Collector to Board Letters Book 1811


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/22, 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.


7 January 1811              Pursuant to your Order of the 4th inst. in a report from Captain Pearce respecting the seizure of the sloop William and Elizabeth, we have called on Mr David Williams, Mate in Command of the Wolf Tender, for a statement of the transaction – as far as he has any knowledge thereof, which we transmit enclosed for your Honors information, which we have to add that the William and Elizabeth was condemned last tem and offered for sale the 23rd of this month.


8 January 1811              In return to your Order of enquiry of yesterday, we report that the Men employed by us to act as Additional Guardians to the Revenue when the Commissioned men are all taken up and stationed are denominated Extra Tide Waiters and Boatmen & all of this description are under Oath & Security – each becoming found with two Sureties in the Penalty of £100.


14 January 1811            As directed by your Order of the 8th inst. on the prosecution of Joseph Randall in the Exchequer for the Penalty of £200 for having in his custody Prohibited Silk Handkerchiefs contrary to the Act of 11 and 12 Wm 3rd Ch 10 Sec 2 and calling on us to report in what manner the Officers are desirous the prosecution should be carried on.

The Collector, to whom the information was given, respectfully requests that he may be permitted to proceed against Randall under the Treasury Regulations – communicated in the your Honors General Letter of 8th July 1801 – he making himself responsible for the charges of arrest and taking up the offender.


14 January 1811            Inclosed is a petition from John Roach, a Boatman in the Preventive Boat at Atherfield praying that out of shortness of breath and consequent inability to perform the Duties of his Station, your Honors will be pleased to remove him to Bristol or any other Port, there to be employed as a Boarding Officer, which duty he states himself to be equal to, as no bodily exertions are required similar to those of the boat.

The Sitters report annexed justifies that he is unequal to the duties of the Boat, and as the service requires strong, athletic people, we recommend that Roach may be displaced as prayed for.


20 January 1811            Your Honors having by your General Order of 9 June 1810 been pleased to signify your intention of defraying the travelling charges incurred by the Sitters and Boatmen of the new preventive boats in the arrival of themselves and their families to their appointed station. In conformity thereto we transmit a crave from Mr James Williams and his boats crew with the Bills of the Charges incurred amounting to £22 – 10 – 10 which they humbly pray your Honors will be pleased to direct payment of and is respectfully submitted.


25 January 1811            We are requested by Mr John Ferris, Mate of the Lapwing Cutter, on the Plymouth Station, who is arrived at Cowes, under your Honors to settle some private family affairs, to transmit the inclosed Statement of hill ill heath and confinement to his room, and praying a further extension of your Honors indulgence for a limited time, that they may think proper, to re-establish his health.


8 February 1811            We have to represent to your Honors that Sir John Barrington, Bart, and John How Esq. Lords of the Manor holding by Patent from the Crown the Prescriptive Privileges of appropriation to their personal benefits such unclaimed wrecked goods as may by accidents of the Seas be cast on the shores of their respective privileged Estates on the Isle of Wight have given us notice that they shall in future take possession of all the goods foreign as well as British where no owner may be present, as their own, in virtue of their Crown Patent so granted to them and in deference of any Revenue Officer on the spot who may think himself possessed of a prior right to detain such goods for payment of the proper duties. Notwithstanding this notice we have directed our officers of the Preventive Guard and others on the coast of the Isle of Wight to secure all wrecks that may be driven on shore and in no instances to suffer any Lord of the Manor to remove goods in such circumstances.

But as it is possible that such peculiar cases Officers may be exceeding the province of our duty in detaining the goods in view of the Crown Patent and as the claims of these Lords of the Manor are avowedly rested on a cause tried at York Summer Assizes 1809. Viz Attorney General versus Constable Esq, Lord of the Manor, Holderness. We pray your Honors Special Instructions on points submitted for our guidance.


12 February 1811           Yesterday morning the Brig Bank Note, Cornell Master, from St Michaels, London with 1100 chests of Oranges bound for London, was driven on shore at Atherfield on the South part of the Isle of Wight and remains in a perilous situation. The Comptroller, taking with him some trusty Tidesmen has proceeded to the wreck, 15 miles from Cowes, to assist in salving the cargo and to protect it from Embezzlement in order that such Duties as may be due thereon are properly secured.

