Collector to Board Letters Book 1816


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/28, 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 March 1816               Inclosed is an Application from Mr Richard Comben, Mate of the Stork Cutter praying on account of his age (64) and his inability to perform the active Duties of this Office that he be placed on the Superannuated List with the usual Victualling Allowance. Mr Comben has been 34 years in the Revenue Employ and in the early period of Service showed himself an active, zealous and successful Officer, which is respectfully submitted.


1 April 1816                   Your Honors having thought proper by your Order of 2nd January last to disallow certain charges for supplies and work, made by sundry Tradesmen at this Port for the Wolf Cutter in pursuance of the Commanders directions in the Midsummer Quarter 1815. The Tradesmen suffering by such dedications humbly request by the inclosed application as the Crown has benefited from such work and supplies that your Honors will be pleased to reconsider your Order and direct them to be paid their claims.


2 April 1816                   In Obedience to that part of your Honors Order of 13th January 1816 which directs us specially to report on the Competence of Mr Charles Leigh the Coast Waiter at Yarmouth and whether he is equal to the performance of Creek Coast Duty. We have to state that Mr Leighs capacity in early life was always extremely shallow and being in the 62nd year of his age and troubled with Rheumatism he is not only incompetent to the Duties of his Office but unable we believe if a he were to hastily pass a man in the Street with a Cask of Spirit on his shoulder he could not for want of Strength and Activity take it from him.  For which Reasons and those more particularly specified in the Surveyors Report, we submit he ought to be superannuated.


8 April 1816                   Inclosed is a copy of the Sitters note on the seizure of the vessel Peace and the delivery of John Russell Thorne, John Wicker, and Isaac Jackson to the Queen Charlotte Man of War. The case in question, though of a fraudulent complexion, is we submit, as severe on one of the parties who from having an Excess of Spirits of 5 Bottles secreted under the Living Boards of the Vessel hold beyond the quantity of Sea Stock limited by 45 Geo 3 Ch 121 have placed themselves within the pale of the Law, and also within the Letter of your Honors positive injunction to secure Seamen guilty of Offences against the Revenue, not having any cause to believe Contraband Goods were seen from the Peace. We submit under said circumstances if your Honors may not be disposed to recommend their Releases.

The vessel has a running Bowsprit exceeding 2/3rds of her deck, but Mr Motley Tide Surveyor at Portsmouth on account of the Vessels draught of water told him that she was not liable to Licence.

The Sitter has not received neither has any application been made to your Honors for Payment of the usual Rewards for capturing the Parties.


16 April 1816                 In return to you Order of the 10th Inst. in the inactivity of William Manner Commissioned Boatman in the Preventive Boat No. 19 reported 7th March last pursuant to your Honors General Order 24th February Ult., we report that Manners inactivity is the consequence of Age and does not arise from any muscular injury or bodily complaint.

The Sitter with whom we have consulted on Manners capacity is of the opinion with ourselves that altho’ he cannot run quick any distance, that he may be continued a useful man in the Boat 2 or 3 Years or perhaps longer.


17 April 1816                 In obedience to your Honors Order of the 15th Inst., to report on the state of the Military at this Port, we transmit subjoined an Account of the number in the Isle of Wight distinguishing the Stations and the Infantry and Cavalry:




Waggon Train













































St. Lawrence





19 April 1816                 Last night the English Ketch Beresford of London John Gardman Master from Galipoli bound to St Petersburg came to anchor in Cowes Roadstead in a very damaged and leaky state – it being impossible for the Vessel to proceed on her voyage without having the necessary repairs effected.

The Superintendent as authorized by the 7th Sec. of His Majesty’s Order in Council of the 5th April 1805 has laid the said transient Ketch under Restraint of Quarantine (her Cargo consisting wholly of oil) which will be duly enforced ‘till your Honors Orders are read for her release – Inclosed are the Masters Answers on oath to the Preliminary Questions – with a Clean Bill of Health dated Gallipoli 17th February 1816.


25 April 1816                 It appearing on a reference to the Parish Register that Mr Charles Leigh’s Age is 58 instead of 60 as erroneously brought forward in our list of Officers Ages.

Inclosed we return the Printed Questions Calculated for an Officer above 60 Years of Age, and request your Honors will be pleased to send down the Form for one under 60 Years – Mr Leighs infirmities rendering incapable of Executing the Duties of his Office.


25 April 1816                 As permitted by your Honors Order of the 4th May 1815, we transmit an application from Mr Edward Dixon Riding Officer at Niton in this Port under the old system praying to be allowed £15 for Keep of a Horse in the last Half Year ended the 5th April.

As Mr New has by the inclosed Certificate acknowledged Dixons Duty to have been satisfactorily discharged, the payment of the sum is respectfully submitted.


30 April 1816                 Inclosed is a representation from Colonel Mainwaring, Commander of the Military in the Isle of Wight – explaining to your Honors – that a cask of Whiskey seized on the 15th Inst. by Messrs. Robey and Leale in the Quarters of Captain Wilkinson of the 5th Batt. of the 60th Reg. at Ryde was taken on Board a Transport by that Officer at Cork for the use of the Map Officers of the Battalion on their way to Gibraltar and that the said Whiskey was bought in a Lawful Manner in Cork @ 10/6 per Gallon & no Duty being drawn back.

Subjoined is a copy of the Seizing Officers report – in which we have to add – that on every occasion – when we have had to appeal to Colonel Mainwaring for the Services of the Military in support of the Revenue – that Gentleman has shown prompt attention to our request.

Should your Honors under the circumstances declared by the Colonel be disposed to grant the restoration of the Whiskey it can remain in the Warehouse – till the Transports are ready to convey the Battalion to Gibraltar.


