Collector to Board Letters Book 1818 - 1819


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/31, 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


3 October 1818              On the inclosed Representation of Mr Cooper, a Miller and Timber Merchant at Wootton Bridge, we report that the demand of £5 – 12 – 6 was made on him by the Surveyor of Coastwaiters as being consideration perfectly within the Letter & Spirit of your Honors Order 29 June 1815. Mr Cooper residing at more than 3 miles distant from the Officers Station and having desired the Coastwaiters Attendance for the dispatch of his particular Business and facilitating the Clearance of Vessels conveying or landing his Goods & Merchandize Coastwise. Mr Cooper resists the payment of £5 – 12 – 6 on the argument that his acquiescence would place him at a disadvantage with his fellow Tradesmen. It also may be said on the part of Edward Leigh, the Coastwaiter at Newport who is a very meritorious Officer keeping his Books extremely well and executing the Duty of principal Coast Officer under 55 Geo 3 Ch 118 (and which is not inconsiderable) much to our satisfaction and greatly to the convenience of the Merchants and Traders at that Town – That it is equally hard on him to be obliged to attend Mr Cooper’s messages from private Accommodation 4 or 5 Miles distant from his Station with personal expense and inconvenience.

We however beg to observe that the Coast Duty at the Creeks of Shalfleet, Newtown, Brading, St Helens & Bembridge is respectively executed by the Coastwaiters at Yarmouth and Ryde – as exemplified in the within draft – your Honors allowing the Officer to crave Quarterly their charges under the General Order 29 June 1815 and should it be your pleasure Mr Cooper should be placed on the same footing as those shipping & landing Goods at the said specific Creeks – Mr Leighs crave can be made quarterly for his special attendance at Wootton Bridge and Fishbourne in the same way as the others.


8 October 1818              The Petitioner, a poor french Woman who has had her chest detained for being brought Coastways from Lymington without Coast Despatches, the articles are common french Toys – some Scent Bottles and confectionery all not worth £10 on which the Duties were duly paid as Portsmouth as will appear by the Bill annexed. Believing there is not the smallest Fraud or intention of Fraud on the mind of this poor woman in the present case, but the seizure has arisen from her ignorance of the necessity of taking out a Sufferance at Lymington.

We humbly submit as she is in very great distress of Mind at having her Goods seized – your Honors will be pleased to communicate her situation and order her Goods to be given up on a small gratuity to the Officer.


10 October 1818            Ryde from Newport is 7 Statute Miles, always charged by the Post Master 8 Miles. From the Quay the Coastwaiters station at Newport to Mr Coopers Wharf at Wootton Bridge the Distance is full 4 Miles.

From Mr Coopers Wharf at Wootton Bridge to the Coastwaiters Station at Ryde near the Pier where all Goods are shipped & landed the distance is near 3 Miles & a half. The Mile Post which indicates the distance from Ryde being fixed a quarter of a Mile from Mr Coopers Premises on the Ryde side of Wootton showing that it is 3 Miles from that spot to Ryde. Fishbourne we will admit is not 3 Miles though rather more than 2½ Miles.

Mr Lydall the Coastwaiter at Ryde having less Duty to Execute than Mr Leigh should be relieved from the Wootton Bridge Duty to enable him to be more in his Office to clear Vessels Coastwise under the Regulations 55 Geo 3 Ch 118.

We would submit for your Honors consideration and which would place the whole of the Coast Business on a Good and feasible footing – that the Wootton Bridge Attendance altogether be delegated to Officer at Ryde – on his being allowed from your Honors his Travelling Charges agreeable to the rate laid down in your Honors Order 1815 and on his proving to us the necessity of his attendance – and that the same Officer shall attend at Fishbourne when called upon by the Merchant Gratis, the Distance being less than 3 Miles.


27 October 1818            We respectfully submit that the case has no character of France, the piece of Timber seized is about 8 feet long worth about 38/0 liable to no Duty being the Produce of Quebec and the Boat as a heavy Ships Boat worth about £5. Both unquestionably are liable to Seizure – the timber being unshipped without Entry and the Boat for not being marked as the Law requires – we humbly submit the Restitution on a small satisfaction.