We take this occasion to represent to your Honors that it has been usual for time immemorial for Officer to give their attendance in such emergencies as ships being wrecked, the preservation of the cargo depending much on their presence & from being a distance from their Houses, to receive from the Owners of the Goods salved or the Agents concerned an Allowance per day agreeable to the rate on the back hereof, but as the Treasury Warrant of the 19 January 1809, abolishing Fees, prohibits certain Officers from taking Fees, Rewards or Gratuities, except from the Crown, and, as your Honors subsequent Orders of 5th April 1809 and 7th September following granting relief to Officers executing their Duty at a distance from the Custom House do not embrace or contemplate any allowances to officers acting at wrecks in the joint capacities of Revenue Officers and Salvors, a service most important the Interests of the Crown, and Essential to the Merchants, generally performed in bad tempestuous weather and at the risk of Peoples Health, it being impossible to keep free from wet, and a Nightly guard being indispensable, we humbly pray your Honors will signify your pleasure that officers employed on such special and disagreeable Service shall be permitted to receive such Gratuities and Allowances at wrecks as they have been accustomed to receive at such emergencies, which is respectfully submitted.

Rate of ancient allowances received by officers of the Customs at Cowes for extra day or night attendance at wrecks at the back of the Isle of Wight and for affording protection to wreck goods.


£1 – 1 – 0 per diem


£1 – 1 – 0 per diem

Land Surveyor      

15s per diem

Riding Surveyor 

15s per diem

Landing Waiter

12s 6d per diem


12s 6d per diem

Coast Waiter

10s 6d per diem

Riding Officer 

10s 6d per diem

Sitters of Boats

10s 6d per diem


5s per diem


5s per diem


20 February 1811           Inclosed we transmit a representation from Mr James Williams, Sitter of the Preventive Boat at Atherfield complaining that one of the Boatmen had been bound over last Saturday by the Magistrates of the Isle of Wight to appear at the County Sessions at Winchester in about a fort’night to answer an accusation of assault on the person of James Wheeler, who we had detected with a bag of oranges on his back – subject to duties and purloined from the wreck of the Brig – Bank Note – lost on the back of the Isle of Wight.

As the practice, on the powers of a Revenue officer, stated by Mr Williams in his letter to have been promulgated by the Magistrates in open Court, and in the hearing of our assemblage of the lower class people may have a tendency to counteract the existence of our Preventive Guard and enable smugglers to pursue their traffic and to embezzle wreck goods in defiance of Preventive Officers.

We earnestly entreat your Honors will give this case early and serious consideration that we may be instructed in what way Cowper’s suit should be defended.


1 March 1811                The Collector having occasion to be absent from the Port for a short period on his private affairs humbly requests your Honors leave of absence for 10 days.


19 March 1811               As enjoined by your order of the 13th instant, we have considered the proposed Form of Certificate intended for the use of the Sitters of Preventive Boats and hereby submit our opinion that it will prevent such irregularity in attendance of crews and prove extremely useful to us – in advancing them their day pay.


23 March 1811               We herewith transmit accounts of the sales of sundry seizures of Tobacco & Snuff made by the Officers of Portsmouth, Southampton & this Port, on which we pray your Orders when adjusted & the Officers shares determined on. To the accounts is annexed one for some Snuff which would not sell for the Duties & have in consequence been burnt & we beg directions for paying the Seizing Officer the Reward he is entitled to, being £0 – 9 – 7½.


23 March 1811               We humbly pray your Honors directions for paying to the Seizing Officers of the two Boats Condemned in the Exchequer & subsequently broken up and sold, the sum of £39 – 0 – 0 according to the inclosed account being the amount of Tonnage Rewards.


27 March 1811               We are requested by the Widow Ferris to lay before your Honors a copy of an application made by her late husband in November 1809 humbly praying that as he was not an accessory to the Loss of the Swan Cutter captured by the Enemy – that you would be pleased to grant him a Compensation for Provisions and sundry private stores and articles he had shipped on board said Cutter for the benefit of the Service.

Mrs Ferris is a resident of Cowes and has under her charge a son and daughter unprovided for and begs to say that she would be gratefully thankful for such allowance as you may see right to make her.


