Collector to Board Letters Book 1817 - 1818


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/30, words are shown in italics in case of doubt. Items in blue are additional or background information. I do not accept any responsibility for any inaccuracies


5 November 1817           Inclosed you will receive a Surgeons Bill for Medicine and Attendance given to William Stephens, Boatman Preventive Station 39 amounting to £2 – 14 – 0 which we humbly submit for payment.


5 November 1817           In return to your Order of the 30 Ult., we transmit a Certificate from Captain Miller Worsley, the Inspector of Preventive Boats in this District of the completion of 3 eight oared gallies at this Port and also of the Dimensions, Quality and fitness of materials of said Boats as per Bills delivered.


6 November 1817           The explanation to be offered in this case is that Mr Manner latterly discharged from Preventive Boat employ is 59 Years of Age 32 of which have been in the Service of Customs & that he has been without any pay from the 7 June last the period in which he was discharged, since which poor Manner has been set adrift. Mr Rubie, fellow Boatman only 53 Years of Age & serving 25 Years has been superannuated with an allowance of £35 per annum. Manners condition urgently requires your Honors humane interference – subjoined are copies of a late report we made on the subject which with this is respectfully submitted.


7 November 1817           In obedience to your Order of yesterday directing us to report the reason of Mr George Granger, Acting Coastwaiter at St. Helens within the limits of this Port not being inserted in the Michaelmas list of Officers who have Annual Allowances at this Port, we have to state that the said Granger was superannuated by your Honors Order 29 July last, copy of which is subjoined, is the reason why his name was not included.


10 November 1817         Last night at an early hour and in Thick Fog the French Brig L’Eugene, Gauman Master from Marseilles bound for Dunkirk with a cargo of Wines, Oil and Potash was stranded on Brook Ledge on the South part of the Island.

The Controller with the Superintendent of Quarantine Mr Francis and some Trusty Tidewaiters are repaired to the spot to ascertain in the first instance the state of the Crews health and to give such directions and instructions to our Officers and Military in attendance as may be necessary to prevent communication with the country people and for placing such who have had intercourse under proper restraint – Should the Quarantine answers not be received at Cowes in time for this days post – I shall not fail tomorrow to send them.


20 November 1817         We have to represent to your Honors notwithstanding the General Publicity we have given to your Honors Order of the 29 October last regarding the Pestilential Fevers that are now known to prevail in the Charleston Savannah and Ports south of the Delaware and forbidden by notices issued all communication by our Pilot Vessels and Boats with American and other Ships arriving on our coast from the United States.

That yesterday morning before Day Break the Mary Ann Pilot Vessel of this Port owned by William Webb in which Mr Wheeler & Mr Griffiths sail as Licensed Pilots boarded off the Needles the American Ship Atlanta Rose Master from Alexandria in Virginia laden with Tobacco bound for Bremen and after communicating with the crew on board brought the Master Rose to the American Consul’s office at East Cowes where he stayed for some time, and then conveyed him back on board again when the Atlanta sailed immediately for Bremen.

We cannot in any way ascertain the state of health of the Atlanta’s crew, but whether contagious or good we humbly submit that if such practices and such communication are permitted to obtain with Ships from Foreign Ports by Pilot Vessels – there can be no Barrier to the introduction of the Yellow Fever or Plague in this Country.

We respectfully entreat your Honors attention to our letter of 24 Sept. last on this subject and beg to suggest – As the only means of preventing this Country the dreadful effects of Pestilence – That a Law should pass compelling every Ship Foreign or British landing Passengers or Baggage in England or communicating in any way with Pilots or Persons on shore is to obtain Letters Succour on arrival to repair to a proper Port or Roadstead where there is a Customs establishment of Officers to the end that the Tidesurveyor or Superintendent of Quarantine may put the questions to the Master which have been so wisely devised and formed for the ascertainment of the Crews Health and the nature and susceptibility of the Ships Cargo – such a restriction cannot be regarded severe or unjust by Foreigners navigating the British Channel as it will only operate on those to benefit by a communication with England – and who mean to land Passengers on its shores. We are also confident in our belief that such a measure would more effectively check the Smuggling of Day Goods, Teas &c. from large Ships British as well as Foreign plying up and down the English Channel more than any legislative Act now in force.


22 November 1817         Pursuant to your Honors Order 7 Aug. on the Health of James Butler, late a Mariner on board the Stork Cutter. We transmit a Medical Certificate of his Health and also a report from the Collector of Lymington of the man’s present infirmity and improbability of ever being useful in any situation again.