6 May 1816                   On the representation of Mr John Brown which relates to a Forfeited Deposit of £5 for not removing Spirits bought by him at our Sale on the 7th February last. We report that Mr Brown has never been at the Custom House or any one on his behalf to pay up the remainder of the purchase money since the day of the Sale now 3 months ago consequently he has no claim to a return of the Deposit.

With regard to the other part of his letter which complains of a Seizure of Two Hampers of Wine being made from him on account of an informality in the Coast Dispatches, the Coast Waiter explains that when he found the Wine was accompanied document he suffered it to pass.


6 May 1816                   In conformity to your Order of the 30th Ult. notifying the appointment of Mr James Snudden to be a Riding Officer at Shanklin within the Limits of the Port. We report that said Snudden has been Coast Waiter at Newport since 17th December 1801 – is now 37 Years of Age, very capable and Active having lately made several very good Seizures particularly one last week in conjunction with Mr Edward Dixon of 111 Casks of Spirits.


6 May 1816                   As commanded by your Letter of the 3rd Inst. on the Co-operation between the Officers of this Revenue and the Military stationed within this Port, we have to state that at our express desire Soldiers are placed by Order of Colonel Mainwaring the Commandant of the Isle of Wight at all the Public Houses at the Back of the Island situated near the Smugling Resorts – and that their Co-operative assistance is frequently and almost daily called into action by our Riding Officers. This distribution of the Military is quite sufficient and the best we could think of for the Service.

The only thing wanted is a little more urgency on the part of the soldiers in the performance of the Duty required of them, and a General Order from His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief declaring that Smugling or connivance at Smugling by any Commissioned or non Commissioned Officer or Private shall be henceforth be considered a misdemeanour and breach of Military Duty – and if detected punished as such.


6 May 1816                   As directed by your Order of the 30th Ult. signifying that Mr Edward Leigh was nominated Coast Waiter at Newport within the limits of this Port in the room of James Snudden resigned.

We transmit herewith a Copy of the Registry of Baptism of said Leigh by which it appears he is 40 years and 8 months old, Mr Leigh is sufficiently active and capable of performing the Duties of the Office of Coast Waiter was originally bred to the sea and has never been know or suspected of being concerned in Smugling or to have obstructed any Revenue officer in the execution of his Duty. [He was born in Thorley, Isle of Wight and admitted on the 2nd August.]


8 May 1816                   As Directed by your Order, we report that in one instance only have we considered it necessary to employ a Tide Waiter as a Cart Follower on attending Goods from the discharging Quay to the Bonded Premises Viz. 5 Days in the Months of April and May 1815 when a cargo of Deals was landed, the charge for which attendance at 2/6 per day and amounted to 12/6. We are decidedly of the Opinion that the Expense for a Cart Follower of the Goods from the Quay to the Bonded Warehouse may be safely dispensed with, it appearing to us when the Merchants Bond is taken and which is always done from the Warrant imposing the charge for the cargo, that the only Regulation necessary as a matter of check in the transit of goods from the Quay is a Ticket from the Landing Waiter to the Locker stationed at the Bonded Warehouse.


9 May 1816                   In Obedience to your order we transmit inclosed the Certificate of Baptism of George Woodrow who is Nominated to be a Tide Waiter at this Port in the Room of William Kates deceased by which it appears He is in the Thirty First Year of his Age. We Report that he appears sufficiently Active and capable of performing the Duties of the said Office and can write sufficiently to keep the Book directed to be kept by Tide Waiters stationed on board Ships. The last seven Years of his life he reports having been occupied as a Steward on a Man of War. He is not known or reported to have been involved in Smuggling or to have Obstructed any Revenue Officer in the Execution of his duty.

Copy of Certificate of Baptism

George Woodrow, Son of Robert and Mary Woodrow Baptised the twenty seventh Day of February one thousand seven hundred and eighty three. I certify the above is a true Extract from the Register of Baptisms of the Parish of Newchurch, Isle of Wight

Signed  W Sneyd, Curate of the Parish of Newchurch

[This was before the Official Registration of Births (1837), the only record was that of Baptisms in the Church Record, Newchurch Parish was a narrow strip of the Island stretching from Ryde to Ventnor. He was admitted on the 30th May.]


10 May 1816                 John Wheeler of Atherfield now under Prosecution for Illegally Importing a Quantity of Foreign Spirits in the Ann Cutter 14th October last having given the Bond required by 32nd Geo 3rd Ch 50 not to be concerned in such fraudulent Importations – Inclosed we transmit the Bond taken by us.


13 May 1816                 Rewards to the Military paid by the Collector.

Midsummer Quarter 1815

Major McDonald                         £10 – 2 – 6

            Michaelmas Quarter 1815

Major McDonald                         £2 – 18 – 1½

            Christmas Quarter 1815

Major Thomas Baylis                              £2 – 11 – 4

Lieut. Col. Brown                                   £6 – 13 – 4

                                                            £22 – 5 – 3½

The above Rewards to Soldiers for assisting the Officers of this Revenue in making and guarding Seizures having been paid in conformity to His Majesty’s Order in Council of the 9th September 1807 by the Collector immediately on the Seizure being made from the Receipt of Customs Duties / we having no Seizure money in hand / and credit taken for the same in the account of Incidents – We humbly request you will be pleased, according to the terms of the Honorable Boards Order, copy of which is annexed, to direct the Comptroller General to grant him a Certificate of Exoneration for £22 – 5 – 3½, the amount paid. The Inspector of our Port Collectors Accounts having returned the vouchers with a remark that the sum should have been paid out of the Kings share of Seizures.