29 March 1811               On the 8th February we represented to your Honors that certain Lords of the Manor in the Isle of Wight, holding Patent Rights from the Crown, had signified their determination in the event of Derelict Goods being thrown on their Privileged Estates, to appropriate the same to their Personal Benefit, whether subject to Duties or not and denying the Authority of the Revenue to interfere therein – on which we prayed your Honors Instructions for our guidance, but not having received any reply – we are again necessitated to state, that on the 6 Inst. Mr Jas. Williams, Sitter of the Preventive Boat at Atherfield, hearing that a Log of Mahogany had been conveyed from the Sea Shore within the limits of Sir John Barrington’s Prescriptive Grant from the Crown, to the premises of Farmer Wm. Arnold at Waitcourt Farm, in the Parish of Brixton, (a tenant of the Dowager Lady Mildmay) called on said Farmer Arnold & demanded a lien on the Log of Mahogany, for the Crowns Duties, which he established by putting the Kings broad Arrow thereon, enjoining at the same time the said Arnold not to move it & that if he did, or permitted it, he must take the consequences, Sir John Barrington yesterday, by his Solicitors, Messrs. Clarke & Sewell, gave the Collector notice, that he meant to keep custody of the Mahogany in defiance of any Efforts of the Revenue Officers to remove it, if they were so inclined to do, but that he had no objection of entering into and undertaking to pay such Duties, as the Law may compel him to. To which proposal we have replied that no such engagement with regard to the Payment of the Duties, can be made by us without your Honors express approval intimating to the Parties, that in case of the removal of the Mahogany from Farmer Arnold’s Premises to any distant spot, with the King’s Mark on it & without our concurrence, we should consider such an act an obstruction, & further that if the log is altered in shape or Converted to any Articles of Furniture in less time than Twelve Months & a Day, as prescribed by 9 Sec. of 12 Ann Chap. 18, a violation of the Law. To these observations the Solicitor has rejoined, that as the Officers of Customs have no legal claim to the Article itself, - abstractedly from the duties of the Lord of the Manor, may move it or cut it up at his option, he being in Law responsible only to the rightful owner, whenever he may make his appearance. In a complicated question of this nature, we require from your Honors special, & we pray early, instructions for our Government. The worth of the mahogany is supposed to be £20, the weight of it is thought to be near a ton & the Duties will amount to £7 – 6 – 8 or thereabouts.

9 April 1811                   The Customs tenure in the Watch House at West Cowes terminating of 24 June next, the Trustees of the Proprietor, now a Minor, but who will attain her majority the day after the expiration of the Lease tender to your Honors by the inclosed Lease for the same premises for 7, 14 or 21 years at the augmented rent of £40 per annum in view of £18 – 18 – 0 now paid. The premises consist of a small Dwelling House for the Occupancy of the Tide Surveyor and his family, a Platform and room in front for his Boat Crew to keep guard in and a room beneath for storing boats. The same has been rented by the Crown for above 50 years and is particularly eligible for a Watch House, on account of it contiguity to the Water, the Harbours Mouth and Roadsted of Cowes.

Altho’ the Conditions of the present and former leases have been to keep the premises in repair we have never considered you Honors covenanted for the Crown to pay out more than was absolutely necessary to keep them Wind and Watertight and therefore uniformly objected to any interior work. The house being very old the materials of it appear on a survey much decayed, the platform in front, which is wholly constructed of wood so perished that it must be replaced by new work to render it safe for people to walk on. The estimate for doing these essential repairs to both houses amounts to £150. If it will remain for you Honors consideration whether such a sum be expended by the Crown or another persons property should not be in abatement from such yearly rent as may be hereafter determined on, which is respectfully submitted.


20 April 1811                 Pursuant to your order of the 23rd March last, we exposed to Public Sale 17 Seized Boats, 9 out of which only having yielded their appraised value, 8 more remain to be sold. As boats are the more difficult Articles to preserve from the Injury of the Seasons – instances having occurred of some being totally lost & destroyed but the sudden effects of gales of wind, we humbly submit the expediency of your Honors permitting us to dispose of the said remaining 8 boats for the most money they will respectively fetch.


20 April 1811                 Inclosed we transmit an application from Mr Holloway – the Searcher – praying a months Leave of Absence – Mr Holloway is in a very precarious state of health and he has not had permission from your Honors to be absent from this Port since the 1st July 1808.


30 April 1811                 Pursuant to your order of the 26th inst., we communicated to Mr James Williams, Sitter of the Atherfield Boat your Honors opinion on the complaint preferred against him by Mr John Roach and further directed him to repair to London to be appointed Mate of the Scorpion cutter for which port he set of this evening.

With regard to William Manner, the Deputed Boatman, we report that he is 53 years of age, and that by his own account, he has been 29 years in the Service, 14 of them as Deputed Mariner on boats, the Falcon cutter, Captain Newland, and that he was never charged with any offence during that span. He seems quite well disposed Man, but labours under the misfortune of not being able to write or read. The Duty of a Sitter is of such a nature the we think it requires a robust constitution – Activity – Soundness of mind – and certainly the ability to Read, under which persuasion we cannot consider him exactly the man for the situation of Sitter of a Preventive Boat.


2 May 1811                   We have to acknowledge your Honors communication of the 18th ult. signifying your pleasure that all contributions to the Superannuation Funds should cease from the 5th inst. and that all payments of Pensions, Superannuation, and allowance in future, should be paid out of the Consolidated Customs. William Gregory, the only superannuated officer at this port, has been paid his quarterly allowance of five pound.