26 November 1817         The Petitioner William Rubie was placed on the Superannuation List as a retired Boatman from Preventive Service as per your Honors Order 18 July last at an allowance of £35 per Annum. We paying William Rubie at this Office, he now being resident at Rye, 150 Miles distant from the Isle of Wight, would be a great inconvenience to the poor man. We therefore respectfully submit that an order may be granted for the paying of his Superannuation at the Custom House at Rye.


3 December 1817           We transmit another Certificate as required by your minute of 28 Nov. Mr Nike is a very respectable Surgeon at Lymington and to his diagnosis of Butlers miserable state we can assure your Honors from the concurring statements on this Man’s case there is not slightest probability of his ever being returned to Health or even intellectual reason.


3 December 1817           Pursuant to your Honors Order of 15 Ult. on the Superannuation of Mr Manner who was superseded in the Preventive Boat Service 7 June last to be placed on the Superannuation List as particularly reported to your Honors. We submit Answers to the Printed Questions & also a Certificate of his Baptism by which it would appear he is now 60 years and 5 months of Age. The Printed Form being for under sixty – the Answers to the 5th & 6th Questions are applicable according to the Questions on Form for above sixty.


9 December 1817           Mr Thorold the Landing Surveyor having been served with the Notice of Action Inclosed by a Clerk of Mr Thomas Day, Ship Agent at this Port. His having seized the Gallias Amelia put into Cowes “under alledged Circumstances of Damage” and which vessel was returned by your Honors Order 7 November. He humbly prays the Honorable Board to defend him in said Suit in case it is proceeded in and which we respectfully recommend.


11 December 1817         The Ship Grace of London apparently about 200 Tons per Register Davey calling himself Master bound to St Thomas in the West Indies with Volunteer British Officers but in reality for South America – put into this port by contrary winds the 21 Ult.

Information having been given us that Davey the Master received on board the Grace last week Major Lockyer, Captain Murray and several other Officers to convey them to St Thomas – beside those mentioned in the within Alien Clearance Certificate dated 30 October last – without the cognizance of Customs – the Collector proceeded on board the Grace about an hour since & seized said Ship, Tackle, Apparel & Furniture for the following causes.

First.                 Because the ship had neither a British Registry on Board nor any Passenger Muster Roll or Clearance Papers whatever except the Alien Certificate inclosed.

Second.            In receiving Passengers on board at Cowes without cognizance & authority contrary to the several Enactments 43 Geo 3 Ch 56.

And we pray your Honors Order for prosecuting the said Ship Grace to Condemnation. Davy the Master says the Grace belongs to a Mr Fitzgerald of London, a name familiar to us in a late examination before the Lord Mayor on a transaction apparently similar to the present one that happened at Liverpool in conveying Officers to South America.

On the Collector fixing the Broad Arrow on the Mast, expressions of approbation were uttered by almost all the Volunteer Officers on board, who exclaimed at the time that they had no doubt that the Master and Parties were combined to trick them out of their passages.


12 December 1817         In reference to our report of yesterday on the seizure of the Ship Grace of London bound for St Thomas with Volunteer Officers.

We have respectfully to state that on creditable information given this morning – the following persons are known to have been received on board the Grace in a clandestined manner by Captain Davey to be conveyed to St Thomas in the West Indies, in addition to the sixty cleared in London and Major Lockyer and Captain Murray mentioned in our letter yesterday – Messrs Strong, Holden, Reutler, Ravenscroff, Mr Brennan, & his Wife, Mr Seymour, Wife & two servants a Polish Officer & a Midshipman.

It being apparent that great delusion has been acted on by the parties concerned in the Grace towards the unfortunate Officers embarked – we earnestly hope your Honors will prosecute the case with the severity it deserves.


17 December 1817         The repairs to the Roof and Tyling for this Custom House have been done as estimated in a proper and workmanlike manner pursuant to your Honors Order of July 1817 and we accordingly submit that an Order may be issued for paying the contractor Mr Joseph Andrews Forty Eight Pounds.


17 December 1817         Lieutenant Anderson Commander of the Harpy Cutter under Admiralty Control, but paid for by the Excise Department acquaints us the Board of Excise refuse to certify the written list of Cutter Crew as required by His Majesty’s Order in Council 14 October 1817.

