Collector to Board Letters Book 1817


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/29, 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


2 January 1817              The Collector having in Lady Day Quarter 1816 paid out of Incidents One Hundred and two pounds and three pence Rewards to the Military for assisting Revenue Officers, there being no Money in hand arising from the King’s share and with which he is now surcharged by the Inspector of Out Port Accounts,

And there also being Rewards and Tradesman’s Bills to pay as particularized on the back hereof and for which there is no fund arising from the sale of Condemned Goods, he humbly prays your Honors to grant him an Imprest that he may indemnify himself for the Rewards paid and to meet other demands amounting in total to £167 – 0 – 1.


4 January 1817              Benjamin Bascombe has been admitted a Glut Tidewaiter at this Port. Inclosed we transmit his Bond for due Execution of his Duty to be registered as the Law directs.


6 January 1817              In Obedience to your Command of 30 July last the appointment of Mr Robey, Riding Officer of the 1 Class to be Inspector of Riding Officers and Preventive Boats in the District of the Isle of Wight, we report that as the control of the Preventive Boats at this Port, three in number and two to be added is specifically delegated to Captain Hanchett. We are of the Opinion the continuing of Mr Robey as Inspector of Riding Officers solely in the Isle of Wight when there are only three and whose several patterns are within the circumscribable distance of thirty miles would be incurring to great an expense for any Public Benefit that could reasonably be expected to result from such very limited Duty. Mr Robey we have reason to believe has acquitted himself with propriety and becoming attention to your Honors Order since his Appointment July last in the probationary Office of Inspector of Riding Officers.


6 January 1817              Mr Leigh’s competence to enact the Duties of his office is nearly the same as it has been for many years. The extent of the Duty performed by him is some inconsiderable Coast Business at the Creeks of Yarmouth and Shalfleet for the execution of which at the latter place he is allowed Riding Charges under your Honors Order 27 February 1816 and we are not aware since May last any Inconvenience has arisen to the Service from Mr Leigh’s being continued at Yarmouth and execute the Duty at Shalfleet under such arrangements.


14 January 1817            Mr Richard Jeatt having on 3 October 1816 captured Henry Hellyer, Thomas Russell, and George Coleman Smugglers in the Hebe of Weymouth, enclosed we transmit the Commanding Officer’s Certificate on which Mr Jeatt humbly prays your Honors to cause payment of £60 to be made to him and his Boats Crew being the Reward of £20 per Smuggler.


16 January 1817            Jacob Leale a Tidewaiter of the Establishment at this Port having of 21 December 1816 in virtue of a Writ of Assistance having searched the house of Mr James Ceible, Shoemaker, at West Cowes, and found therein 2 Gallons and one pint of Foreign Geneva, 7/8 Gallon of Rum and 5/8 Gallon of Brandy prohibited Spirits which he seized and lodged with the proper Officer of Excise for prosecution pursuant to the 16 Enactment of 56 Geo 3 Ch 10.


22 January 1817            Pursuant to your Order of 29 Nov last we hereby transmit Schedule B filled up by the Officers described on the back hereof – who decline subscription to the Customs Annuity beneficial Fund. The Officers desirous of being subscribers are Mr John Roach, Coastwaiter, Cowes, Edward Leigh, Coastwaiter, Newport, and Mr Robert Lydall, Coastwaiter, Ryde.

J Ward

I Chapman

Wm. Smith

Rd. Stephens

T Francis

Tho. Thorold

James Alfold

John Waller

Henry Cox

Richard Cass

Wm, Robey

Ed. Dixon

James Snudden

Charles Leigh.


23 January 1817            On a reference from the Commissioners of Excise respecting the length of Service of Wm. Stevens.

A person named Wm. Stevens was employed as a Boatman in the St Helens Boat belonging to this Port and was admitted thereto 23 Aug. 1790, the crew of which was transferred to a small Cutter called the Nancy put under the command of Robert Willis, a Commissioned Boatman. Stevens was one of those so transferred and he was discharged therefrom 11 May 1798, since which period his name does not appear in our books.


23 January 1817            Captain Hatchett Controller General of the Preventive Water Guard having signified to us that the Lords of the Treasury have been pleased to appoint Benjamin Dixon to be Chief Officer of a new Preventive Boat stationed a Puckaster Cove and to direct that his pay to commence 21st Inst. We have to submit the expediency of Dixon being furnished with your Honors Deputation authorising him to make Seizures of contraband Goods.