As it is very seldom we have any Proceeds in hand arising from the sale of Condemned Goods, we take the liberty of suggesting to your Honors the expediency of directing by a General Order that the Rewards to the Military shall henceforth be distinctly paid out of the Receipts of Duty – otherwise the promptitude of Rewards enjoyed by His Majesty’s Order in Council cannot be fulfilled or the payment even offered at times, ‘till the Soldiers have embarked for a Foreign Station.


20 May 1816                 Mr William Arnold Sitter of the Preventive Boat no.18 having captured John Russell Thorne, John Wicker, and Isaac Jackson on board the Smugling Vessel Peace on 22nd March last which Vessel and Goods have since been ordered to be prosecuted by your Honors Letter of 9th April last and the men having been impressed into the Navy as the Law Directs as appears by the Certificate of the Commanding Officer of the Queen Charlotte Man of War which is inclosed.

The Sitter now prays your Honors to direct his being paid for himself and the Boats Crew the usual Reward of Sixty Pounds for capturing and delivering to the Navy the said three men.


20 May 1816                 The Lords of the Treasury having been pleased by their Minute of 28 September last of which we were apprised by your Honors Order of the 5th October following to authorise the Establishment of a Weigher at this Port and that is consequence of this appointment the Office of Joseph Jolliffe, Boatman at St Helens, should be abolished on a vacancy.

We respectfully inform your Honors that is now void by the death of said J Jolliffe on the 10th Instant as now reported to us.


24 May 1816                 That part of Mr Browns Letter scored in red ink is true but Mr Brown omits to mention the Collectors recommendation to get his Father to attend at the Custom House for him at the Custom House for him to see the Quantity of the Spirits drawn off and the Casks filled on which operation the exact amount could be furnished as he bought a more or less lot. Mr Brown did send some Casks from Poole to receive the Liquor but in so bad state that they wanted much coopering and no one on his part was here to give orders to such effect. On the 7th February 1816 we sold some Tobacco and Spirits to home consumption. The sale conditions was that the articles should be paid for and removed at the end of Seven Days which was complied with. On Mr Brown bidding of the Spirits for Exportation when the Collector told him distinctly in the room and in the hearing of his Clerk and all persons that he should under such circumstances have one month allowed for the payment on his intended purchase and its consequent delivery. Mr Brown never came near the Custom House or any Agent for him and it certainly does not strike us as incumbent on the Collector to enter into any correspondence with a person living at Wareham in Dorsetshire, 60 miles distant from the Isle of Wight in a matter of business that Mr Brown has no right to claim accommodation in.


27 May 1816                 In pursuance of your Order of 27 March, we transmit inclosed an Affidavit sworn before the Commissioners in the Court of the Exchequer by Richard Jeatt Sitter of the Preventive Boat No. 38 stationed at Saint Helens detailing the circumstances of a Seizure made by him off the West Buoy of 65 small Casks of Foreign Spirits from James Steward, Nicholas Moorman and William Jolliffe which persons have been rejected by Captain Alexander of His Majesty’s Ship Vengeur as unfit to serve in the Navy and were on Saturday 25th committed by John Delgarno Esq., a County Magistrate to Gaol in Winchester not being able to procure Bail.


28 May 1816                 Your Honors having been pleased to recommend Richard Chiverton late Coast Waiter at Ryde to be placed on the Superannuation List – we transmit inclosed the application of his Wife praying to be paid his salary from 5th April to 2nd May Inst. the date of your Honors Order for the above purpose, on which day his salary on the Establishment ceased and his allowance commenced.


31 May 1816                 In Obedience to your Order on the new arrangements for the Districts of Riding Officers, We are humbly of the Opinion that the incorporating of Portsmouth, Southampton, Poole, Weymouth and Cowes in one district for the Inspection of the Inspector is an excellent plan, as from the extent of the Coast the Inspector of the district now has to cover we think it hardly possible he can execute the Duty required of him with efficiency. We are further of the Opinion that Lymington or Christchurch is sufficiently central for the Residence of the Inspector. If the District is as now defined and if a Vacancy should happen, Mr William Robey, Riding Officer of the First Class on the Isle of Wight, who prior to the new System of Land Guard was a Surveyor of Riding Officers belonging to this Port (now 55 Years of Age) would be a proper Person to be promoted to the Role of Inspector. There are only two Riding Officers in the Isle of Wight on the new Land Guard Arrangement, Mr Robey as already mentioned and James Snudden, both of whom are efficient Officers.


3 June 1816       The Collector having this day received the Inclosed Anonymous letter from the Cowes Post Office with the Portsmouth Post Mark on it threatening his life, He feels incumbent on him to transmit it to your Honors and to entreat your Honors to give Directions thereon for bringing the malignant threat to Justice and to protect your Collector in the Execution of the Duties of his Office. From the Tenor of the Letter it would seem to be the vicious production of some Smuggler of whom the Law has already laid hold, which is respectfully submitted.


4 June 1816                   Our letters of the 27th & 31st May having detailed to your Honors our proceedings against James Stewart, Nicholas Moorman and William Joliffe Smuglers captured by Richard Jeatt Sitter of the St Helens Preventive Boat & delivered over to the civil powers. We humbly beg leave today to lay before your Honors a letter received by the Collector from Messrs. Clark, Scovell & Hearn Solicitors at Newport & who act as Magistrates Clerks stating the Nicholas Moorman and James Steward having given Bail as required by 49 Geo 3 Ch 62 were accordingly released from prison.


