ships Deck by any Officer of the Revenue who may board such Ship on her homeward Arrival in the Channel, all and every such Package may be seized as forfeited.

On the mediated extension of the Import Trade from India and China to certain Out Ports, We are humbly of the opinion such privileges should only be granted to Liverpool, Bristol, and other Ports of important Rank, and then only on condition that the Merchants do Established Wet Docks surrounded by high walls similar to the construction of the Wet Docks in London, our own experience confirming to us, that Ships Cargoes when discharging on open Quays are always liable to plunder – and that the confidence we place in Tide Waiters is too often abused.


1 September 1812         The new Watchhouse at Atherfield being now complete and fit for occupation, Mr William Manners, the Acting Sitter, of the Preventive Boat No. 19 humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to direct that an Allowance for Fire and Candle be made to him from this date to enable him to carry on the Watch Duty, similar to the Allowances granted to other Sitters at Watchhouses, of the rate of which he is ignorant.


1 September 1812         A Mariner of the name of John Evans, having suddenly expired on the 21 July last, while executing his Duty in the Boat of the Wolf Tender, and Mr David Williams, Mate in Command having caused his Body to be interned at Dartmouth Church Yard. Inclosed is Mr Williams representation of the Accident, of the Charges and Expenses attending Evans Burial, amounting to £4 – 2 – 9 which he humbly prays as it occurred in your Honors Service, you will be pleased to order payment of.


2 September 1812         The Watchhouse, Boathouse, Platform and Dwelling House, occupied by the Tidesurveyor, at West Cowes, having been repaired by Mr Anthony Groves in pursuance of your Honors Order of 19 June 1812 on an Estimate tendered by him amounting to £138 – 3 – 3¾, it now appearing to us that the repairs and work stated as wanting, are properly executed and that his Bill for the same – which we have certified with the Tidesurveyor is short of the Estimate £2 – 17 – 8¾. We hereby submit your Honors will be pleased to direct Payment of £135 – 5 – 7 being the balance due to him.


8 September 1812         In the month of July last Captain Byng sent to the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury a similar Memorial for the restitution of an Anchor picked up in the Seas, and sold to a Person in the Isle of Wight – of the name Tribbeck – which, we apprehend from his now addressing you on the same subject, has been rejected. As the Report thereon made by the Collector as Deputy Vice Admiral (It being an Admiralty case) will explain the transaction and apply to the present appeal of Captain Byng.


12 September 1812       In obedience to your Order of the 8th Inst. – We report that your Honors further Resolution regarding the Resignation of the Sitter and Boatmen employed in the Preventive Boats has been communicated to the Inspector of the District and to the Sitters and Crews of the Yarmouth and Atherfield by giving them Copies of the Order which has been affixed up in the Custom House and Watch House.


6 October 1812             As directed by your Order of the 24th Ult., Captain Sagers, Inspecting Commander of the Northern District received from the Royal William man of War John Simpson alias James Simpson, a Smugler captured the 3rd December 1811 in the Schooner Betsey of Folkestone and who with 9 others was delivered over to the Navy on the 8th of the same month.

On arrival at this Port the following day conformable to your Honors Directions, we caused Simpson to be conveyed before William Stringer Bourne Esq., a Magistrate for the County of Hants in order that Captain Sagers and his people might have the opportunity of proving on oath that Simpson was found on board the same Vessel of Boat laden with Spirits contrary to the 45th Geo 3rd Ch 121 – and that he was not fit or able to serve His Majesty, and that therefore he might be held to Bail for his Appearance to Answer any Information that may be brought against him or in default that he may be committed to any Goal, Prison, or House of Correction.

The magistrate having adverted to the 7th Sect of 45th George 3rd Ch 121 & the 3rd Sect of the 49th of the same Ch 62 and also to the Certificate of Captain Carey of His Majesty’s Ship Stanley, copy of which is annexed, wherein instead of any refusal being made to Simpson, he is admitted as fit and able for Naval Service. Mr Bourne deemed that any further Proceedings for other Punishment to be inflicted on Simpson would be illegal and he was accordingly set at liberty.

It is also incumbent on us to remind your Honors that you have tacitly confirmed the fitness and ability of Simpson for Naval Service by paying the Captain of this Man a Reward of £20.



1812 -1813

Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

4 August 2009