24 January 1817            The applicant Mr James Snudden held the Office of Coastwaiter at Newport, a Creek in this Port, for many years, but in consequence of the increase of Smuggling on the Isle of Wight and on our suggestion that Snudden would be a proper person to fix at Shanklin as a Riding Officer of the Second Class on a new appointment, he was removed thereto under your Honors Order of 11 February 1815 and his Office of Coastwaiter at Newport filled by up by the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury by Mr Edward Leigh as his successor and who accordingly by virtue of your Honors Order of the 31 July was admitted to said Office 2 August 1816 receiving at the same time your Honors Commission and Authority for executing the Office. It results then that Mr Snudden can, in no other light be considered but as a permanent Riding Officer of the 2nd Class and that he is entitled to the just proportion of Salary and Allowance received yearly by Riding Officers of that class from 2 August 1816 when he was superseded in his Coastwaiter at Newport to 5 January 1817, the amount of which as per the statement subjoined is £32 – 13 – 10 and we having before recommended that he is in distressed circumstances from the Seizure Rewards not yet being paid that your Honors will communicate his case and direct an early payment of the above Sum to relieve him from his present embarrassment.

Salary due to James Snudden as Riding Officer of 2nd class including allowance for keep of a horse the rate of £105 per annum viz. from 2nd August to 10 October 70 days

£18 – 18 – 10

Do. for Xmas Quarter 1816 due 5 January 1817

£26 – 5 – 0


£45 – 3 – 10

Deduct allowance for keeping a horse &c. from 2 August 1816 to 10 October 1816 paid Snudden by your Honors Order 29 Nov. being at £33 – 11 – 6 for a Half Year


£12 – 10 – 0                     

Sum now due to Snudden

£32 – 13 – 10

We further beg to submit that Mr James Snudden may be granted a Commission as a Riding Officer of 2nd Class to enable him to execute the Duties of his Office, he holding at present an old Commission as Coastwaiter at Newport only.


25 January 1817            The ground of the appointment in question was necessity, the arrivals of Foreign Ships being now very frequent at this Port, and the number of Established Tidewaiters only Nine. We have at this instant in the Harbour and Roadstead Eighteen Foreign Ships with Cargos & two British bound to the Mediterranean, America, West Indies, Holland & different parts of the Word & were it for the services of the fourteen Glutmen – holding our Certificates – most of the ships would be left unguarded.

It has been the usage for time immemorial at this Port for the Collr. and Comp. to choose trusty Local Men to be employed Extra or as Glutmen /on the Commissioned Tidewaiters being all on duty/ when the Emergency of the Port required their services which usage & practice we humbly submit received your Honors special sanction & authority 9 July 1795 as by copy of subjoined.

As our present number of Established & Glut Tidewaiters are inadequate to the proper guardianship of foreign arrivals at Intervals, we beg to be informed if it is your Honors pleasure we should pursue the privilege of taking on any additional Glut Tidewaiters to the present number if necessity should require it.


27 January 1817            Mr Arnold’s death we have no doubt was accelerated by his journey to London in November last when subpoened to Westminster on the prosecution of John Wheeler, he having at that time a severe cough – we however understand the cause of his Death was a constitutional complaint in the Lungs and which is very possible to have increased by his exposure to the Weather and Night air in the discharge of his Duty.


27 January 1817            In obedience to your Order of the 24 Inst. on the nomination of Mr James Snudden to be Riding Officer at Shanklin – vice Samuel Alder – deceased.

We report that previous to said Snudden being appointed to act temporarily as Riding Officer at Shanklin under your Honors Order of 11 February 1815 (copy of which is subjoined) he was Coastwaiter at Newport – a Creek of this Port where he was admitted 17 December 1801. Snudden is now 38 Years of Age – very capable and active and in proof of such ability he has made several good Seizures on his Station at Shanklin where Smugling prior to his being fixed there was carried out to a great extent and without constraint – no Officer living within 4 miles of the spot. We beg permission to impress on your Honors recollection that Shanklin is 9 miles distant from Niton, that the appointment of Snudden thereto was recommended by ourselves and Mr How, the Inspector of Riding Officers, as one especially necessary for the prevention of Smugling at Shanklin – and that such recommendation of appointment was totally abstract from and no reference whatever to the situation and office of the late Samuel Alder – Annexed are copies of your Honors Orders – signifying the nomination and appointment of Mr Edward Leigh as Coastwaiter at Newport – and to which he was duly admitted on 2 August 1816 and received your Honors Commission.


5 February 1817             In obedience to your Command of 31 Ultimo – We report that William Robey who by your Order of 31 July was appointed temporarily Inspector of Riding Officers in the Isle of Wight has now resumed his duty as Riding Officer of the first class at Ryde –and further report that we do not consider the services of Richard Mason the temporary Riding Officer at that Station any longer requisite.

Presuming from your Honors late arrangements for shortening the Districts of the Inspector – convenient facility is afforded to the Inspecting Officer who has the supervision of the Riding Officers in the Port of Southampton – to visit the Riding Officers in the Isle of Wight once or twice in the Quarter of a Year – we beg leave to recommend that the three Riding Officers in the Isle of Wight may be placed under his Inspection – as such Duty may be performed easily and without any additional expence to the Revenue Management.


10 February 1817           The capacity of the Custom House property being too small for the reception of Boats – Your Honors have for many years allowed us 5/6 per week to hire a large Private Warehouse for lodging seized Boats instead of their being left on the mud banks to be destroyed or occasionally washed away by the tide as used to be the case and the Warehouse the continuation of which is necessary for the Service. The Commander of the Port and Harpy have accepted the storage of spare boats and heavy stores without any additional cost.