21 May 1811                 In obedience to your Order of a New Plan of the Land Guard, we transmit inclosed an account of the Surveyor of Riding Officers at the Port. And we beg leave to humbly submit for your Honors consideration whether the Port of Cowes on account of its insular state, had not better be deemed an Abstract establishment for Riding Officers under the New Plan instead of being incorporated with a line of Continental District as in winter time vessels with horses on board have difficulty in making the pilotage to the Isle of Wight, occurrences of which nature would in a degree frustrate the object of the plan by preventing that facile and easy access to Riding Officers at their stations by the Inspector which we humbly approached your Honors aspect.

The village of Ryde being much increased of late years and a number of Warehouses being actually constructed the coasting duties now performed by Mr Chiverton one of the Riding Officers is becoming important and would require the establishment of a new Officer for this duty if Mr Chiverton is directed hereafter to act exclusively as a Riding Officer, which is respectfully submitted.

The establishment of a second Preventive Boat at Atherfield reduces very much in our estimation the value of Riding Officers and we think that if this is permitted to be a small local Establishment on the new Principle under the Inspection of Mr Robey, the present Riding Surveyor with increased salary and allowances for the keep of a horse and no travelling expenses and the same rates of salary and allowances to the Riding Officers under his inspection the alteration of pay would be sufficient in which case we should recommend Mr Robey should be moved to Ryde where his services to co-operate with at time may be useful instead of being, as he now does, contiguous for the Boat Crew at Atherfield.


8 June 1811                  As instructed by your order we have made Enquiry whether other premises can be secured at a moderate rent and equally eligible for a Watchhouse at West Cowes other than those already in possession of the Crown or now under tender to your Honors on a renewed lease for 21 years at £40 per annum. And not being able to learn of any house or premises unoccupied for the purpose required. Miss Goosell being willing to reduce the terms tendered to 36 guineas per annum, we on due Consideration of the value of the property at Cowes and the preferred eligibility of the Spot recommend your Honors to accept the proposal.


18 June 1811                 Having in accordance with your Order, signified in Mr Secretary’s letter of 11th inst. called on Captain Ferris of the Stork cutter to account for being so constantly off Lymington, he has produced us a copy of his Journal from the 1 May last to 10 June explanatory of the movements of the cutter for your Honors information.

We have enjoined Captain Ferris to an active and zealous discharge of his Duty, and to afford support to a system of Waterguard that already in its trial has proved so beneficial to the Revenue, and is likely in its consequence by the concurrent efforts of the Cutters and Boating officers is likely to prevent the revival of the illicit traffic in these Ports – which he promises to attend to – and we have taken occasion to observe to him that we cannot see under any reasoning that a Cutter within the Wight from the buoy at Bembridge Eastwards to the Needles Westwards either at anchor or cruising can be considered on Duty unless the whole space is covered rather than being in Harbour. As the Stork and Rose are Cutters of the largest class in the Service, and capable of efficient defence, and both attached to Ports within the Wight – we suggest for your Honors consideration that some rule should be laid down to prevent both Cutters sailing within the Isle of Wight at the same juncture.


8 July 1811                   On the monthly abstract of Duties transmitted to your Honors’ this day we have stated there is waiting to discharge Salaries and Incidentals at the Port the 5th Inst £4000 & there being no probability that the receipt of Customs will in any reasonable time enable the Collector to make the payments enumerated on the back hereof, he humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to grant him an Imprest Bill to pay the necessary Expenses of the Port.


£382 – 10 – 6


Swallow (Cutter)

£825 – 0 – 0


Stork (Cutter)   

£600 – 0 – 0




1807 – 10 – 6 

Incidental Salaries


80 – 0 – 0

Boarding Bills  


150 – 0 – 0

Watching, Rowing & Attendance


300 – 0 – 0 

Tradesmen’s Bills


124 – 10 – 5

Poundage & Metage


70 – 0 – 0



21 – 15 – 4

Hart (Cutter)


760 – 0 – 0

Drake (Cutter)


535 – 0 – 0

Lion (Cutter)


470 – 0 – 0

Nimble (Cutter)


265 – 0 – 0

Wolf (Cutter)


265 – 0 – 0

Mary (Cutter)


125 – 0 – 0



£4973 – 15 – 9

Towards discharge of which there is in the Kings Chests

973 -  15 – 9

Remains to be Impressed

£400 – 0 – 0


9 July 1811                   We have today forwarded by the Mail Coach from Southampton the undermentioned Accounts for the month ended the 5th inst. for the Freight and Carriage of which was 2s 8d is paid. The Proper Officers have certified that the Weights, Beams, Scales, and Bushels used by them in the last month are correct.