29 October 1818            The Accountant of Petty Receipts having surcharged the Collector with the following sums viz.

£6 – 7 – 6          A Military Reward paid for Spirits Seized 12 July 1816

£2 – 6 – 7          Do. paid 10 August 1816

£8 – 14 – 1        Total taken credit for in our last Accounts of Condemned Goods Michaelmas Quarter 1816 – by reason given – that as Seizures on which such Rewards became due were delivered over to the Excise for prosecution. The Money ought to have been paid by the Collector of that Revenue – we respectfully explain that at the time of paying the Rewards the Seizures in question were in the Custom House Warehouse at this Port – under our Locks having be brought there in the usual manner – by the Seizing Officers for prosecution and that till 5 November 1816 – Three Months after they had been in our Custody – we received your Honors Order for delivery of said Spirits Seizure to Excise.

Under which circumstances – and our strict obedience to your injunctions that all Military Rewards should be paid with the greatest promptitude – and without waiting for the Condemnation of the Seizures and our being ignorant at the time that such Seizures would be ultimately delivered to the Excise for prosecution.

The Collector humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to offer directions to the Accountant of Petty Receipts to pass his Accounts for Michaelmas Quarter 1816 and exonerate him from the said surcharge of £8 – 14 – 1.


11 November 1818         The Spirits in question were brought to the Warehouse by the various Seizing Officers in 682 small Casks & 2 Jars original Smugling packages – some containing 2, 2½ & 3 Gallons – such packages being too small for gauging the contents the contents were started according to long existing practice into a 5 Gallon Measure and several quantities thereon are put one of more large store Casks in which they remain until your Honors Orders are received for sending the Spirits to London then the quantity is drawn off and put into Pipes, Hogheads and Puncheons for its conveyance by Coaster. These Seizures began to accumulate in the year 1814. 444½ Gallons of Brandy and 185 Gallons of Geneva of which have at different times been accounted for on the actual Gauges of the Casks which conveyed the remainder of the Spirits hence to London have been transmitted already.


12 November 1818         Having on the 7th Inst. craved an Imprest Bill on the Receiver of Fines for £858 – 18 - ¾ to pay Seizure Rewards for 6 Officers which have been due a considerable time and to which Letter we now humbly submit a reference and this Morning having received your Honors Order of yesterday to pay Mr Aldred, the Sitter at Brownsea, an additional Reward for £42 – 8 – 10 on account of his assisting the Harpy Cutter and making a Seizure and capturing an Englishman by the name of Hopper. We have humbly to request that the sum craved for in the Letter may be made £901 – 6 – 10¾ to enable the Collector to discharge the whole of the Rewards now due and ordered to be paid.


3 December 1818           We have to report that on Monday last the Collector in conjunction with Samuel Harris, Deputed Boatman of the Bembridge Preventive Boat seized an undecked yawl following causes viz. In having a Running Bowsprit 18 feet 2 inches long – a length that exceeds 2/3rds of the yawls extreme length (such being only 26 feet 11 inches) with a traveller on it for shifting gibbs and without any fixed stay contrary to 34 Ch 50 Sect 7, 35 Ch 51 Sect 1, and 47 Ch 50 Sect 7 of His Majesty. The defence set up by Charles Sim, the owner, a notorious Smugler is that she is an open Row Boat built according to the 28 Geo 3Ch 34 & 34 Geo 3 Ch 22 Sect 6, her Breadth being 9 feet, Depth 5 feet, Plank ¾, Timber 1½ inches and the rigging as a Yawl is still a Row Boat. We however beg to submit that these Acts regulating the build and Construction Boats applied and applies now more immediately to Row Boats and not to such vessels as this vessel as an undecked yawl is – and answers the Smuglers views full as well as any Sharp Built Cutter or Lugger, she being no more calculated for rowing that a Launch or Barge.

An additional reason for seizure is that the Seizing Officer found concealed under the yawl’s stern sheets 2 Quarts of prohibited Spirits in a vessel of French Fabric and in possession of Charles Sim on board the yawl another Stone Vessel of French fabric 3 half pints Geneva, such concealment being contrary to the Acts 24 Geo 3 Ch 47, 42 Geo 3 Ch 82 and 47 Geo 3 Ch 66 Sect 17.