22 February 1817           Inclosed we transmit a Letter from Captain Ferris of the Stork Cutter representing that he lodged with the Collector of Excise at Southampton the 4 December last a Seizure of a Wherry laden with 233 Casks of foreign prohibited Spirits and also six men captured on board her – the Board of Excise having advised a prosecution against said Seizure of Wherry and also against the men – the Licence for the Wherry is herewith forwarded that the Bond given by Arthur Tucker and James Matthews at the Custom House, Portsmouth may under your Honors Orders be put in Suit.


27 February 1817           Arthur Tucker and his five associates captured by Captain Ferris on 4 December last in a Wherry with 233 Casks of Geneva were prosecuted Tuesday the 25 Inst. before the Magistrates at Southampton by the Collector of Excise to whom the Wherry and Spirits were delivered and fined as follows – Tucker in the penalty of £60 and the other 5 men £40 each – On Captain Ferris conveying the Seizure to Southampton conformable to the 16 Sec 50 Geo 3 Chap 104 the Collector of Excise at that Port took charge of the Wherry and sought the orders of his Board and receiving almost immediately afterwards Directions to prosecute both the Spirits and Wherry the same were returned into the Court of the Exchequer – this last term and Condemned – the value of the Spirits is nearly £800 and that of the Wherry £25, the separating of which for distinct prosecutions would have saddled the Seizure with additional expence to the Captors.


28 February 1817           In return to your Order of enquiry of 25 Inst. on the Landing Surveyor’s practice of keeping a foreign jerque book.

We report that this book has been invariably kept by the Landing Surveyor of this port with becoming diligence and ability and that he is perfectly well informed in the duty of his Office and competent to every branch of it.

Inclosed is a specimen of his foreign jerque book showing the discharge of three Cargoes including one into Bonded Timber premises – and we further report a Bonded Warrant for Goods permitted to be Warehoused is considered to be a sufficient authority for jerquing the Inward Blue books and that such books (there being two) are kept open till the Cargo is discharged into the Bonded warehouse of Premises when one of the books is delivered duly jerqued by the Landing Surveyor into the hands of the Warehousekeeper  and finally to the Controlling Surveyor that it may be guidance for them in comparing the Quantities received by Ship Notes into the Warehouse with the aggregate quantity accepted by the Landing Waiters and Landing Surveyor as duly landed from the discharging Ship, at which period the Blue books are consequently closed.


7 March 1817               James Butler the poor fellow who was drowned by the upsetting of the Stork Cutters Boat and afterwards restored to life and to whom an allowance has been paid for subsistence up to 15 November last continues to be so ill and so incapacitated any Employment as will be seen by the Certificate inclosed that he implores again a continuation of your Honors Bounty for the Support of himself and his family.


7 March 1817                In obedience to your Order of 28 Nov 1816, we inclose a list of Seizures made by the Preventive Boats stationed within the limits of this Port between 15 November 1816 and 5 January 1817 made out according to the Seizure Notes delivered to us by respective the respective seizing officers – the rendering on a separate Account of the King’s Share arising from Seizures made by the Preventive Boats conformable to your Honors General Order 28 November 1816 can we submit be done by the officers of Excise with whom the Spirits have been lodged by our Officer for Prosecution agreeable to the 16 Sec 56 Geo 3 Ch 104 they possessing the Gauged contents of Casks and the Hydrometer strength of the Spirits on which data only the value of each Seizure can be estimated and the King’s Share due therefrom be calculated.

If there were no other circumstances that weighed on our minds for the expediency of repealing that objectionable Section of 56 Geo 3 already alluded to, the present one would, we conceive, be sufficient to urge your Honors to request the Lords of the Treasury for a new Act which would simplify the difficulties that now exist in the prosecution of Seizures and that should restore Custom House Officers to that distinct respectable footing they once enjoyed instead of being compelled to carry their Seizures to the Excise and of applying to them for those Rewards which they earned under your Honors Special Authority and Commission.


29 March 1817               In obedience to your Order of 27 September last on the Indulgence granted to the Traders at the Creeks of Newport, Yarmouth and Ryde within this Port by the Hon Boards Order 9th January 1816. We report since 27 September last to the 25 inst, 1334 Vessels have received Coast Documents and Shipped and discharged at such Creeks.

The accommodation is so obviously great to the Public and the Indulgence so little liable to abuse that we beg to recommend that the arrangements for the transacting of Coast Business at Creeks so determined by your Honors for the Relief of Trade should be made permanent.


8 April 1817                   As directed by Order of the 1 inst. about the state of health of James Butler late mariner of the Stork cutter. We report that said Butler from the effects of contrition received on his head by the upsetting of the Six Oared Boat is almost constant delusions and not likely ever to recover. He has a Wife and four Children and as he is reduced to a helpless miserable state we humbly recommend him to your Honors as a fit person for a Pension.