The reason given by the Collector of Excise at Southampton, who pays the Officer and Crew the Salaries and Wages – is that the Harpy is compelled to deliver her Seizures to the Custom House in conformity to the 1st Enactment 57 Geo 3 Ch 87, its Board do not conceive they are required to certify the List in Question.

As we shall be totally at a loss how to proceed in the payment of a Seizure of 215 Casks of Spirits Condemned in this last Term when it is received from the Exchequer, and pray your Honors early directions thereon begging to refer your Honors to the two last paragraphs of His Majesty’s Order in Council 14 October 1817 on the case in question.


18 December 1817         In obedience to your Order of the 13th Inst. on the Seizure of the Ship called the Grace of London – We report that we have called on Davy the Master to give Bail on the Penalty of £50 for each Passenger he took on board here for St Thomas’s in addition to the sixty he acknowledged having shipped and cleared in London – And that the said Davy continues to take no notice of our Demand. – We humbly submit for your Honors further decision whether Davy, the Master, and Fitzgerald, the reputed owner of the Grace, are not both liable to penalty of £50 for each Passenger taken on board in London, as well as in Cowes by reason of the Master not producing to the Collector when he boarded the Grace the 11th Inst. and demanded a perfect Copy of the Ship’s Muster Roll (agreeable to Form inclosed) describing the Age, Name & Sex of the several Passengers &c. as required by the 4 Sec 43 Geo 3 Ch 56 and other provisions of the said statute.

As Davy still withholds the production of the Grace’s Certificate of Registry from our Inspection, we submit he has also incurred and Additional Penalty of £100 by 34 Sec 26 Geo 3 Ch 60 and we pray your Honors will be pleased for such proceedings to be had accordingly.

On the Grace’s passage from London to Cowes we are informed that on nearing a Quarantine Cutter in the River all the Passengers on Board were ordered below by the brother of Fitzgerald, the reputed Owner, in order that the Ship might not be subject to visitation by the Commander of the Cutter from seeing many Passengers on Deck. Some of the Officers who have abandoned the intended Expedition in consequence of the Prince Regent’s Proclamation have applied to disembark with their baggage which we have permitted under 5 Sec 43 Geo 3 Ch 56. Of the Original Causes of Seizure & Detection, we beg to refer you to our letters of the 11 & 12 Inst.

[18 December 1817        Extract from Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post (not in Letters Book)

Thursday the ship Grace of London, Davey, master, with 80 officers on board bound to St Thomas’s on the South American Expedition, was seized in Cowes roadstead, by John Ward, Esq., Collector of Customs at that Port for having received on board many of said officers in a clandestine manner, contrary to the Passengers’ Act: and also for having no papers on board to prove the ship’s identity and character. On the day preceding the seizure of the above vessel, Mr Sutton, a volunteer officer for South America, was shot in a duel, at West Cowes, by Major Lockyer, a British officer, about to depart on the same enterprise.]


18 December 1817         The late Tempestuous Gales having driven into Port several Transient Ships and Vessels, it has been necessary for the Security of the Revenue to employ some additional Glutmen to watch & prevent any Clandestine unshipment of Goods.

Inclosed are the Bonds of William Flux and Thomas Mikendon whom we have made Glutmen on this occasion which we trust your Honors will approve. [A. Corke was added on 22nd December.]


7 January 1818              In obedience to your Honors minute 5 Inst. on a complaint the Sitter and Crew of the Preventive Boat at Yarmouth. We report that on receiving your Honors decision of 24 Dec. Ult. that the Collector and Comptroller were the proper persons to enquire into the complaints against the Sitter and Preventive Boatmen (the Inspecting Commander giving his attendance at the same time), we immediately sent Notice to Mr Day by letter (copy of which is subjoined) that we were ready to receive his complaint against Mr Bourne and his Boat Crew, appraising Captain Worsley that we had so done, and that we should require his presence at the Investigation, but as yet we have received no answer from Mr Day except a verbal one that when the hurry of his present business was over he should prefer his complaint.


12 January 1818            In obedience to your Honors Order of 5 Inst., we transmit inclosed a statement of illicit practices known to be carried on in this District with some suggestions to preventing the same.








Mill Bay


St Lawrence


St Catherine’s

Chale Bay




Compton Bay

Freshwater Gate

at the back of the Isle of Wight.


St Helens




Wootton Creek

Kings Quay

Gurnard Bay



Allum Bay

within the Isle of Wight.