No.1     Absent Officers

No.2     Arrival and Sailing of Revenue Cruisers

No.3     Arrival and Sailing of Admiralty Cruisers

No.4     Abstract of Petty Receipts

No.5     Three Copies of Certificates of Ships Registry

No.6     Two Cancelled Certificates ditto

No.7     Account of Vessels & their Cargoes entered and Warehoused under the Act No. 44 of the King.

No.8     Account of Goods and Merchandize Imported Warehoused & Exported under the Act No. 44 of the King.

No.9     Account of the Arrival of all Vessels which have sailed under His Majesty’s Licence.

No.10   Account of Seizure Money paid to the Military.


9 July 1811                   Pursuant to your order of the 6th Inst., we transmit the enclosed Certificate of the Baptism and Qualification of William J Eates nominated to be a Tide Waiter at this Port by which it will appear that he is 33 years of Age and capable of the Duty required of him. He has followed the occupation of a Rope Marker, is a sober man, was never known to be connected with smuggling or to obstructed a Revenue Officer.

We also forward similar Certificates for William Meades to be a Tide Waiter, as directed by your Honors order of the 6th Inst. – This man has been an Extraman upwards of 20 years in the Service, has occasionally appointed Work-Keeper to the discharge of Ships Cargoes and is capable of the duty to which he is nominated. The Certificate of Baptism is defective by virtue of there being no Register in the Parish Church of Wootton in which he was Baptised of earlier date than the year 1781, but from the circumstances of his being so long in your Honors Employment and yet in appearance being a young man we do not doubt the allegation that he is only 44 Years of age, and that Register is wanting, particularly as the present Rector, Mr White, has also certified the fact.


31 July 1811                  Robert Dore, one of the Boatman belonging to the Preventive Boat at Yarmouth, having been charged under your order for disorderly conduct and insolence to the Sitter, his Commander. We transmit herein his answer in which he admits the truth of the allegation against him and expresses his Contrition for the Offence. Dore has been several years in the Service. The present complaint being the first preferred against him, we are humbly of the opinion if your Honors should think it proper to restore him to his situation in the Boat, on the faith of his promise that he will never be guilty of like behaviour or neglect of duty, he may prove himself a Serviceable Man to the Revenue, which is respectfully submitted.


1 August 1811               Mr William Arnold, Sitter of the Preventive Boat No. 18 as appears by his return annexed seized 95 new Deal Boards and 12 Window Shutters on the 26th Ult. at Freshwater in this Port for being brought Coastwise from another Port without any Dispatch whatever.

The day after the Seizure was made the Applicant produced to us two Sufferances for the goods in question as he states, but which the Seizing Officer says from the Enquiry he made at the Custom House Lymington were obtained at 6 o’clock in the evening, 4 hours subsequent to the Seizure.

We are inclined to believe that our Coast Laws and Regulations are too often treated with great Laxity and Indifference by Traders and Masters of Vessels and that such conduct receives encouragement from the Lax manner in which Coast Waiters sometimes discharge their duty by endorsing the shipment of the goods subsequent to them leaving of which the present appears an instance.


16 August 1811             Annexed is a copy of the Agent’s Bill of the Entry for the Duties rec’d on 83 Boxes Oranges salved from the wreck of the Bank Note amounting to £18 – 19 – 1 & likewise a transcript of the Customary Charges made /and allowed for time immemorial / at this Port for Revenue Officers attendance, assistance and troubles in aiding the salving & securing said Oranges amounting to £17 – 16 – 6, making together a total of £36 – 5 – 7 paid at this Office for Special Services rendered. The Agent was apprized by us, prior to passing his Bill for Entry for the Oranges, that is usual in the case of wrecks and where foreign goods were salved, & liable to duty, to submit to your Honors a statement of the Salvage Charges & to solicit a remission of duties to pay Salvage, but the Oranges being in a perishable condition, Mr Day, the Agent, preferred yielding to the alternative we insisted on of paying the Duties before the Sale of the Oranges, that there might be no obstacle to Delivery of them, afterwards from the Warehouse intimating however, that the concern here after would apply for relief. The Bank Note was laden when she was sunk on the back of the Isle of Wight with 1100 boxes of Oranges, & had not the weather proved Tempestuous, it is probable that the presence and assistance of the Revenue Officers sent to the spot would have contributed to the preservation of the whole instead of 83, in the salving of which they were essentially instrumental. Following the Items of charge in your Honors order of the 18th Ult. on our representation of the disagreeable Duties Officers had to perform on such Special & Serious Emergencies & praying that a continuance of the Customary allowance may be permitted.


21 August 1811             As directed by your order we have made strict and full enquiry respecting Mr William Holloway, Searcher in the Customs. His fidelity in office and his present infirmities and are satisfied from his inability to move out of his house for several weeks together by reason of his sore legs and general ill health that he is incompetent to discharge the duty required from him as Searcher of Customs. In further confirmation of which we annex for your Honors satisfaction the Medical Certificate from a respective Professional at West Cowes.