12 April 1817                 The 118 Casks of Spirits Seized by Mr Bourne, Chief Officer of the Preventive Boat stationed at Yarmouth on the 23 Ult. were lodge with the Proper Officer of Excise for prosecution agreeable to the 16th Enactment of 56 Geo 3 Ch 104.

And a small Boat commonly called a Tub Boat was brought to us the same morning by Mr Bourne being seized for not being marked as the Law directs.

The Spirits we understand were found landed on the beach near Hurst, and the Boat on the same beach at a very short distance from the Goods, mutated words on the stern Geo --- Cowes.

The presumption is that the Goods were run by the Boat in question and if your Honors admit the fact Mr Bourne will be entitled to a 2/3 share of the Spirits and Boats.


23 April 1817                 Inclosed you will receive an account of travelling charges incurred by Mr Charles Leigh Coastwaiter at Yarmouth in attending the Landing and Shipping of Cargoes Coastways at Shalfleet agreeable to your Honors General Order 29 June 1815 amounting to £4 – 10 Lady Day Quarter 1817 which is respectfully submitted.


23 April 1817                 Robert Lydall never received any allowance for performing the Coast Duty at Fishbourne and Wootton Bridge prior to the General order of 29 June 1815. The Coast Duty at this place being very accidental it was sometime done by the Coastwaiter at Ryde and at others by the Coastwaiter at Newport. Mr Edward Leigh having now a great deal of increased Duty in clearing vessels Coastwise at the Creek of Newport under 55 Geo 3 Ch 118, it is impossible for him without neglecting his home important Duty to attend the Shipping and Landing of Goods at Wootton Bridge of Fishbourne. Mr Lydall having much less to do we consider him best person to execute the Coast Duty at said place and the accommodation given in consequence of his attendance being great to the Merchant and Shipper. We submit if your Honors do not consider the case analogous to Charles Leigh at Shalfleet and Yarmouth. That you will be pleased to direct the Shipper of Goods Coastwise when they require the presence of a Coast Officer to deposit with us the amount of the travelling charges allowed by your General order 29 June 1815 and the Officer for his extra attendance at a distance from his Station paid therefrom when the duty is performed.


25 April 1817                 Mr Lydall Coastwaiter at Ryde having last Monday obtained from us a weeks Leave of absence and it now appearing by the within letter arrived from Mr Wavell a respectable Surgeon in Newport that Mr Lydall is under Pecuniary Embarrassment and unable at present to return to his Duty and further that Mr Wavell as his Relative is desirous of obtaining from your Honors an additional Months Leave of absence for said Lydall.

We report that in anticipation of your Honors acquiescence to Mr Wavells request, we have directed Jacob Leale, a preferable Tidewaiter on the Establishment, who previously acted during the sickness of Richard Chivertons illness at that Port to proceed to Ryde and execute the Coastwaiters Duty.


22 May 1817                 We feel it incumbent on us to represent to your Honors that the roof of the Custom House at this Port is in such a state of decay that the rafters are so sunk that when a heavy rain falls it penetrates through the roof and ceiling and descends on the Clerks desk and Office Books so much that the Clerks are obliged to remove to other parts of the Long Room to execute Public Business. Desirous of protracting an Application to your Honors for General Repair we have confined ourselves many years past to just keeping it wind and water tight. We feel it is now our duty both in the preservation of Crown Property and to secure ourselves and the Clerks Offices that will enable us to transact Public Business free from the annoyance of the weather – to submit to your Honors the Expedience of causing the repairs to be done which we have procured an estimate from a respectable builder residing in this place, he offering to complete the same for £116.


6 June 1817                   Pursuant to your Order of 31 Ult. founded on Mr Lushington’s letter of 25 April last regarding Gratuities to Preventive Boatmen who are entitled to Superannuation Allowances. We report that the Allowance due to Mr Manner in virtue of the said Order for 32 Years service is £158 – 18 – 8 calculated at £4 – 19 – 4 per lunar Month.


10 June 1817                 Judgement was obtained against John Wheeler in the Exchequer for the Penalty of £100 in (we believe) Michaelmas 1816 and the said Wheeler was served with a Writ of Execution by the Sheriff of Hants – the £100 having been paid to the Sheriff and Mr Ayton your Honors Solicitor advised thereof we submit to him a request for the Officers share.

Mr Williams and the Boats Crew captured the Ann 58 Casks Spirits and 4 Smuglers on board, three of whom were delivered to the Navy and the fourth Wheeler prosecuted to conviction.


11 June 1817                 George Granger has this morning been at this Office and informed us that through life to the advanced Age of 70 years he has never been attended by any Medical Person having enjoyed the best state of Health. Granger now solicits Superannuation. The recommendation comes from ourselves as will be seen on perusal of the following copy of report made to your Honors 14 August 1816. As there is a Preventive Boat now stationed at Bembridge with a Sitter and Seven Boatman, one of whom will be left constantly at the Watch House, it is submitted Geo. Granger, who is a very old man, may be Superannuated and his office of Boatman abolished. The occasional Coast Duty now performed by Geo. Granger on an Incidental allowance of £10 per annum might be executed by the Coastwaiter at Ryde under your Honors Order of 29 June 1815 allowing travelling Charges and the General saving by this arrangement on Grangers Death would be from £50 to £60 per annum. Granger though in the enjoyment of health is a decrepid old Man and no longer good for the Service and being above sixty years of age we humbly submit no medical certificate is required.