Spirits, Silk &


The Spirits – in small Casks taken on board English and French craft and open Wherrys or Boats at Cherbourg, Fecamp, St Valery, Dieppe Ports in France and carrying them to one or some of the places mentioned in the left column where if a favourable opportunity does not offer itself for immediately receiving the Spirits they are sunk by means of warp & anchor until a better occasion presents for the Clandestined recovery.

The Silks and Lace in small packages sometimes wrapped round the persons of those who come over in English & French Vessels pretending to be a Passenger but in reality are proficient Smugglers and go to France for the purpose only of purchasing the article. 

The Smugling of Spirits, Silks and Lace at the places in the first column we have reason to believe is similar comparatively with the years 1816 & 1815. We now, however, have cause to believe from the Reports of our Land & Waterguard – and the several Seizures recently made by them that Smugling is increased since October last. Our recommendation of a permanent Riding Officer at Shanklin which your Honors attended to the 9 February 1817 by appointing Mr Jas. Snudden to that spot has, we are glad to say, been fully justified by Snudden’s making several Seizures since his appointment. Niton & St Catherine’s Point – being places of great Smugling repute, there being no Officer there to watch the attentions of the Smuglers except Mr Dixon, an old Riding Officer on the reduced list comprising an allowance for a horse, whose faculties at the age of 71 cannot be supposed to be equal to the fatigue of nightly watch & labour. We consider it our duty to reiterate our recommendation that a permanent Riding Officer be established at Niton. No Officer is stationed within 3 miles of that place or St Catherine’s. The Preventive Waterguard we conceive require augmentation as follows. St Lawrence – one Boatman, Atherfield – 3 Do., Freshwater – 1 Do., in order that each station may have one of the men ashore to be constantly left at the Watch House while 5 are on duty on the Boat.


24 January 1818            In obedience to your Order of 22 Inst. respecting Assessment Books kept at this Port. We respectfully report that it has not been the practice here to keep Assessment Books, the Officers being few comparatively with large Ports and the residence of all of them being at Cowes. It is very rare that we have had any complaint of any Officer not being on the day to execute his duty. Our rule when expediting Reports is that when there is a Petition is sent in by a Merchant or other Person for the restoration of Goods Seized by an Officer or Tidewaiter or any complaint being preferred against them, to direct the Petition be entered in the Register or Petition Book and then by minute on the Petition – to refer it to the Officer for their immediate Report which when made is copied also at the front of the Petition entered in the Petition Book and thereon without delay communicated in a letter to your Honors, which letter is recorded in the book and numbered progressively, always observing the utmost dispatch in forwarding reports and to answer any Enquiry by return of post if possible.


30 January 1818            This morning early a large ship named the General Hamilton of New York from Havre laden with Bale Goods and Plaster of Paris and with Passengers on board destined for New York struck the shore at Warden Buoy within the Wight.

The Officers and Crew of the Preventive Boats at Yarmouth and Hurst are now on board the General Hamilton to supervise the discharge of such parts of the cargo as may be deemed necessary to be taken out to lighten the ship should the present Tide not float her off and have enjoined them to the utmost vigilance and attention in the fulfilment of their special Duty.


2 February 1818             In Obedience to your Order of the 27 Ult. on Thomas Chessells application for Salary and Seizure Money due to David Chessell deceased, Boatman in the Preventive Boat at St Lawrence, we transmit inclosed Certificate showing that said Thomas Chessell is the nearest relative of the deceased.

Parish of Northwood, Isle of Wight 30 January 1818.

We the undersigned do hereby declare and Certify that the bearer hereof is Thomas Chessell a Parishioner in the abovementioned Parish who is the nearest relation of the late Davis Chessell, who died in Wales, where he was employed in the Customs Preventive Boat Service.

Thomas Dutton, Minister

David Davis, Church Warden

Thomas Coombes, Church Warden

Reference of a petition from Thomas Chessell next of kin to the late David Chessell for wages due to him whilst in the Preventive Boat Service at Swansea.


4 February 1818 Mr James Snudden, Riding Officer and Mr Benjamin Dixon, Chief Officer of the Preventive Boat at St Lawrence having on the 4 Ult. captured James Biles and Andrew Reid, 2 Smugglers on board a Wherry laden with 28 small casks of Prohibited Spirits and the said persons having been conveyed before a magistrate and afterwards conveyed aboard a Man of War and Impressed into Naval Service as will appear by Certificate Inclosed. The Officers humbly pray your Honors will be pleased to send them the payment for the Reward of £40.