Copy of Medical Certificate – This is to certify that Mr William Holloway, Searcher of Customs at the Port of Cowes is infirm with age and afflicted with sore legs so as to make it impossible for him to attend the duties of his Office – Henry Brown, Surgeon.


26 August 1811             Inclosed is Captain Ferris’s answer to your Honors enquiry respecting the Stork being so much in Port in the month of June last. The Rose being at Deptford under repair we suggest that Captain Johnson may be called on for his explanation of the Cutter under his Command being so often off Lymington. We humbly submit if the Registrar of the Waterguard was directed to abstract from the Journals delivered in at his office at the expiration of each quarter, the number of days each cutter appeared in Port in every quarter and to lay the same before your Honors for inspection, you would at one view be able to judge on the merit of the several commanders and distinguish the active from the inefficient.

For Example: Michaelmas Quarter ……… Cutters Journal:

Cruizing at sea in this quarter                             70 days

At anchor in different places & in harbour             27 days

                                                                        97 days

Captain Ferris’s Answer: The reason of my being so often within the Isle of Wight in the month of June last as mentioned in the Yarmouth Sitter’s Journal, has already been accounted for to the Hon. Board in my letter of the 17th June last which I flatter myself would be satisfactory – Copy of which I now transcribe. The Stork is just returned from a weeks cruizing from the coast of Sussex, and at all times endeavour to keep my cruizing station as much as possible.


4 September 1811         On the 10th of May last we transmitted to your Honors a tender from Miss Goosell, proprietor of the Watch House at West Cowes offering the premises to the Crown on a new lease of 21 years at 36 Guineas per annum. Your Honors having given no answer thereto we have this moment received the inclosed letter expressing that unless she receives a formal acceptance of the terms proposed by next Tuesday she expects possession of the premises. We accordingly entreat your decision.

Letter from Miss Goosell: As it is at least three Months I have been expecting an answer from the Honorable Board of Customs about my house called the Watch House and after offering it to them at the low rent of 36 Guineas per annum for 21 years. I beg to inform you I fully expect possession of the premises before Tuesday next unless the Board agrees to give me the sum before that time.

Signed Susan W Goosell.


7 September 1811         Having communicated your instructions on the new System of Landguard dated 30th Ult. to Mr Wm. Robey and Mr Rd. Chiverton, the two Officers therein named. – We acquaint your Honors that Mr Wm. Robey, in obedience to your Honors Order intends taking the earliest practical occasion to repair to his new proposed residence at Ryde. On the proposition of removing Mr Chiverton to Niton, our Duty prompts us to submit to your Honors consideration that we think Chivertons Qualifications as Coast Waiter, which has derived from several years practice, his good conduct since the restoration of his Health, his firmness of manner to all persons in the execution of his duty on every occasion & his knowledge of the habits of the seafaring people at Ryde recommend him as most suitable to be fixed there as permanent Coast Waiter in preference to any one we can point out. The constant intercourse between Vessels & Boats between Portsmouth, Spithead, & the Motherbank is now become so considerable, as to demand the steady attendance of a Coast Waiter to prevent those Frauds that would be successfully practiced, if your Honors had a less firm Officer that Chiverton. And as Mr E Dixon now stationed at Niton, 64 years of Age, is an active man & has a much better education that Chiverton, we recommend his application to your Honors to be Established Coast Waiter at Ryde & that Dixon, who is in Healthy & capable of service should remain at Niton.


23 September 1811       Conformable to your Order of the 20th Inst. – we acquainted Mr Holloway, the Searcher, Assistant Landing Waiter, and Comptrolling Surveyor of the Warehouses at the Port – that the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury had been pleased to place him on the Superannuation List under the Regulations of the 50th of the King Ch. 117, and agreeable to your further Direction has delivered to us his Commission and Instructions.

And it being essential that the Duties of the respective offices should be provided for, during the vacancy, we have selected Mr Henry Cox, the Senior Landing Waiter, and Comptrolling Searcher of the Port for that purpose, and have by letter, copy of which is subjoined, directed him to act accordingly, which we trust your Honors will approve.


4 October 1811             The inclosed is a petition from the Daughters of Mr R Comben, Mate of the late Swan Cutter and still a prisoner in France to whom we were directed by your Honors Orders to pay Quarterly their Fathers Salary at the rate of £35 per annum and who now pray to have paid to them the difference between £100 per annum and £35 from the 5 January 1810 conformable to the General Regulations for Augmenting Commanders and Mates Salaries in the Service bearing the date 4 Sept. 1809.