13 June 1817                 On the death of Mr Arnold, late Sitter of the Yarmouth Preventive Boat, we directed John Williams, the Commissioned Boatman to take charge and command the Boat until further notice. He acted accordingly from 24 December 1816 exclusive to the 10 January 1817 when he was superseded by Mr William Bourne the present Sitter.

The deficiency of pay claimed for such time is £1 – 16 – 9.

Williams conducted himself with great propriety and zeal for the Service during the time he commanded the Boat and humbly submits the payment of his crave as a Reward for his exertions.


16 June 1817                 In reply to your Order of enquiry regarding Captain Hatchett’s proposal for Employing Harbour Boatmen at the Preventive Stations to assist in the prevention of running Teas. We report that the arrival of Foreign Ships now being very frequent at Cowes, we have not a Boatman more than the Service requires.


18 June 1817                 Annexed is a Plan and Section of the Roof as required by the Surveyor of Buildings with an estimate for repairs to the same of £48. The rain last Saturday having penetrated through the North End down the staircase we deemed it right to have that part of the Premises also inspected and it appearing that it is very much decayed and in want of Repairs the necessary is included in the estimate of £48.

The Collectors House adjoining the Custom House having a handsome Front and Parapet it would be a matter of Gratification to us to have had your Honors permission for carrying on the line of the Parapet to the Custom House as the addition would be a great improvement to the Crown Property giving that distinction to the building which every Public Establishment should have. The difference of Expense is only £68 and by carrying the water from roof by the proposed leaden pipes the front windows and wood work will be preserved and since the purchase of the premises in 1807 we have saved the Crown more than twice the sum mentioned by our Economical Management and very partial repairs we trust your Honors good opinion and confidence you will indulge us the grant already asked. [The repairs to the roof were completed in December 1817, it appears the other request was declined.]


19 June 1817                 An application from George Dyer in Winchester Goal praying he may be allowed the usual pay to poor Prisoners.

George Dyer is a notorious Smuggler of the Isle of Wight and was arrested by virtue of a Writ of Capeas received from Mr Ayton but for what causes we know not – we therefore submit a Reference to Mr Pyton – Dyer notwithstanding his Smuggling habits is a poor man and if your Honors Order him the usual allowance granted by 53 of His Majesties Cap 21, it can be paid at the nearest Port Southampton agreeable to existing Regulations.


1 July 1817                    Last night died Captain Samuel Grove R.N. Inspecting Commander of Preventive Boats on the Isle of Wight holding a Deputation from your Honors to seize Contraband and Prohibited Goods.


4 July 1817                    The Petitioner George Dyce was arrested by a writ of Capias received from Mr Ayton, your Honors Solicitor, and sent to Winchester Goal 10 May where he now remains.

He is a poor man, although a notorious Smuggler and we submit entitled to the allowance granted by 53 Geo Ch 21 and as Southampton is the nearest Port to Winchester. Dyer may, if you please, secure the allowance from the Collector at that Port.


4 July 1817                    As directed by your Order of the 25th Ult. on the Nomination of John Stephens to be Weigher and Locker at this Port, we report that the proper name of the Person nominated is William, and not John and agreeable thereto we transmit a Certificate of his Baptism by which Stephens appears to be 42 Years of Age. He appears to be sufficiently active and capable of performing the Duty of the Office, was bred a Shopkeeper, was never known or suspected to be concerned in Smuggling or to obstructed any Officer of the Revenue in the execution of his Duty.


4 July 1817                    Pursuant to your Order of 22 April last, we report from the enquiries we have made, particularly from Captain Ferris, who saw the man Monday last, that James Butler, one of the mariners of the Stork Cutters boat, is in worse health than he was three months ago, that he is now little better than an idiot and totally incapable of serving His Majesty in any situation. We humbly recommend him as a proper object for a permanent pension, the man having been injured in the Service.


5 July 1817                    The Spirits seized on Thomas Judge having been lodged with the Collector of Excise pursuant to 56 Geo 3 Ch 104 the Offender was prosecuted before the Magistrates by the Excise to whom we submit this Petition was intended to be preferred. [This was a request for a fine to be mitigated.]


9 July 1817                    The Petitioner Mr Manner being 59 Years of Age and having 32 years in the Employ of the Customs does not we humbly apprehend come within the meaning of and letter of the Treasury extract of 5 April 1817, copy of which is subjoined,

Should this man be allowed only one months pay for every year he has served his juniors in the employ superannuated for a few years service will be better accorded than he can be by any gratuity under the Order just quoted.