The parties concerned in the yawl being notorious Smuglers and no doubt existing by having run or sunk off the Wight on Sunday night last 100 Casks of prohibited Spirits – we humbly submit this is a case that admits of no charity and it being further desirable that the point shall be decided whether Craft of this description should be permitted to navigate without Licence – there being no less than 4 of this sort belonging to the Isle of Wight and great numbers belonging to Smuglers of Hastings, Deal, Dover &c. – we pray your Honors instructions. [The Smuggling charge was subsequently dismissed by the Magistrates. The Collector wrote another long letter to the Board about the boat, not transcribed.]


9 December 1818           There being due at this Port sundry Rewards to Officers for Tonnage of Broken up Boats, Rewards to the Military & Boat Bills for which your Honors Orders are received and the Collector not having sufficient Money in hand arising from the King’s Share of Condemned Goods.

He humbly prays an Imprest Order may be granted him on the Receiver of Fines for the Sum of £100 – 17 – 0¼ as particularized on the back hereof in order that he may meet the demands now due.

Tonnage award for Broken up Boat          £34 – 10 – 0

Rewards to the Military                           £56 – 17 – 9¼

Boat Bills for November 1818                  £9 – 9 – 3

                                                            £100 – 17 – 0¼


15 December 1818         Most humbly conceiving that your Honors opinion signified in your Letter of 2 October is based on some defect in Representation of the Circumstances which we were compelled to lay before your Honors 18 August last on Mr James Day’s refusal to pay the charges adjudged by the Magistrates on the Isle of Wight as due to the Officers of the Revenue for their services at the wreck of L’Eugene, such opinion being the reverse of that given by the Honorable Board in the year 1815 on a similar case as will appear by the inclosed Papers regarding a Vessel called the Abolina.

We beg in consequence to explain that the Collector took Mr Day’s Bond in quality as Salvor but Ex officio as Collector of the Customs under the 12 Anne Ch 18 deeming it his duty to demand security for the Salvors generally – and without asking the concurrence of any individual Salvor to the Bond he was requiring before the Goods were delivered from the Warehouse – For which reason as well as Mr Day having also paid the Excise Officers who were acting in conjunction with our Officers at the Wreck their demand of £21 – 18 adjudged by the same Magistrates and next the difficulty we shall have in finding Officers at future similar accidents to go 15 or 20 miles from home and watch all night in bad weather without the certainty of being so remunerated for such special service.

We submit if your Honors may not think to cause a review of former Papers on L’Eugene now with the Solicitor and direct him to sue Day at the Customs charge. The Collector is being constantly applied to by the Officers for their Money.


19 December 1818         Philip Caton, alias Keating, was captured in a Wherry laden with 28 Casks of foreign Geneva in the Cutler of Portsea off Shanklin on 4th January 1818 by the St Lawrence Preventive Boat, his companions Andrew Bold and James Biles being fit and able seamen were delivered over to the Queen Charlotte Man of War and the Petitioner failing in the proof his being a Passenger was convicted on 6 January by the Magistrates under the 5 Sect 57 Geo 3 Ch 87 in the Penalty of £100 and not being able to pay the same was sent to Winchester Goal where he has remained ever since.

He is an old man & very indigent but seems to have been very ill advised in setting up an unfounded Defence at this late period of his imprisonment.


23 December 1818         In obedience to your Order of the 17 instant on Mr Barrow’s of the Admiralty respecting a Smugler of the name of William Seale who had absented from His Majesty’s Ship at Halifax.

We report that there is no person of the name of Seale residing at Cowes. At the East part of the Wight there is a notorious Smugling Family of that name, but from particular Search and Enquiries we have caused through Mr Robey, our Riding Officer living at Ryde, William Searle the person in question has not returned to the Isle of Wight – we shall persevere with our enquiries and should we learn anything of him we will not fail to report it.


24 December 1818         The Rose of Weymouth was brought into custody 24 November 1818 by the mate of the Adder Ketch and on review of the Circumstances has been Ordered by your Honors to prosecute in the Exchequer signified to us in your Letter 18 Inst.