24 June 1816                 In Reference to Our Letter of 27 May appraising your Honors that James Steward, Nicholas Moorman and William Joliffe, three Smugglers captured by Mr Richard Jeatt, Sitter Preventive Boat No. 38 had been committed to Winchester Gaol by John Delgardo Esq, a Magistrate of the Isle of Wight. We have to report that William Joliffe, one of said Smugglers, after having been delivered to the Constable escaped from Custody. Suspecting as we do that this Man could not affected his Escape if the Constable had shewn Proper Vigilance in the Execution of his Duty. We submit if your Honors may not think fit to make some enquiry to be instituted against the Constable.


24 June 1816                 Mr Richard Jeatt having on 17th June seized a Lugsail Boat detected in the act of throwing overboard a number of small Casks of Spirits and captured on board six Smuglers, four of whom viz.

John Boss

Thomas Taylor

Edward Broyer

Mark Bayley having been delivered over and impressed into His Majesty’s Navy as duly appears by the Certificate of the Commanding Officer of the Queen Charlotte Man of War within transmitted. We have to request your Honors order for paying the usual Reward to said Sitter Jeatt amounting to £80.

The other two Smugglers Badcock and Branscombe having been rejected by Admiral Thornborough were taken before a Magistrate of the Isle of Wight and committed to Goal.


24 June 1816                 Public Notice being given for the dismantling and sale of the Barracks at Sandown, Coldwell and Grange on the Isle of Wight. We consider it our duty to submit to your Honors our opinion that if the Lords of the Treasury would permit the Artillery Barracks at Sandown and Coldwell to be retained for the occupancy of small detachments of Infantry, they might be made to usefully to cooperate with the views of Government in the suppression of Smuggling.


26 June 1816                 As directed by your Honors Order of the 30th Ult., we transmit a Certificate of Baptism for Mr Robert Lydall, nominated to be the Coastwaiter at Ryde vice Mr Richard Chiverton Superseded – by which it appears he is Forty two Years of Age. Mr Lydall is sufficiently active and capable of performing the Duty of the Office before mentioned – he has been an Officer in the Army & was never known to be concerned in or suspected of Smugling – or to have obstructed any Revenue Officer in the execution of his Duty. [He was baptised in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, and admitted 8 October 1816.]


4 July 1816                    Your Honors by your Order of the 28th Ult. have determined that the Oysters in question are subject to forfeiture and in pursuance of said Order they will be sold at auction tomorrow. We apprehend that had these Oysters been dredged by British Subjects on the Shores of France and not bought of Frenchman, they might have been admitted to an Entry for Robert Harvey being asked why he and the Crew did not dredge for these Oysters themselves – his reply was the French would not allow us to do so because they lay on their own coast, a very strong and sufficient reason why they might be admitted here. We submit it founded on wise principles for the support of a maritime interest and should at this juncture be particularly upheld as in default of it the Oyster trade will be furnished by the Industry of Frenchmen instead of the activity of our native fishermen.


5 July 1816                    The present limitation of Hours for Waterside Officers attendance as fixed by the Lords of the Treasury and communicated in your Order of the 16th March Viz. From 8 o’clock in the morning till 4 o’clock in the afternoon we humbly conceive are not calculated for accommodating merchants and the dispatch of business at Cowes, where the shipment and landing of Goods & the departure and arrival of Vessels Coastwise, often are required and take places before the hours of 8 o’clock in the morning & after 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The Merchants it is true may have relief – on special application under the Treasury Order of 16 February 1814 & 19 February of your Honors Order. But we submit if the old hours of attendance are once again reverted to and re-established Viz. From the Sun Rising to Setting between 10 September & 10 March & 6 o’clock to 6 between 10 March & 10 September – They would be found not only at Cowes but generally much more suitable for the accommodation of Trade & in the end approved by Waterside Officers. Most of whom now reluctantly give any attendance beyond prescribed hours. With respect to the Indoor Officers comprising ourselves & Clerks, we have not the smallest objection to agreeing to the petitioners desire Viz. that our attendance should be from 9 o’clock in the morning to 2 o’clock in the afternoon, instead of the present fixed hours.


8 July 1816                    In return to your Enquiry respecting vacancies in Preventive Boats. We report that we have not considered there is any vacancy of either of the three Preventive Boats stationed at this Port. One Boat, viz. Atherfield where there is a Watch House, Mr James Major, Sitter had a seventh Man added to it under your Order of 15 September 1815. Boat No. 38 at Bembridge, Mr Richard Jeatt, where there is also a Watch House remains on its original Establishment with six men only.  Boat No. 18 at Yarmouth, where there is no Watch House remains also on its original Establishment with six Boatmen. We are humbly of the opinion if a seventh Boatman was added to each Boat without a Watch House being built it would be for be for the benefit of the Service.


10 July 1816                  As directed by your Order of the 27th Ult. – we transmit we transmit an Affidavit – written upon a 2/6 stamped paper and Sworn before a Commissioner in the Court of the Exchequer – respecting the Seizure of eleven Casks of Spirits on the premises of Farmer Wheeler in the Parish of St Helens. From which it would appear the Officers are unable to prove the said Wheeler had any share in the concealment of said spirits.


11 July 1816                  Pursuant to your Order of 29th Ult. We have made enquiry of Mr James Brown, Collector at Lymington, and Captain Ferris of the Stork Cutter, of the health of James Butler, prior to the accident he met with in the Storks Boat, his present disability and if he has any pension and by their answers, which are inclosed, it appears the said Butler was is perfect health prior to the accident, that he was four years in the Revenue Employ and nearly three years in the King’s Service on board a Man of War and that he has no pension or annuity from the Crown whatever.

And further that his present disability arising from his being drowned and we understand that he has an almost constant spinning in his head and that he cannot walk without crutches and we recommend him to your Honors as an object of Income payment consideration.