10 October 1811            On the 10 Ultimo, a Lieut. In Command of the Ant Admiralty Schooner, attached to the Flag Ship at Spithead deposited in the Custom House warehouse at this Port a Hogshead of Cyder which he informed us he received from the Barbados Frigate guiding in the Channel commanded by Captain Rushworth as a present for his father the Gentleman now applying for it. Mr Rushworth resides at Freshwater and is a Magistrate of the Island and on his desiring to have the Cyder delivered to his servant we acquainted him the Cyder was chargeable with Duty and also we believe with Excise Duty and even if it was Guernsey Cyder the duty could not be dispensed with unless he produced a letter from the Government and Registrar which the Law has prescribed or under your Honors Instruction for admitting it as a free entry. [Rushworth subsequently decided the Cyder was not worth the duty and the Collector requested the Board that it be sold to the highest bidder.]


28 October 1811            On the 11th Inst. Mr Arnold, Sitter of the Preventive Boat at Yarmouth, and Mr Robert Willis, the Stationary Boatman at that Port, brought to the Custom House Two People whom they suspected to be trafficking Smuggled Goods, but on their appearance before us stated themselves to be John and Margerett Wiffin of Hull in Yorkshire – Travelling Hawkers and Pedlars – for which they should have a regular License – In the examination of a large bale, 5 pieces and length of India Muslin and two remnants of French Cambric were discovered – which the Officers detained to abide your Honors Orders.

Arnold having cause to suspect Mrs Wiffin had goods secreted about her person insisted on her being searched and tho’ she denied having any Articles about her, there were taken from her Pockets - Round her waist and under her Petticoats by the Messengers Wife, whom we directed to search her on the occasion, the following Articles – 14 cards and 3 lengths of Lace, part of which bears evident marks of French manufacture, and a remnant of Silk.

Arnold also took from the person of the husband, secreted in his shirt sleeve, 2 cards and 1 length of Lace. All which Lace and Silk from such behaviour of the Parties they seized on suspicion of being Foreign Lace. No License was produced authorising these People to sell British Lace.


29 October 1811            We have to acknowledge your Honors Order of 25th Inst. signifying that you have been pleased to direct prosecution in the Exchequer of certain Seizures transmitted in our letter of 20th September in which there was one – of a quantity of Salt – seized by William Arnold, sitter of the Preventive Boat No. 18 at South Yarmouth.

This salt instead of being foreign as implied in your Honors Order, is proved by a comparison of its grain and quality with a large body of salt in the Warehouse at Lymington to be of the same manufacture and Robert Broadley, John Gilbert, and John Kelleway, in whose possession it was when seized by Arnold, were seen lurking about the Salt works at Lymington the morning of the day of the seizure, and which fact we have cause to believe. We pray that we may receive directions for prosecuting the parties under the 36 Sect of the 38th of the King Ch 89 – “the Salt being found in their possession in a boat making for the shore at 12 o’clock at night – without any Legal or Authentic Permit for removing the same.”

Enclosed are two letters from Charles Barbe Esq. on the subject of the Salt Seizures – who offers his Services in the Prosecution of the parties in any way that his or other evidence will be admissible.


1 November 1811          Having investigated Captain Love’s complaint against the Preventive Boat No. 18 at Yarmouth for affording no assistance to His Majesty’s Ship Pomone and received the verbal declarations of the Sitter and his Boats Crew, as well as the written answer which is annexed.

We are humbly of the opinion that the absence of the Commissioned Boatman and two others of the crew on duty at Freshwater, 4 miles from Yarmouth, incapacitated the Boat from repairing to the spot where Captain Love wished it. It being impractical for 3 men to row a six oared boat with effect any distance against the tide. It appears the people returned from their Look out at Freshwater to Yarmouth between 12 & 1 o’clock that night, and that the Sitter with commendable promptness so used them at 5 o’clock the same morning and proceeded instantly to the Inspecting Commander of Cutters at Lymington – Communicating the accident and requiring his Orders.

That he was directed by Captain Blake, who had dispatched one of his Boats in the night to the Needles, to row to the sunk cutter, and order off a boat, which having accomplished, the Sitter returned to Yarmouth, took in some refreshment for his people, and at 11 o’clock the same morning took Captain Love / who is now complaining of him / in the Preventive Boat to the Pomone to confer with Captain Barrie. From that Period Viz. – the 15th of October to the total destruction of the wreck – we have reason to think the Preventive Boat was properly and actively employed in enforcing the Temporary Restraint of Quarantine on the vessels that had saved the Frigate stores by preventing embezzlements and by picking up the goods.

It is our Urgent Instruction to the Water Guard in general that in incidents of Accident and Ship wreck that they should give the most immediate and prompt assistance they are capable of, whereby Lives and Property may be rescued from Peril.