We submit a reference to the Mate Mr Congdon of the Adder Ketch at Alderney for his ground for her detention and should your Honors deem them sufficient to found a prosecution in the Exchequer – the Collector will be prepared to submit to your Honors judgement a cause of Forfeiture to the Rose of Weymouth after she was brought into Cowes Harbour and of which Mr Congdon was perfectly ignorant. The Collector however respectfully begs it to be understood he in no degree wished to interfere with Mr Congdon’s proceedings if he has any cause of forfeiture to allege against the Vessel.


28 December 1818         Mr James Snudden being a Riding Officer stationed at Sandown (this Officer doing no other duty) we humbly conceive he comes within the full and Special meaning of the words “In the Prevention of Smugling” in the 7 line 6 Sect 56 Geo 3 Ch 64 and by so doing is entitled to a Moiety Share of the proceeds of a Seizure made by him the 22 July 1817 of 51 casks of Spirits discovered in a cave at Bonchurch and from which in obedience to your Honors Order 12 December 1817 he has only been paid a third share.


1 January 1819              In Obedience to your standing order of 30 October 1777 we beg leave to report that the number of letters received from your Honors at this port and adopted by us is 331.


12 January 1819            On the within petition of Mr Richard Jeatt for a Reward for capturing a Smugler of the name of Nicholas Moorman.

We report that we have been informed that the said Moorman was liberated from Winton Goal about 6 weeks ago after a confinement of nearly two Years. As no instructions were sent to us for his release we submit a reference to your Honors Solicitors for the Authority given.

By your Order 27 August last you were pleased to signify the Reward to Jeatt would be considered when the amount of the Penalty was ascertained.


18 January 1819            This application is from Richard Smart a Commissioned Boatman in the Tide Surveyors Boat & as we can with truth certify that he has always conducted himself with propriety and becoming diligence in the station he has filled. We beg to recommend him – on account of his age (71) & consequent inability to perform the Duty of the Boat to your Honors for Superannuation.


18 January 1819            No prosecution has been carried on by your Honors our any other Officer of our Department against James Harbour the Petitioner but we understand the Collector of Excise Isle of Wight prosecuted James Harbour for Smuggling & that he has since been committed to Winchester Gaol.


18 January 1819            No prosecution has been carried on by your Honors our any other Officer of our Department against Samuel Saunders the Petitioner but we understand the Collector of Excise Isle of Wight prosecuted Samuel Saunders for Smuggling & that he has since been committed to Winchester Gaol.


5 February 1819             We hereby transmit Papers containing a complaint of Mr J B Meinholt, a Ships Agent of this Port against the Clerk of Mr James Day another Ships Agent for clandestinely receiving from the Swedish Anna Sophia, whilst under restraint of Quarantine in Cowes Roadstead a Letter addressed to the Masters Correspondent in London in which we report that from the investigation we made into this manner on the 23 Ulto. when the parties were present at this Office, the Affidavit we have since received, (now inclosed) and the letter of Mr Castindrick, a respectable Merchant dated London 4 July, in reply to the Collectors letter, and a letter from Mr Meinholt dated 1 July entertaining his Specific Charge and acknowledging all his suspicions would cease if Mr Castindrick answered that they did not receive an Enclosure from the Anna Sophia.

That we deem that Mr Meinholts Complaint arises more from a Spirit of Rivalry in Ship Agency than any desire to strengthen the Security of out Quarantine Regulation.


9 February 1819             As directed by your Honors Order of the 29 Ultimo on the prosecution of Charles Trim, a notorious Smuggler, before the Magistrates at Newport 5 December 1818, we report no Penalty was levied on said Trim – the Magistrates conceiving the Act of concealing the Spirits not sufficiently made out. We therefore pray your Honors will please allow the expense incurred in the prosecution of Charles Trim as craved in our letter 12 Ult. to be paid to the Collector, he having actually disbursed them. Had we been successful in committing Charles Trim, it is we believe more than probably £1000 might have been averted to the Revenue – as it is well know Trim and his companions in his open yawl have made several trips to Fecamp since for smuggled Goods without being intercepted by the Preventive Force looking out for them.