16 July 1817                  George Dyer has been a Systematic Notorious Smuggler on the isle of Wight for many years and is now confined in Winchester Goal for an Offence against the Revenue.

We are humbly of the opinion the Pledge he could give your Honors of the Sincerity of his profession would be to disclose to us the Smuggling Parties of this Island and with whom he has been in close contact for several years.

The Collector will be ready to take Dyers whenever he has it on his mind to serve his Country by a discharge of the practices he professes in his Petition to have knowledge of.


17 July 1817                  In return to your Order of enquiry of yesterday, we report there are only two Established Clerks in the long room at this Port, neither of whom could be spared for the Service at Newhaven without prejudice to the Public business.


21July 1817                   The Custom House Ensign which has been in use at this Watch House for upwards of fifteen Years being entirely worn out, inclosed we transmit the Tidesurveyors application for a new one to enable him to pay proper Official Respect, Festivals and Royal Days & as well as to shew Masters of Ships on their arrival in the Roadstead from Foreign that the Watch House is a Public office.


28July 1817                   William Stephens having this day been admitted as Weighing Porter and Locker at this Port in the room of Samuel Daw. Inclosed we transmit his Bond for the due execution of his Duty with two Sureties whom we deem sufficient in responsibility.


31 July 1817                  The Gentleman for whom the inclosed Writ of Assistance was intended, having departed this Life the 30 Ultimo of which we acquainted you Honors on the 1 Inst., we judge it right to return the same.


1 August 1817               The Petitioner Robert Miller holds a Coal Commission & acts occasionally as a Glut Tidewaiter, and being of an active disposition and zealous for the suppression of Smuggling, we encouraged him some months ago to build at his own expense a Four Oared Boat for the purpose of looking out after Smugglers, in conjunction with other Glutmen when unemployed & which he did at the personal cost of £45 – some success has attended his vigilance and it was only last week he received from the Excise Collector £18 – 7 – 6 as a Reward for 6 Casks of Spirits seized & delivered by him under the 16th Enactment 56 Geo 3 Ch 104, but being threatened some time ago with resistance in case he was met with attempting to make a seizure without legal authority, his efforts have from a sense of prudence been suspended. Knowing as we do from the long experience of Millers activity, that your Honors would be supporting the Public service in exercising the discretionary power given by the Act 57 of His Majesty Ch 87, we earnestly recommend that the prayer of his Petition be entertained.


4 August 1817               The Petitioner Mr Manner was superseded in his position as Chief Boatman at Atherfield by your Honors Order 8 July 1817 since which he has not been placed on the Superannuation list. Manner having been 32 Years in the Service and being 59 Years of Age. He humbly submits his claim to full Superannuation particularly as Mr Rubie, a Boatman, in the same Boat under Manner and who is only 53 Years of Age and has served 25 Years has by your Honors Order 8 July 1817 been granted £35 per annum. We beg leave to refer your Honors to our letter 9 Ult. on this subject.


11 August 1817             Inclosed is a Letter from Richard Cass, Warehousekeeper, of the Bonded Premises at this Port representing that William Stephens who was nominated Locker and Weigher the 28 Ult. in virtue of your Honors Order 24 same month refused to enter his Office urging that he was advised by his Friends in the value of his Employment – Stephens has not been seen near the Port since the 28 Ult. and his Commission and Instructions being left by him on the Warehousekeepers desk, we pray your Honors Instructions.


2 September 1817          The Stork Cutter did not exist in the Years 1790 and 1796 as stated by the Petitioner John King but on reference to our Incident 1809 it appears John King was seen for misconduct on board the Stork 30 Dec. 1809 consequently the wage which he could have received for that Quarter had he behaved well became forfeited viz. £5 – 13 – 11½ and which sum was applied in the Christmas Quarter 1809 to the Superannuation Fund.


4 September 1817          We are humbly of opinion the two Petitioners, Badcock and Branscombe, have suffered sufficiently for their Offence, and earnestly recommend their relief from Gaol, as prayed for.


8 September 1817          The Petitioner George Dyer is one of the most notorious Smuglers in the Isle of Wight and with a gang consisting of Barnabas Tribbick and others in the Nancy Sloop with a steared Bowsprit, has carried on a successful Illicit Trade for many of years. The particulars of the Offence for which he is now imprisoned – we are not acquainted with, we beg respectfully to refer your Honors to Mr Ayton for them – as well as Dyers Letters and Declarations transmitted to you – in one of which he says he would rather suffer death than discover any of his associates. This man since he was committed to Gaol 10 May last has written about a dozen petitions for his release – founding his pretensions on his knowledge of Smugling practices in the Isle of Wight and his peculiar Capacity for performing the Duties of a Deputed Officer in a Preventive Boat. We trust that your Honors will be uninclined to give that sort of decision on the present petition and on Dyers troubles and appeals for some months to come.