11 July 1816                  Your Honors having been pleased to authorize by way of experiment for six months that the Coast Business of Customs at Newport, Ryde and Yarmouth be transacted by the Coast Waiters respectively. In obedience to your Order of the 9th January 1816 we have to impart that the number of Coasting Vessels which in that period have availed of the Indulgence is 1163 and that the good effect arising from it is very evident from the facility it affords to all persons engaged in daily trade to and from the Isle of Wight with the Ports of Portsmouth & Southampton, including Lymington as well as the more distant Ports without the least Injury to the Revenue and we humbly submit it as our opinion that for the Public good that it is expedient for your Honors to continue the Indulgence.


14 July 1816                  We transmit inclosed an Affidavit of the circumstances of an Assault and Attack on the person of Mr Richard Jeatt – the Sitter of the Preventive Boat at St. Helens by Nicholas Moorman, a notorious Smugler captured by said Jeatt – in a Smugling Transaction about three weeks ago. Moorman on the allegation of Mr Jeatt has been bound over by the Magistrates of the Isle of Wight to appear at the County Sessions which take placed at Winchester on Monday 22nd Current Month and if your Honors on proceeding against the said offender for the Assault we beg to observe – no time should be lost and that if any provincial solicitor is to be employed – the affair could not be confided to a more reputable or able men than Messrs. Clark, Scovell & Hearn, Solicitors at Newport on this Island.


20 July 1816                  On the 12th Inst. when some Military were landing with their Baggage from a Transport in Cowes Roadsted from Guernsey, the Tide Surveyor & his people seized on the Quay Six Bottles of Wine for being landed without payment of Duties.


12 August 1816             Lord Darlington bought at our Public Sale the 6th March 1815 the article described in Mr Jowlett’s Letter for which his Lordship paid £21 – 8. As no opportunity presents itself at this Port for Exporting the Silks direct – we have no objection to offer to them being removed to London for Exportation.


12 August 1816             Mr James Snudden whose nomination as Riding Officer at Shanklin was notified to us in your Letter of 30th April last being at this time without a Commission and his vacated Office of Coastwaiter at Newport being filled up by the admission of Mr Edward Leigh.

He humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to furnish him with the requisite Commission as a Riding Officer.


27 August 1816             Mr John Hyde Proprietor of the Watch House at West Cowes and who some time since tendered the premises to your Honors for £900 and afterwards £700 at rejected at both sums now offers your Honors the same at £600. The Crown has a repairing Lease in the said premises at £37 – 16 per annum and conceiving the present tender to be a fair one we humbly recommend its acceptance as there is no other Spot in Cowes so desirable for a Watch House as the one in question.


31 August 1816             In return to your Order of Enquiry requiring us to explain why the additional 2½ Chaldrons Coals thereby making the annual Quantity 10½ Chaldrons instead of 8. We report that actual and unavoidable expenditure for Coals at this Port for the last 18 years has not been less than 10 Chaldrons annually. 4½ Chaldrons are consumed at the Watch House by the Tidesurveyor and Boat Crew every year and when it is considered that a Fire is kept the whole night during winter to enable the Men who do Watch Duty such an Allowance cannot we submit be otherwise then Moderate.

The remaining 5½ Chaldrons are expended necessarily on the Custom House by the following fires:

One in the Collectors Office

One in the Comptrollers Office

One in the Long Room where the Clerks are making up the Quarterly accounts. The fire is kept alight till 9 o’clock at night.

One in the Land Surveyors and Land Waiters Office.

One in the Searchers area.

One in the necessary Dwelling Room who lives in the Custom House to take care of the premises

Where hours of attendance vary as in Public Office, it is impossible to make a specific quantity, we thought it best to continue the Practice of craving only 8 Chaldrons for the annual supply and making a second Application to your Honors for such additional Quantity as might be necessary and which we have done in the present instance by introducing the 2½ Chaldrons in our Incidental Disbursements and we humbly presume to hope will be approved of.


9 September 1816          Annexed is a copy of the Information laid by Richard Jeatt before John Delgarno Esq., a Magistrate of the Isle of Wight and on which that Gentleman granted proceedings against the Petitioners Stephen Badcock and George Branscombe – In addition thereto we report the both were present at the Magistrates Office when two seafaring People from Hastings attempted to prove the Parties passengers in the Boat and whose testimony was so vague in every essential particular (and both admitted that Badcock was owner of the Boat) to support the assertion they were passengers – that the Magistrate himself rejected the appeal.


9 September 1816          In reply to your Order of Enquiry on the proposition of appointing James Major, Sitter of Atherfield to the Cutter at Portsmouth, we impart that we have always heard Mr Major well spoken of for capacity and judgement in the management of a Cutter and if he were in command of a small Cruizer to execute the Harbour Duty at Portsmouth and to watch occasionally the motion of Smugglers at Spithead, the Ledge at Bembridge and Sandown Bay, we are of the opinion it would much annoy Contraband Traders which infect those parts.


9 September 1816          On reference to Lieut. Anderson’s Seizure note of the 22nd June last on the Capture of the Trafalgar open Boat, it appears the 6 men found on board of her were all delivered by him to the Commanding Officer of the Queen Charlotte Man of War at Portsmouth and further that they were duly impressed into H.M. Naval Service. We have no cognizance of them in any way whatever except from Lieut. Anderson’s report.


27 September 1816        Inclosed is an application from John Kingswell a Licensed Pilot under the Corporation of the Trinity House, London praying that the limits on the English Coast Viz. from Beachy Head to the Lizard given him in the annexed Licence issued by your Honors 20 Inst. and which he has not yet taken up may be extended from London to Scilly – it often occurring that Masters of Ships wish to engage Pilots to the Downs and which by the restrictions of the Lizard to Beachy Head would now be precluded from accepting. The Limits on the French Coast he considers perfectly liberal, an only desires similar extent on the English Coast.