22 February 1819           We transmit inclosed an application from Robert Lydall, Coastwaiter at Ryde, who on the night of 15 August 1817 after performing the Coast Duty of the Day went out for the Prevention of Smuggling and seized 20 cask and 61 gallons of Prohibited Spirit and being allowed only a share of one third now humbly prays to share a Moriety he having heard that other Officers similar situated have under your Honors Order have been allowed a Moriety part. He was paid by us pursuant to the Honorable Honors order £15 – 14 – 6, the Proceeds of a third share and the difference now due to him from a Moriety share is £7 – 17 – 3.


25 February 1819           A bale containing 34 British Muslin Shawls and 89 pieces of Muslin Trimmings was seized by the Landing Surveyor (whose report on which is annexed) on the 7 Instant for being landed from a Jersey Trader called the Hors in passing Cowes from Jersey to Portsmouth without any report being made by the Master of authority obtained for landing it. There is no doubt from the opinion taken on the fabric of the Goods that they are of British Manufacture, but the Bale might have contained prohibited articles as well as British and which we strongly suspect from the irregularity in landing.


17 March 1819               Last night in thick Fog and a strong Wind from SW the French Brig Le Jupiter from Bordeaux to Bologne laden with Brandy and Wine was stranded at Grange Chine on the South part of the Island. In aid of the Salvors & for the protection of the Revenue we have directed the Landing Surveyor and 4 Trusty Tidewaiters to repair to the spot & shall dispatch other Officers should it become necessary.


18 March 1819               In obedience to your Order of 13 Ult. we caused the advertisement to be inserted in two Provincial Papers (Portsmouth and Salisbury) for the space of one Month offering a Reward of £100 for the apprehension of the person who fired at Captain Miller Worsley and have to report that as yet no discovery has been made to us concerning the Transaction.

22 February 1819           Extract from the Hampshire Telegraph (not from Letters Book)

CUSTOM-HOUSE LONDON. February 13th 1819

Whereas it has been represented to the Commissioners of his Majesty’s Customs that Captain MILLER WORSLEY, Inspecting Commander of the Isle of Wight, being on his return from the Parish of Wroxall to Gatcombe, on the night of 25th of December 1818, was feloniously fired at by some person or persons unknown, from a wood situated between Wroxall and Godshill, about eight miles from Newport, in the said Isle of Wight.

The Commissioners of his Majesty’s Customs, in order to bring to justice the said offender or offenders, are hereby pleased to offer a Reward of ONE HUNDRED POUNDS to any Person or Persons who shall discover, or cause to discover, any one or more of the said offenders, so that they may be apprehended and dealt with according to the law, to be paid by the Collector of his Majesty’s Customs at the Port of Cowes upon conviction.

By Order of the Commissioners

G.DELAVAUD, Secretary.


23 March 1819               Inclosed are Mr Bourne’s observations on the application of Mr Robert Willis a Boatman at Yarmouth to share in a Seizure made by Bourne the 5th October 1819 [sic.] on which we have to report that Isaac Bright, who gave the Information to Willis after he saw Bourne proceeding to the spot where the Goods were sunk has long been known to us as a notorious Smugler carrying on illicit practices at the West End of the Isle of Wight being successfully with a person named Anthony Taylor for these last 3 Years in a large open Lugsail Boat called the Fanny and by which Boat there is no doubt the Seizure made by Bourne was illegally imported and sunk off Hampstead the 3 October 1818. Willis has been a very efficient Officer to the Service, but we submit his former merits cannot justify his claiming a portion of the Seizure in question when it is so incontrovertible that he did not receive his Information from Bright till Bourne was in a private communication and on which he was actually acting and not till 2 Days after. The Goods were sunk in Bright’s presence at Hampstead and Bright being a part owner of the Spirits.

When Willis at the time of the Seizure came to the Custom House in Company with Bourne he said he also had an Information and rowed to the spot to assist in making the Seizure. We recommended to Bourne as a Compensation for Willis’s service that he should be paid 2/16th part of the proceeds and with which Willis acknowledge himself perfectly satisfied.

But when he came 3 Weeks afterwards to Custom House with this notorious fellow Bright who not thinking the 2/16th Share sufficient for himself & Willis audaciously disclosed himself as Informer though conscious of his being proprietor of part of the goods. We felt indignant at Willis’s conduct and told him we should recommend to your Honors not to allow him to share in any way from the said Proceeds and which Recommendation we pray your Honors to support, being convinced that whatever sum Willis may receive, the greater proportion of it will thereafter go to the Importing Smugler.