17 September 1817        Annexed is an account of the officers actual expenses in conveying Dyer after his arrest from the Isle of Wight to Winchester Goal which we consider extremely reasonable on 24 February 1816. John Roach acquainted us by letter that they had been directed by Mr Ayton to file an Information against Jauvain and Migrish but we do not find any subsequent order expressing how the prosecution was to be carried on. The Officers declined prosecuting in their own name preferring that the Crown should do it.

The Affidavit of the Information was made before the Collector 24 September 1815 and transmitted in our Letter to your Honors 25 September 1815 and, with the exception of the Letter 24 September, we heard nothing of any proceedings against Dyer, Jauvain and Migrish till we got Mr Aytons Letter 25 April 1817 saying that the Commissioners having directed a Prosecution to be commenced against above Defendants he should send Writs of Capias to have them arrested &c.which was afterwards done and Dyer arrested.


19 September 1817        In reference to your Honors order 31 May respecting the receiving of seized Goods and preparing the same for sale, Cooperage, &c.

We report that for some years we have employed Robert Miller, a Coal Meter on the Establishment by reason of his superior competency and sobriety – to receive seized goods into the Warehouse and to assist the Collectors Clerk in allotting the same for sale – and delivery – since the abolition of Fees no charge at this Port has been made for Cooperage of small Casks and as Millers pay is casual and only 2/6 per Diem when employed we submit an account of his Experience, capability and trust your Honors will allow us for the Benefit of the Service to continue to employ him in the Warehouse when wanted –particularly so as the number of Established Tidewaiters at this Port is nine only, and as from the frequency of foreign arrivals in our Roadstead from America and elsewhere, they are almost daily wanted by the Tidesurveyor to be boarded.


19 September 1817        We have reason to believe from Enquiries we have made that the Petitioner James Steward is a very poor man at that there is not the smallest probability of his ever being able to pay any part of the Penalty for which he was imprisoned.

The allegations set forth in the Petition we do not discredit and in addition to the Certificate of Mr Lyford, a highly respectable Surgeon at Winchester, Mr White the Gaoler has informed us that Stewards Death is approaching fast – under which circumstances and assurance we consider it our Duty to urge your Honors to recommend Stewards immediate release.


23 September 1817        We have to acknowledge receipt of your Honors letter of 20 inst enclosing the plan and specification for building a Watch and Boat House at Orchard Bay and pursuant to your Special Order therein we lost not a moment in sending them to the contractor directing them to proceed without delay. We agree we should have sent the plan and specification to Captain Hanchett in the first instance instead of transmitting them direct to your Honors conformable to your Order. The error arose inadvertently and not intentional disregard to the Honourable Boards Directions, we trust you Honors will not feel the offence at our mistake. [This was subsequently delayed due to problems with the Lease, the Lessor wanted 21 years, the Customs Board wanting 40.]

The Collector was last week at Freshwater and selected a piece of Ground for the building of a Watch and Boat House there – but as the land is in the hands of Trustees and cannot as will be seen by Letters enclosed from Mr Prilden, Solicitor to the Trust be alienated or taken on lease and we are making enquiries for another Spot the result of which shall be duly communicated to your Honors as enjoined by your letter of 8 August. 


25 September 1817        In return to your Order of Enquiry regarding providing Houses for Crews of the Preventive Boats we report that the people forming the Crew of the Bembridge Preventive Boat are all accommodated with Houses or Private Lodgings within a very short distance of the Watch House built at that Station and that no House is required at present to be built at that spot. That we have prevailed on the Hon. C A Pelham to grant a lease in some land at St Lawrence for accommodation for the Sitter and Crew of the Puckaster Preventive Boat and we wait only your Honors Order in reply to our letter of 24 September [Concerning the lease] to commence the building in question and which we pray to have as soon as possible that we may take advantage of the present fine weather. That the Crew of the Atherfield Preventive Boat are accommodated, except one who lives 3 miles distant, and we have directed him to engage a nearer dwelling which he will try to do. If he cannot succeed we shall hereafter submit a cottage may be built for him. That we have been in treaty some time past for some Land at Freshwater to build a Watch and Boat House for the Crew of the Freshwater Boat as will be seen on reference to our Letter 23 Inst. and we expect daily another proposal of Lease from Mr Hicks a Landholder living at Freshwater. That application has now been made to Sir Leonard Wesley Holmes Bart for some Land to build cottages at Sconce Point for the accommodation of the Yarmouth Preventive Boat who has answered that he at present he cannot pledge himself to make the grant without a communication with some Gentlemen in the vicinity of Sconce who have remonstrated against the projected building. We received your Honors Order for building three 36 feet Gallies the 12 June last and at the period of three weeks they were completed and delivered to the Sitters named by Captain Hatchett, Extra men being sent at the same time to Bembridge and Yarmouth.

The Watch Houses at Bembridge and Atherfield having been occupied in the present year, we beg to be informed from what period we are to charge each Sitter with Rent on paying their Salaries.


26 September 1817        Mr Hamlett is not a Timber Merchant or Dealer in Wood, the Cargo in question having been bought for private use. We have no reason to doubt the truth of his allegation that the error in the Masters Report arose from a mistake and not from any intention of Fraud.