3 March 1818                Inclosed we transmit an application from Messrs Moses and Blake, Contractors for the building of the Watch and Boat House at Orchard Bay for the use of the St Lawrence Preventive Boat, praying as the building is now complete an order may be made for paying them the stipulated sum of £318 and it appears from the inspection we have made of the said building that the whole is done in a craftsmanlike manner agreeable to the specification and that the same is now fit for the occupation of the Officer and his Crew.


23 March 1818               James Butler, the unfortunate man in the Stork Boat, January 1816 being still in a disabled and idiotic state and not likely ever to recover his strength, he humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to extend your Bounty to him by allowing him 1/6 per Diem from the last time of payment 15 December 1817 under your Order of the 9 of that month.


7 April 1818                   As directed by your Order 30 March 1818, Mr Stephens the contractor for building the Watch and Boat House at Freshwater Gate has perused the plans and approved the within draft of contract for erecting said Building and the same is now accordingly returned.

With respect to the other draft for Orchard Bay, that building was commenced in October pursuant to Treasury Order of 19 Sept. and your Honors Order thereon of 20, finished in February and the Order for paying the Tradesmen for their Contract sum of £318 granted by your Honors Order of 10 Ult.


8 April 1818                   Inclosed is an application from Mr Richard Jeatt, Sitter of the Bembridge Preventive Boat praying to be allowed the Reward of £20 for capturing Richard Saunders a Smuggler in the month of July 1817 and who being convicted by the Magistrates at Newport remains now in Winchester Goal being unable to pay the Penalty imposed on him. Richard Saunders on account of the Poverty Law has been receiving a Paupers Goal Allowance for some Months under your Honors Order.


14 April 1818                 Agreeable to your Honors Order of 4 May 1815 inclosed, we transmit an application from Mr Ed. Dixon, Riding Officer at Niton, in this Port on the old system, praying that he may be allowed Fifteen Pounds for the Keep of a Horse in the half year ended 5 Instant.

The Officer of Inspector of Riding Officers having ceased in the Isle of Wight, inclosed is our own Certificate of the capacity & fitness of Mr Dixon’s horse.


18 April 1818                 The interior of the Battery at Sconce Point belonging to the Ordinance Department having been fitted up with Bed Cabins for the Accommodation of the Yarmouth Preventive Boat Crew pursuant to Treasury Order and your Honors Order and Sundry Materials also having been supplied for use of the said Crew. Inclosed we transmit the workmens Bill for completing and supplying the same amounting to £33 – 6 – 2 which being certified by the Chief Officer, Mr Bourne, the amount is respectfully submitted for payment. [The bill for building the Boat House, £87 – 5 – 0 was also submitted.]


29 April 1818                 Herewith you will receive Surveying Officers Certificates made out conformable to your Honors Order 25th February 1817 to obtain Licences for Vessels & Boats particularized at the foot hereof.

Neither of the owners of which to our knowledge has been confirmed in Smuggling.

Smack “Isis” of Cowes – Wm. Baring, owner – Value £1100

Smack “Apollo” of Cowes – George Ratsey & others, owners – Value £1200

Open wherry of Cowes – John Warder, owner – Value £16

Open boat of Cowes – John Young, owner – Value £20


29 April 1818                 We transmit an application from T Hoffmeister praying restoration of a Wherry which appears to be of the value of £10 & various articles of Grocery, Boots & Shoes valued at £8 – 10 – 0 & which were seized thereon alongside of the American Ship “Fisher Amos” in Cowes Roads 24 Inst. by Geo Woodrow, a Tidewaiter, whose statement is recorded the other side. All the articles except the Segars appear to have been carried in a legal way for sale to supply shipping – the Boots & Shoes with the King’s Mark are satisfactorily accounted for by the inclosed cert. of the Sergeant Major of 51 Light Infantry – The Segars taken from the Parties is clearly a Smuggling Transaction – they are acknowledged to have been taken out of the Ship in exchange for Goods.


25 May 1818                 A Petition from N Moorman, Winchester Goal praying his Release.

The Petitioner was committed to Winchester Goal 25 May 1817 by a Magistrate of the Isle of Wight for having been found in a Wherry laden with 65 small Casks Foreign Spirits and not being able to pay the consequent Penalty or fund Bail. He is quite a Pauper without the smallest hope of ever raising a shilling towards the Penalty. His Wife and Children have been receiving from the House of Industry, Isle of Wight a Weekly allowance for their sustenance since his confinement and he will have suffered 12 Months Confinement on the 4th June next. His Release under such Circumstances is Respectfully Submitted.