28 September 1816        Since our letter of 24 June 1816, the Infantry Barracks at Sandown and Colwell & Grange have been pulled down and sold. Col. Mainwaring, the Commander of Troops in the Isle of Wight and with whom we are in regular communication in the cooperation of the Military with our Officers, is of the Opinion that if the Artillery Barracks at Sandown and Colwell were occupied by detachments of Infantry of 30 men each they might usefully be employed in the suppression of Smuggling in which Opinion we concur. We should however prefer having Dragoons in preference to Infantry as Riding Officers state that Infantry cannot walk sufficiently fast to keep up with their horses so as to be of service when they have a Smuggling transaction. We would therefore submit that Twenty Dragoons should be forthwith sent to the Isle of Wight to be stationed at such particular Ports and in such numbers as may be judges expedient by Col. Mainwairing and the Collector and Comptroller at Cowes.


8 October 1816              We are of the opinion that the Inspector has submitted to your Honors a very proper Recommendation being convinced that more Smugling has been carried out last winter at St Lawrence and Ventnor and adjoining spots than at any other part of the Isle of Wight and that the same illicit proceedings will soon arrive with the dark nights unless some check is put thereto. Leale is a very active Officer and we think if he were to be placed at Ventnor or St Lawrence for the winter months as a foot Officer on an allowance of 5/- per Diem in addition to his daily pay of 2/6 per Diem as a Boatman, no money could be better appropriated. 


14 October 1816            The Petitioners James Westmore of Portsea and James Hawkins of Niton, Isle of Wight, though stated on the Certificate of Registry to be of Wickham Street, Portsea, purchased a Vessel called Fox of Portsmouth on the 4th Ult. for the purpose of carrying out illicit Proceedings at Niton, St Lawrence and Ventnor on the South part of the Isle of Wight the coming winter – The Fox has a standing Bowsprit that is only steaved or elevated one inch in every foot from the straight line of the range of the deck. Instead of being steaved or elevated two inches – the heel of the Bowsprit also rests on a chock 8 inches thick and above the deck planks instead of the heel resting on the Deck Planks as required by the 7 Sec 34 Geo 3 Ch 50 for both which deviation from the Law requisites we have seized her.

The Fox came into Cowes Harbour Saturday evening 5 October about 9 o’clock and was proceeding up Newport River when brought to by the Custom House Boat. The party found on board were James Westmore & James Hawkins already mentioned and Martin Woolson & Spraggs, two of our most notorious Isle of Wight Smugglers and who for those last 12 months have carried in spite of the look out of our Officers a very successful contraband trade at Ventnor, St Lawrence and Niton.


18 October 1816            In the month of May last James Steward of Ryde in his own Wherry with Nicholas Moorman and William Joliffe notorious Smugglers went over to France and got a crop of contraband Goods and on their return Viz. Saturday night the 18th May 1816 about 12 o’clock p.m. they were met with off the west buoy of the Dean by Mr Jeatt Sitter of the St Helens Preventive Boat who seized the Wherry with sixty five small casks of Foreign Spirits and captured Steward, Moorman and Joliffe, all of whom are now under prosecution in the Exchequer for Penalties incurred by this Smuggling Transaction – and Moorman also in the Court of the Kings Bench for since beating Jeatt in revenge for the capture.

A good deal of Smuggling has been carried on at Ryde and connecting Country for the last three years and we see no chance of putting an end to it if the Law is not allowed to have its course against such offenders as Steward, Scott & Joliffe. [This followed a letter from Steward to the Board, on which the Collector was asked to Report.]


22 October 1816            Inclosed is an Application from Mr John Stephens, the Contractor for building the Watch House at Hurst praying that your Honors will be pleased to Order him the payment of £187 – 1 – 0 being the proportion of the contract to which he is now entitled by Agreement. We report that the Collector went to Hurst last Saturday and Inspected the work and that he found the Boat House built and Covered in and the Watch House ready to receive the plate and the work so done was very substantial and executed according to the Agreement. We submit a reference to your Honors Surveyor of Buildings for the terms of Payment. [There had been a number of anonymous complaints about the quality of the building.]


26 October 1816            The Petitioner, Nicholas Moorman is now under Prosecution in the Exchequer for clandestinely importing from France in a Wherry the 18th May last Sixty five small Casks of Foreign Spirits and was found guilty at the Sessions at Winchester in July last for ill treating and Beating Mr Richard Jeatt the Sitter of the Preventive Boat who captured him in said Wherry. Notwithstanding the Testimonial given him by certain inhabitants of Ryde, we have credible information this hardened offender has lately made 2 or 3 Smuggling trips to France and that he sets at defiance by his general profligate conduct all laws & Morality.


30 October 1816            Having this Morning received an Anonymous letter of nearly the same diction and tenor as the last one I submitted to your Honors on 3 June, I have to entreat that your will be pleased to take such steps for the Discovery of the Writer as may secure me from the hand of an Assassin in the Execution of my Office.

I reported lately on your Reference respecting the first Letter that as no repetition of Menace had taken place I wished the matter to subside but as the letter just received and to which I now enclose is of the same hand writing, I should I apprehend be doing great injustice to my Family and perhaps ensuring your Honors displeasure if I forbear to require that Measures should be taken to bring the writer to the bar of Conviction. The former papers were not long since with your Honors Solicitor and I would beg to suggest for his approval the draft of the inclosed advertisement to be inserted if necessary six months in the Portsmouth and also Salisbury paper.