29 September 1817        Three Smugglers captured on board a Smuggling Vessel called the Providence of Weymouth taken by the Harpy Revenue Cutter having on Saturday 27 Inst. before a Bench of Magistrates at Newport in this Island pursuant to 5 Enact 57 Geo 3 Ch 87 and fined in the mitigated Penalty of £25.


3 October 1817              Pursuant to your Order of the 27th Ult. respecting accommodation to be secured for the Preventive Crew at Freshwater Gate and a Boat House to be built for the security of the Kings Boat, we have to report to your Honors that Robert Hicks, the Lord of the Manor at Freshwater Gate is willing to let to the Crown for 40 Years at £5 per Annum – 200 feet in length by 70 feet in breadth.

The Crew, 5 in number, being now scattered in different parts of the Parish and there being no shelter or accommodation for them there except the Public House at the Gate, we have considered it to be our Duty to provide a Plan and Specification for a Watch and Boat House which Mr John Stephens, a respectable Builder offers to complete for £330 – 17 – 0.

The Yarmouth Preventive Boat now moved to Sconce being exposed to all Weathers and Depredations by lying on the Shore, there being no Boat House or cover for them – we further consider it to be our Duty to recommend a Boat House similar to the one projected at Freshwater gate to be built at Sconce adjoining the Battery – a little on the East side of it and that an application be made to the Ordnance Board for permission to build thereon conditionally – that whenever the Battery may be wanted again for the purpose of war, the Boathouse shall be removed.

The Builder of the Watch and Boat House at Orchard Bay for the Puckaster Cove Preventive Boat having been unavoidably suspended for the reason in our letter of the 25th Ult., we humbly entreat your Honors directions whether the Building in question is to be proceeded on, it being most desirable to advantage the present fine weather.


10 October 1817            We applied to your Honors on the 27 Ult. for a set of Tables by which we might calculate the Rewards due to the Military aiding and assisting our officers in making seizures similar to set of Tables sent out by your Honors Order in 1811 – when Clarke’s Hydrometer was in use – instead of which an Order has been given to use a Sykes Hydrometer, one of which was received by us 19 July last.

We have to respectfully request as we are totally unable to pay Military Claimants now on the Isle of Wight and who are in daily expectation of embarking for Foreign Stations – that your Honors will be pleased to order the necessary set of Tables be forwarded us prepared from Sykes Hydrometer.


11 October 1817            Inclosed is a letter from Mr William Bourne, Chief Officer of the Yarmouth Preventive Boat No. 40 representing an outrageous and daring attack on his Boats Crew in the Night of 5 instant by 40 men armed with Bludgeons who after beating severely William Wheeler, Commissioned Boatman and George Vey, rescued from them about 80 casks of Spirits of which they had made Seizure. It appears that on the Boatman’s first search for smuggled goods he examined the premises of the Boathouse at Totland Bay belonging to James Brunsdon and John Knowles of Freshwater and found that the door had been locked.

That on withdrawing therefrom and after continuing their search to other spots in Freshwater Parish on their return to Totland Bay and on the direct road descending the cliff they encountered 40 men with casks at their backs who surrendered the same to the Boatmen. The Boatmen in moving the seizure took off their coats in which their Pistols were and laid them on the ground and began to remove the casks down the cliff to the Boathouse in which they had also at that time discovered 13 casks more Spirits.

The doors being open when the Smugglers returned and commenced a violent attack beating the Officers and removing about 80 casks of Spirit. As there cannot be the smallest doubt that the whole Seizure consisting of 100 casks of Spirit were in Brunsdon and Knowles Boathouse on the morning of 5 inst. under their own lock when Wheeler the Commissioned Boatman first tried to open the Doors and that the two men were not only parties to the Smuggling transaction but Principals thereto. We submit of your Honors may not think fit to direct that the special proceedings may be immediately had against James Brunsdon and John Knowles and that a Reward of £200 be advertised for the discovery of the unknown offenders.


15 October 1817            A Look out Room for the Accommodation of the Yarmouth Preventive Boat having been erected at Sconce Battery pursuant to Treasury Order 15 August last and your Honors Order thereon of 23 succeeding.

Inclosed we transmit Mr John Stephens Bill for erecting the same with his Request that he may be paid £53 – 8 – 0 such being the sum he engaged to complete the work for.


16 October 1817            We have to acknowledge your Honors Order 14 Inst. Mr Manner a superannuated Commissioned Boatman in the Atherfield Preventive Boat. And we respectfully acquaint your Honors that not having received any instructions as to the rate of Superannuation Manner is entitled to, we are totally at a loss what money to pay him. Manner conceives from 32 Years Service in the Customs and being 59 Years of Age as not coming within the Letter of the Lords of the Treasury 25 April last – such being intended to apply to Boatmen not entitled to Superannuation and therefore humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to reconsider his case and direct that he be put on the Superannuation list after answering the usual printed questions none of which has hitherto been sent to him to reply to.


1817 - 1818

Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009