25 May 1818                 A Petition from George Dyer, Winchester Goal praying his Release.

The Petitioner was committed to Winchester Goal on a Writ of Capias from your Honors Solicitor He a poor man without the smallest hope of ever raising a shilling towards the Penalty and having been in Confinement his Release under such Circumstances is Respectfully Submitted.


26 May 1818                 As requested by your Order on the health of James Butler, we acquaint your Honors from the information we have received that the poor fellow is in a wretched State of Idiotism caused by the effect of sea water penetrating into his head when upset in the Storks Boat off Worthing and that there is not the smallest chance of his Recovery. Since receiving the enclosed Medical Certificate Butlers Wife has been at this Office and she reports that her husbands state is most deplorable and helpless and that he has not been out of the habitation they occupy for these 12 Months being void of Intellect and Understanding. 


28 May 1818                 The eight boxes Segars mentioned by Mr Heather weighing about 20 lbs were received into the Tobacco Warehouse at this Port from the Customs at Portsmouth in the month April last to abide your Honors pleasure for charging the Duties thereon. The Segars being presents we have no objection to offer to the Duties being received.


18 June 1818                 Last Evening the English Brig Gainsborough of Hayle, Mr Aysthorpe, Master, laden with Tobacco from Gibraltar destined for a foreign Market came to anchor in Cowes Roadstead to obtain orders.

The Vessel having a clean Bill of Health and the Crew at the particular time being all well – The Superintendent of Quarantine pursuant to the 7 Sect of the Order in Council 5 April 1805 touching Ships coming into Port for orders has placed the said Brig and Crew under Restraint which will be duly enforced till your Honors directions are received for her release.

Inclosed are the Masters Answers on Oath to the Preliminary and Quarantine Questions and also the Bill of Health dated Gibraltar 7 & 9 may last.


24 June 1818                 The Window to the Land Surveyor, Land Waiter and Searchers Office at this Port being in a very dilapidated & decayed state they having it is presumed been fixed to the building when the Custom House was originally built 100 years ago & it being absolutely necessary the same should be replaced with new, we have accordingly obtained an Estimate from respectable Tradesmen for providing the same at £14 – 10 – 0 which we humbly submit may be accepted and the work ordered forthwith to be done.


29 June 1818                 Mr Smith having acted as Collector during the Collectors absence on Special Service at the Islands of Guernsey and Jersey from the 21 April exclusive to 24 May inclusive and carried out the duty with integrity and attention, we humbly submit that the allowance craved by Mr Smith viz. £25 – 7 – 8 being the difference between his own Salary and that of the Collector may be granted to him. The object the Collector was sent on being Special and Important.


6 July 1818                    Inclosed is an application from Mr John Stephens praying that an Order may be given for the payment of £330 – 17 – 0, he having built & completed the Watch House & Boathouse at Freshwater Gate according to contract.

And having visited the said building and certified the work to be duly executed, the payment of his request is respectfully submitted.


20 July 1818                  On an application from Mr Baring praying to have 1 dozen shoes returned being part of Mrs Baring’s Baggage from France.

On the face hereof in the Examining Officers Report on the Shoes found in Mrs Barings & Mrs Hamersleys Baggage on their arrival from Havre de Grace in the Iris yacht for the landing of which a proper Baggage Warrant was granted at this Office we are fully of the opinion 1 Dozen pairs of Shoes to a Lady of Mrs Barings or Mrs Hamersleys standing in Society is a very Moderate Quantity, but as the Treasury Order 2January 1817 & your Honors Order thereon that the Articles to be passed must have been used & worn we did not think ourselves justified in giving up the Dozen Shoes detained without you Honors Special Order.


17 August 1818             Your Order for Superannuating poor Butler came down 12 Instant dated the day preceding & will be consequently due to him according to the rate allowed him by your Honors these last two years past £11 – 2 – 0 which we humbly submit may be granted – as he is an object of great charity.


18 August 1818             As directed by your Order of 15 Ult. respecting the Bonding of Timber under 43 Geo 3 Ch 132, we report that we have one Yard and one Pond approved for the Bonding of Timber and both are are situated within a distance of 300 yards of the Custom House.