In the present case we are not able to discover that our injunctions have been unattended to, the moment the Boat was capable of Service – much less do we see any cause for the complaint Captain Love has thought proper to proffer – as no Lives were lost nor any Articles of Private Property, deserving of notice.


8 November 1811          The enclosed is a memorial from Samuel Alder appointed by your Order of the 17th Ultimo to be a Riding Officer at Niton in this Port under the New Land Guard System. From the date of your Honors said Order of the 17th Ultimo we placed him on the Quarterly Establishment, to be paid at the expiration of the present Quarter at the Rate specified in the Boards Order of the 16th May last, but we humbly submit that the Collector at Southampton should pay Alder as Riding Officer & Coast Waiter under the old system, up to the 17th October exclusive to which time, he informs us, he did duty at that Port. To afford encouragement in conformity to your Honors Order, we have paid him £30 on account of his horse.


8 November 1811          The Conduct of Mrs Wiffin after the Bale had been searched from which the Muslins were taken by declaring that she had no other Goods whatever about her, though the Lace was afterwards discovered secreted under her petticoats, justifies us we submit in doubting the accuracy of the Affidavit. – The oath appears extremely guarded – as no mention is made of the Foreign Silk Seized, and expresses that the British Lace is part of that specified in the Bills of Parcels – leaving us to determine what proportion is Foreign and what British, contrary to the Act of the 46th Geo. 3rd Ch 81 and as the 12 Sec places the emphasis on the person in whose possession it is found. We forward an experienced judgement that the piece of Black Silk upwards of 5 yards is of Foreign Manufacture – it being 7/8 wide, a Width no British Silk is made of, as that never exceeds the half and that consequently the Silk is forfeited by the Enactment of 6 Geo 3rd Ch 28 – and Mrs Mary Wiffen liable to the Penalties of £200 under the 2nd and 3rd Sect. of the Act. Of the quantity of Lace Seized, 9 cards and 2 lengths are deemed by judges of the Articles unequivocally French Lace and the remaining 7 cards to savour strongly of the same fabric. No Mark, Seal or Hand Writing to denote the Duties having been paid as enacted by the 10th Sect of 46th of the King Ch 81 is on the end of either or any piece, and that subjects Mrs Wiffin (besides the forfeiture of the Lace) to a Penalty of £50.

Mrs Wiffin being a dealer in Lace for not complying with the Laws Requisites has subjected herself also to the additional Penalties:

£50 and £5        For not taking out a License pursuant to 20 Sec, 46 Geo 3 Ch 81

£50 and £5        For not having the word Dealer in Foreign and Dealer in British Lace painted on the boxes conveying such Lace … …

Of late considerable quantities of Lace and Foreign Silks have been clandestinely introduced into this country from Guernsey by people of the calling and description of Mrs Wiffin, and we know of no remedy to suppressing the practice, but a Rigid Prosecution of the Parties on whom such interdicted Articles are found unless they most satisfactorily explain to your Honors that the whole of the Goods in their possession are of British Manufacture or otherwise, the proper Duties having been paid thereon.


15 November 1811        Inclosed is a memorial to your Honors from John Gilbert, one of the Tide Waiters at this Port, praying that as his Age and Infirmities Incapacitate him from Duty that your Honors will be pleased to place him on the Superannuation List. It appears on reference to our books, he is upwards of 71 years of Age, and that he was admitted to Office on the 28th June 1786 and we fully subscribe to the Certificate of the Tide Surveyor from our own conviction that he is no longer fit for service.

The Collector has always advanced him his Day Pay, as it is become due, but as he has no directions to make an advance beyond that, without your Honors Orders, he has acted accordingly.

Gilbert has only been able to serve your Honors 32 days in the present years, and is now confined to the House by the miserable state of his Legs and Debility. We therefore humbly submit that he is a proper object for the Superannuation List.


15 November 1811        The articles seized by the Coast Waiter at Newport, a copy of the Seizure Note is appended, are:

100 Slop Jackets

144 pairs Stockings

60 Paint Brushes

60 pairs Gaiters

200 Leather Shoes

43 Canvas Deck Trousers

the descriptions of which falls within the pale of His Majestys Prohibiting Order in Council of 12 July 1793 confirmed by Order of 19 July last.


25 November 1811     As directed by your Order of the 20th Inst. we have received Mrs Wiffen’s Affidavit in proof that the Lace seized by Arnold & Willis the 11th October last, is part of that particularized in two Bills of Parcels & that the same was bought in a fair way of Trade at Mr Todd’s Lace Shop, No 153 Cheapside, London, which is respectfully submitted.



1811 - 1812

Cowes Letters Books

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

4 August 2009