We beg to refer your Honors to the Annexed papers which contain a Declaration extracted from Bright when he audaciously came to the Custom House to claim a share of the Information given to him by Willis.


5 April 1819                   Inclosed we transmit a Surveying Office’s Certificate to obtain a Licence for the Smack Mary registered at this Port. Edward Mitchell the owner is a Licensed Pilot under the Corporation of the Trinity House having held a Warrant from that Board since November 1808.

We believe he strictly adheres to the Piloting Service and that he is no Smugler, but it appears he was fined for a small offence (having some coffee in his possession) £11 – 1 – 8 the 14th December 1801 and that he duly paid the Penalty and that such is his only offence against the Revenue Laws.

Certificate – Edward Mitchell is an Industrious Man and lately surrendered his licence for the Edward & Mary Pilot Vessel having sold her and built a new one, the value of the present Vessel Mary is £400 including materials.


12 April 1819                 The Petitioner, Philip Keating alias Caton, we believe is in extreme poverty & and as he has been in Gaol now 15 Months & has a report of good behaviour from the Gaoler. We submit if your Honors may not think it fit to recommend his release. He was committed by a Magistrate of the Isle of Wight under 5 Sect 57 Geo 3 Ch 84 in the Penalty of £100.


12 April 1819                 The Embarkation of Emigrants in number about eighty being about to take place at this Port of the Brig ‘Resolution’, Clarke Master for Baltimore 380 tons by Register and of the berthen of 500 tons sworn by the Master before the Magistrates. We have signified to the Parties that the number to be embarked must be reduced by the Register Tonnage, that of Berthen being an indefinite assumption of space as enacted by 43 George Chapters 56 & 53 George 3 Chapter 36 Section 1, the last of which specifically empowers the Collector to Admeasure a foreign vessel for the due ascertainment of the Tonnage in order that the Passengers embarking thereon may have proper room and accommodation. The great object we submit of the Passenger Acts, as is sometimes the case we are told that in this instance our practices and interpretation of the Law differ from those that obtain in the Port of London & that the shipment of Passengers & Emigrants is entirely there governed by the Burthen of a Ship and not her Registered Tonnage. Having averted to our files of General Orders, and finding none that explained that the Burthen of the Ship is to be considered & not the Tonnage. We respectfully request your Honors directions on the point at issue for our Government the guidance for a British Ship being ready to take in her passengers. If the number is to be regulated by association to the Registered Tonnage each person going out on the ‘Resolution’ will enjoy 94 cubic feet. If permitted to embark aforementioned Burthen viz. 500 Tons, each Person will only have 60 cubic feet.


27 April 1819                 Richard Smart a Commissioned Boatman having been superannuated in pursuance to your Honors Order of 2nd March last. We have to report that there is at present vacant the place of Commissioned Boatman at Cowes on the Tidesurveyors Boat vice said Smart superannuated. The pay £5 per annum Salary and 2/6 per day when employed.


30 April 1819                 Having this post received the within letter from Messrs Greenwoods with the amount of some Rewards £71 – 4 – 0 remittance therein to be paid to the Military the 18th March last and now desirous that I would in consequence of a letter from the War Office, copy of which is subscribed, I would pay said amount of Rewards to the Commandant of the Depot at Albany Barracks in order that imminent distribution may be made to the several soldiers entitled to have them, conformable to a General Order dated 30 October 1807.

I have to respectfully request as I feel most desirous to show the utmost Deference and Obedience to your Honors Order in every part of my duty – that your Honors will be pleased to inform me if I am so pay £71 – 4 – 0, the amount of the Reward in question to Colonel Mainwaring as desired in the letter, or to withhold this sum to await your pleasure. [The Board Ordered that payment should be made.]


4 May 1819                   John Clark holding a Deputation from your Honors dated 7 May 1813 and Walter Daish holding a similar one dated 8 March 1816, Deputed Mariners on the Stork Cutter having been paid off at Leith by Lieut. George Mills, Commander of the said Cutter, at their own Solicitations (a months notice being first given), Clark & Daish on their return to Cowes have this day voluntarily and properly delivered to us their respective Deputations, which we shall tomorrow forward in a Parcel to your Honors.