18 August 1818             Mr James Day, Ship Agent at this Port, who by Bond bearing the date 10 April last conditioned to pay £41 – 3 – 0 the amount of the Gratuity awarded by the Magistrates of the Isle of Wight under 12 Sec Ann Ch 18 to certain Officers of this Department for their several services in assisting at the salvage of the French Brig L’Eugene and her cargo stranded at Brook Ledge in November 1817, having refused to pay the amount though repeatedly called on by Letter and personal application so to do – we feel it our duty to transmit your Honors a copy of the Magistrates Adjudication and said Mr Day’s Bond respectfully requesting on the fact of the Officers claiming £41 – 3 – 0 that you will please issue directions to the Solicitor for enforcing payment of the amount adjudged.

Mr Days ground of objection is that no Notice has been taken of the Charges he preferred in February last against Mr Bourne of the Yarmouth Preventive Boat and Boats Crew for misconduct at said wreck & who had equal responsibility with our own Officers. We are humbly of the opinion they will be considered too futile to prevail.


21 August 1818             We beg to recommend the adoption of the Coastwaiters suggestion viz. that a Room situated near the Pier and Landing Stage my be hired annually to enable him to execute the Duty of Granting Documents as directed by your Honors and to keep his books in. The Blue House is a very old fabric having been built we believe for 40 years and is now in so decayed a state as to afford no security to Papers or Books from the Weather added to which the Ryde Pier Company object to the House standing on their Premises. Ryde is now become very populous and Trade daily increasing causing the Coastwaiters presence is almost always necessary and if he has such a proper and convenient Office for such Duty it can not be performed with that accuracy that it should be. The rent proposed is £4 per annum which we consider moderate.


27 August 1818             James Ralph for whom we applied to your Honors for a Licence for his open Boat in our letter dated 17 June last which was later suspended on account of a Penalty of £12 being outstanding.

Having this day paid the Money – one Moiety of which goes to the Seizing Officer, the other to the poor of the Parish – the prosecution being under 9 Geo 2 Ch 65 Sect 21.

We respectfully beg to recommend that said Ralph may have his Licence granted – credible information being given us that this man had it not in his power to pay the Money before and that he is now engaged in a lawful and reputable trade as a shopkeeper – the transaction for which he was fined took place so long back as 27 April 1805 since when we have no proof of his being concerned in Smugling.


1 September 1818          On the inclosed application of J N Fazakerly Esq. owner of the yacht Cygnet, 57 tons, navigated with 5 men. We respectfully report that the Spirits removed from the Cynet by the Landing Surveyor were duly reported by the Master at this Office on his arrival from Cherbourg last Saturday & the quantity being 2 G Rum & ½ G Brandy, the duties on which Customs & Excise amount to £1 – 12 – 7.

We humbly conceive the letter of the 4 Article of your Honors Instructions to Tidesurveyors, which says “But if the Ship be in ballast on her arrival she is to be considered as fit for clearing only and to have an allowance of Stores accordingly viz. No more than the duties thereon amount to 40/0 in Customs & Excise”

Mr Fazakerly has claim to the Sea Stock found on board, no attempt having been made to land any part, and the privilege asked for by this Gentleman (a Member of the British Legislature) being no more than any British Trading Vessel in similar circumstances as to Sea Stock enjoys on his arrival from a Foreign Port.

Mr Fazakerly’s yacht is Licensed & the Penalty of his Bond not to Smugle - £4800. 


3 September 1818          No building was erected on the Pier when Chiverton the Coastwaiter went mad in 1814. We were under the necessity of funding some Accommodation for the Acting Coastwaiter to attend to Duty and keep some Books in and having 3 Blue Houses one of which could be spared, we had conveyed to Ryde. It was placed near the Landing Place at the Pier that afforded the Coastwaiter the best opportunity of seeing and examining that which came on shore. The room now proposed is opposite the spot in question and the owner James Greenham is agreeable to let it to your Honors for £4 per annum which we consider a reasonable offer.


4 September 1818          We are convinced from the different applications which have been made by George Dyer for his release that he cannot find any Security besides his Father. The Father lives near Brixton on the South part of the Isle of Wight, is Tenant of a small Farm and we apprehend from general Reports has sufficient Effects to answer £100.


5 September 1818          Smugling having much increased on this Coast within the last six months owing as we verily believe to the great Relief Contraband Traders find in the regular Demand for Spirits among Tradesmen, Farmers, and others caused by the present Regulations of sending Seized Spirits to London for Redistribution instead of allowing them to be sold at the Outport (as was formerly to be the case) unless said Spirits will fetch 18/10 per Gallon the Amount of Duty. 