4 November 1816           In Obedience to your Command signified in the Secretaries letter of 3rd Inst on the proposition of placing an Officer at Ventnor and St Lawrence. We report that our reason for recommending a Foot Officer to be at those places in preference to a Riding Officer is that the person would have to act in a peculiar line of country composed of Rocky Cliffs and stone enclosures where no horse could act but a clever active vigilant Officer may be in ambush and detect the illegal proceedings of the neighbourhood and which last Winter were carried on to a very considerable extent. Jacob Leale, a Commissioned Boatman and Tidewaiter and is employed in the Tidesurveyors Boat and his place during his Removal can be supplied by a Glut Boatman as was the case when Leale some time since Officiated at Ryde and where during his stay he made several seizures.


6 November 1816           William Rubie, Joseph Escom, Hugh Pill, Alexander Philips and William Wheeler having today and yesterday been admitted as Boatman in the Preventive Boats, stationed at Yarmouth, Atherfield and St Helens. Inclosed we transmit their Respective Bonds for due execution of their Duty with Sureties whom we see as sufficient and responsible.


11 November 1816         With much reluctance I trouble your Honors with the Inclosed Anonymous Letter received Saturday with Portsmouth Post Mark, but as it is a sequel of the others, I reckon on your Honors indulgence for bringing it to your attention. The writer states he has seen Bills stuck up offering a Reward of £100 for his discovery. That he has told me to look out, that he will keep a good look out for me and that I ought to have been shot 16 years back.

I am totally at a loss to fix my suspicion of the villainous writer of these letters but I have little doubt the venom they contain comes from the mind and hand of some fellow who has experienced the severity of the Law or whose design against the Revenue has been frustrated by my Attention to the Duties of my Office. The Letter and the cover it came in are of two different Water Marks but whether this circumstance is at all likely to lead to detection, I am unable to judge but I submit if your Honors may not think it is advisable to take the opinion of a Bow Street Officer on such an incident as I believe a few years back they looked at similar incidents.


11 November 1816         Mr Stephens the Contractor has been with is this morning as he requests us to assure your Honors that he has studiously from the commencement of the Building endeavoured to fulfil the conditions of his engagement by constructing the Watch and Boat Houses at Hurst. [This followed an anonymous letter to the Board containing a sample of Mortar used in the Building.]


13 November 1816         In return to your Order of enquiry on the Establishment of Officers at this Port. We have to state that the only augmentation to the number of Officers on our Establishment is the appointment of Richard Cass Warehousekeeper under the Bonding System.

And in reply to that part of your Honors letter – whether an Established Tidewaiter could not be employed as a Watchman and Messenger? We report that nine Tidewaiters, such being the number of our Established men, are insufficient at times for the business of the Port and that we conceive the detaching of either of them from the guardianship of and East India or American cargo now frequently brought to this Port in transient ships for Foreign markets to place him as a Watchman or Messenger at the Custom House in lieu of Mr Ayling, the Glutman who has been acting in that capacity for these 13 years under the Honorable Boards Special Order, would be decidedly a prejudice to the Service.


24 November 1816         As directed by your Order of yesterday, we transmit an Affidavit of the Commitment of Robert Hooper and Philip Hooper, two Seafaring Persons captured on board the Trafalgar open Boat to Gaol under the provisions of 45 Geo 3 Ch 121 and we have to report if this proceeding had taken place at Cowes rather than Southampton as it did we understand under the cognizance of the Collector of Excise, your Honors General Order respecting the Affidavit would have long since been attended to – the other men John Clarke, Robert Toyer, Robert Lakham, and Thomas Davis are still detained by Admiral Hamborough.


3 December 1816           In Obedience to your Order for placing a foot Preventive at Ventnor and St Lawrence. We report that we have the fullest reason to believe Smuggling will increase this Winter and be carried on to a great extent in that Quarter in the Isle of Wight and that it is our Motive for selecting for that situation. We believe him to be a sober, active Man though it was only Provisionally till a Boat could be there fixed and which we have recommended to your Honors in our Report of the State of Smuggling transmitted to the Board in February 1816 as the best approach to check Smuggling at Ventnor – Mill Bay – St Lawrence – Steephill (at all of which places there are little inlets and Bays). We submit our proposals for Leale going to Ventnor and St Lawrence for your further consideration.


3 December 1816           Petition of James Steward offering to pay £20 and costs for the Prosecution to be withdrawn.

This, man was taken in his own Wherry laden with 65 Casks of Spirits on the 18th May by Mr Robert Jeatt of the St Helens Preventive Boat. Your Honors by your Order of 12 Ult. rejected Steward’s offer of compromise penalty for £10 and we humbly submit the present proposal is entitled to a similar decision.


3 December 1816           Petition of Nicholas Moorman offering to pay £20 and costs for the Prosecution to be withdrawn.

This man was captured in James Stewards Wherry the 18th May last laden with 65 Casks of Spirits by Mr Robert Jeatt of the St Helens Preventive Boat. He was taken before a Magistrate and proceeded against under the Act 45 Geo. 3 Ch 121 and on his being liberated on Bail he beat violently Mr Robert Jeatt in the Town of Newport for having captured him & for which offence he was prosecuted at the Sessions at Winchester last July and found guilty – your Honors by your Order of 19 November last rejected Moorman’s offer of compromise for £10 and we conceive this is entitled to the same particularly as above £50 has been already incurred in his prosecution.


5 December 1816           Conforming with your Commands signified in the Secretarys letter of 3 Inst. regarding the Age and capacity of Mr Manner Commissioned Boatman of the Atherfield Preventive No.19. We report that Mr Manners Age is 59, 26 Years of which he was in the Falcon Cutter attached to the Port of Chichester and 6 Years in his present position – making altogether service of 32 Years in the Department of Customs. Never was in any other situation under Government – Said Manners health seems good – he is not withstanding a very inactive Officer.


8 December 1816           James Johnson, one of the Atherfield Preventive Boat, being palpably at this time in Custody of the Civil Power on a charge of Murder, I have deemed it my duty to procure copies of the deposition made yesterday before the Coroner and to transmit the same instantly for your Information and Directions. I inclose also the Sitter Major’s report of the transaction and an affidavit made before me by the Sitter Richard Jeatt which establishes the illicit proceedings of the Tartar and her crew. I can corroborate that part of his testimony which states the Tartar was gone to France as immediately thereon a communication was made with our Waterguard at Cowes enjoining them to look out accordingly for the return of the Tartar on Thursday Night.

The rescue of the Spirits and Boat coupled with the brutal beating of Johnson and Hannam the former of whom could not get out of bed for 2 days. I could much wish for Lord Ellenborough’s warrant by return of post for the taking up Edward Matthews, James Attrill and William Cash all of whom there is no doubt were parties connected Boat and Spirits and Mal-treating your Honors Boatmen – Pending Instructions I may receive and which for the sake of Justice towards Johnson may be by return of post as he appears to me to have acted firmly and for the good of the Service. I have seized the Cutter Tartar and her boat and have them moored before the Custom House. Hoping your Honors will justify me in the Prosecution.


11 December 1816         In reference to your confidential letter of the 9 Inst. on the rescuing of a Boat and 100 Casks foreign Spirits made the 5 Inst. by James Johnson and James Hannam two of the Boatmen belonging to the Atherfield Preventive Boat – I have to report to your Honors that an investigation of all the circumstances attending to this Transaction took place yesterday at Newport before John Delgarno Esq. a Magistrate on the Isle of Wight who thought proper on the depositions of James Hannam and Richard Jeatt to issue warrants for the apprehension of Edward Matthews the surviving part Owner & Master of the Tartar Cutter, James Attrill and William Cash persons composing her crew – for rescuing said Seizure and violently obstructing, hindering &c. James Johnson and James Hannam in the execution of their Duty contrary to 9 Geo 3 Ch. 35 and 45 Geo 3 Ch. 121.

I acquainted your Honors in my letter of the 8th that I had directed Johnson to surrender himself to the Civil Powers – but recollecting soon after that the verdict of the Inquest was against a person unknown – I kept Johnson at the Custom House till Yesterday when I ordered him to return to his Station, all of which I trust your Honors will approve.

As the persons above named were aided by 16 or 17 unknown persons and who are probably Inhabitants of Niton – a village about a Mile distant from St Catherines Point – where the Seizure was made and afterwards rescued – I submit for your Honors consideration whether it may be advisable to circulate notices with a reward for discovering the Offenders.

I think it more than probable the 100 Casks of Spirits are at this moment lodged in a secret cellar in St Catherines Cliff near Niton – the discovery of which will only be obtained by Information.


16 December 1816         I have to acknowledge your private command of 14 Inst. on the Assault and Rescue of the Seizure made by two of the Atherfield Preventive Boatmen – and have now to inform your Honors that this case was investigated by Sir Leonard Worsley Holmes, Bart. and a full Bench of Magistrates at the Town Hall in Newport on Saturday last the 14 Inst. when after a patient hearing of nearly 3 hours they adjudged that Edward Matthews should be discharged and that James Attrill and William Cash should under their Warrants be committed to Winchester Goal to take their trial at the next Assizes for the Assault and Rescue.

Finding that the accused had engaged a Professional Gentleman to conduct their defence – I employed William Hearn Esq., a Solicitor of eminence living at Newport to carry on proceedings on the part of the Crown – which I hope your Honors will approve.

I sent early this morning to Newport for a copy of the Warrant of Committal but Mr Hearn being from his home it will not be in my power to transmit it till tomorrow.

It is highly desirable to have the advertisement for the discovery of the remainder of the gang sent down as early as possible.


Extract from the Hampshire Telegraph of 23 December 1816 – not from Letters Book


Whereas it has been represented to the Commissioners the Customs that JAMES JOHNSON and JAMES HANNAM, Officers of the Customs at Atherfield, in the Isle of Wight, were, on the night of the 5th inst. violently assaulted and obstructed, at St. Catherine’s Point, in the Isle of Wight, by EDWARD MATTHEWS, JAMES ATTRILL, WILLIAM CASH, and several other persons unknown, who rescued from the said Officers, a boat called the Tartar, and some spirits which they had seized.

The said Commissioners, in order to bring to Justice the said unknown Offenders, are hereby pleased to offer a Reward of TWO HUNDRED POUNDS to any Person or Persons who shall discover, or cause to be discovered, any one or more of the said unknown Offenders, to be paid by the Collector of Customs at Cowes upon Conviction of the person or persons so discovered.

By Order of the Commissioners

G.DELAVAUD, Secretary.


24 December 1816         I have to report to your Honors the death of Mr William Arnold, Sitter of the Preventive Boat No. 18 stationed at Yarmouth within this Port which took place this morning.


31 December 1816         As directed by your Order of 27 Inst. touching the boarding of one Tidewaiter on Vessels coming from Ireland.

We report that is our opinion that after a strict and thorough Rummage of Vessels by the Tidesurveyor on their first arrival from Ireland – it does not appear to be necessary to board any Tidewaiter unless the cargo consists of foreign Goods or Irish Goods liable to Duty.

In cases, however, where the cargoes are wholly Provisions or Free Goods the Landing Surveyor always & necessarily requires one Tidewaiter to be boarded for the discharge.

1815 - 1816


Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009