We have been induced to make a comparative statement of the mode in which the Seizure of 798 Gallons of Spirits made on 22 September 1817 was disposed of, and brought to account what (there is no doubt) would have been the Result and Proceeds had the same be allowed to be sold at Cowes to the highest bidder.

As the comparison is founded on correct data and it must be the most incontrovertible proof of the fallacious principle in which the present system for the disposal of Condemned Spirits & Rewards granted to officers Seizing them is upheld & demonstrates that the Crown in this instant suffered a loss of £1010 – 0 – 5, we presume to offer your Honors our decided and unequivocal opinion, drawn from the experience of 13 years, the error of the new Regulations for sending Spirits to London.

That the method of selling Condemned Spirits and Goods at each Port to the highest bidder and making up accounts with a Gratuity to the Officer for the trouble was far more advantageous to the Crown and more satisfactory to the seizing Officer than the present mode – and that we consider it is highly advisable to revert to the same.

The changes we would further suggest would be a total abstraction of the Customs Department in all matters relating to Seizures and Rewards from the Excise Department and all Seizures made by Officers holding Deputations from the Honorable Board should be delivered to Custom House and no where else – and vice versa, those made by the Excise to the Excise Office – For what can be more repugnant to a Man’s feeling assimilation our Office to Private Life, than for a Man to see Servant or Dependant under his immediate control go to a Stranger and deposit in Trust with him a valuable Charge which ought by the common Impulse of Obedience and sense of Duty be delivered to his Master – we ought to have no hesitation in apprising your Honors – that the Extraordinary Regulations alluded to were built on a false hypothesis if it was expected that the effect of them would be productive of a close alliance and intimacy between the Executive Branches of Customs & Excise, it being well known that they have established more jealousy between them than even existed before – besides perplexing our Accounts of Seizures and Charges of Management &c. &c. &c.

The Rewards to seizing officers we would propose in lieu of the existing and which could much simplify matters and offer equal Satisfaction to all parties are:

For the Seizure of Spirits without a Vessel, Boat, Horse or Carriage crept up, picked up afloat or on shore.

A Third share of proceeds after Sale deducting Charges

Do. with the importing Vessel or Boat, Horse or Carriage.

The Moiety, deductions as above.

For every man taken in the act of Smugling whether in Vessel, Boat or Carriage or on Horse Back or assisting thereon £50 on conviction.

With regard to the force to be kept up for the suppression of Smugling, we would recommend the continuance of the Preventive Boats and Riding Officers and where necessary at potential Ports a Cutter of 70 tons to be appointed by your Honors with Officers & Men totally detached from Admiralty control.


19 September 1818        As directed by your Order of 29 August last on an application of Mr Green respecting the weight of 3 Winchester Chaldrons of old Ducks or Eden Main Coals

We report that we availed of the first opportunity that presented itself last week for carrying your Honors Order into effect and on the back leaf we transmit the weights that were taken by a Sworn Meter at three different stages of delivery viz. First, on opening the Hatches – Second, when the Vessel was half delivered – Third, when there were about 30 Chaldrons remaining. The measure used was the proper Coal Bushel, height inches, Diameter at Top 19½ inches and at the Bottom 19½ inches.

1 Chaldron         26c 1q 8lb

2 Chaldron         24c 3q 24lb

3 Chaldron         25c 0q 18lb


23 September 1818        The Petitioner Mr Searl instead of following lawful pursuits is a notorious Smugler and sails regularly in the Alert Smuggling Vessel. He was captured by the Harpy Excise Cutter 8 July 1816 in the Alert laden with 78 Casks Spirits and fined £60 by the Magistrates at Southampton – and on the 25 October in the Good Intent of Portsmouth laden with 115 Casks Spirits and fine £55, despite his assertion that he is an innocent man. When the Resolution Cutter seized 42 Casks on the Beach at Southsea in the evening of the 27Ult., about 10 o’clock, Searl was intercepted coming from the spot the Casks were seized in a Boat no doubt belonging to the Alert (a small Vessel being seen at a distance) but marked John Day of Portsmouth – the Seizing Officer could not swear to any Casks being in said Boat – we suffered Searl to depart – but detained the Boat on suspicion of having been seen with said 42 Casks Spirits. John Day is supposed to be an assumed name, the Boat being bona fide Searl’s and attached to the Alert.


1818 - 1819

Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009