But as it appears to us to be evidently irregular to discharge Men from the Service whether under Admiralty control or otherwise with Commissions in their Pockets and the surrender of them to depend on their own Inclination or Integrity.

We would respectfully submit for your Honors consideration if some representation should be made to the Admiralty against discharging any person from a Cutter of Vessel under Admiralty Order holding a Commission without first requiring the surrender of the Commission or Deputation & then to transmit the same to the Officers of the Port where it was originally taken up & Bond entered into by the party.


4 May 1819                   The Searcher, Mr Waller, having a Friend in a dangerous state of illness has a desire of attending at some distance from this Port.

He humbly prays your Honors will be pleased to grant him a months leave of absence from Saturday the 8 which we have no objection to offer as one of the Landing Waiters will be ready to execute the duty.

He has not had leave of absence from your Honors since he has been in office now 7 Years.


13 May 1819                 We transmit inclosed an application from Mr Francis Tide Surveyor of Customs at this Port praying your Honors permission for an allowance to be made to him and his Boatman for going to Fishbourne Creek when called on to Admeasure ships at the Building Yard when being launched for the purpose of procuring a Certificate of Registry, on which we report that we consider the attendance of this Officer on the Duty to which he refers indispensable and necessary viz. admeasuring ships and vessels at Fishbourne to be Registered at this Port must form a part of his special Duty and as such is an accommodation to Parties not being within this Port and who are desirous of remunerating the Tide Surveyor and his Boatman for their trouble. The Application of the Tide Surveyor for an allowance on this extra service at nearly 5 Miles distance, to which your Honors may think him and his Boatman entitled.


18 May 1819                 As directed by your Order of yesterday requiring an account of all Corn Grain and Flour Imported to be laid before the Honorable the House of Commons distinguishing the Quantities which have been warehoused. Enclosed we transmit the account for this Port.


19 May 1819                 It appears by the Tidesurveyors report that at times he does incur some little expence at a Public House for Refreshment, but not regularly so. The only Travelling allowance he solicits is for admeasuring Ships and Vessels built at Wootton Bridge, for London and distant Ports. Those to be registered at Cowes he asks no allowance for.


21 May 1819                 Robert Thompson having taken up his Commission as a Boatman in the St Lawrence Preventive Boat. Inclosed we transmit his Bond for the due Execution of his Duty (with two Sureties whom we deem sufficient in responsibility) to be registered as the Law directs. [Sureties were – Robertson, Boat Builder and Walter Daish, Victualler, both of Cowes.]


22 May 1819                 The circumstances of this case were made known to us soon after the Seizure and it being admitted by Captain Lister of the Resolution Cutter in this Office that his people could not have made the Seizure (Two only being on the shore) without the cooperation of the St Lawrence Preventive Boat – We recommended an equal distribution of the Proceeds of the Seizure between the Resolution Cutters’ Crew and the Crew of the Customs Preventive Boat and which with submission to your Honors we now think the proper and just mode of rewarding the parties interested.


24 May 1819                 We have to report for your Honors Information that on Friday the 20 Inst. Mr James Lister, Commander of the Resolution Excise Cutter, delivered to our Custody for Prosecution a large open Lugsail Boat called the Fly of Cowes with 37 small Casks containing 136 Galls foreign Prohibited Brandy and 59 small Casks containing 215 Galls foreign prohibited Geneva which his Deputed Mariner William Young seized for having been thereon about 4 Miles from Rocken End, a point on the South part of the Isle of Wight

In the Fly were three Smuglers viz. James Simmons, William Linnington and Isaac Kingswell. On Saturday 22 Inst, the Collector lodged his Complaint against these Offenders before a Bench of Magistrates assembled at Newport, who on the oath of the Captain ordered them to be committed to Prison under the Enactment 57 Geo 3 Ch 87 to abide by your Honors directions for their further prosecution and disposal.

Simmons, Linnington and Kingswell are robust, healthy Men and apparently Seamen, and the former was fined £100 in December last for bring found on board the Fanny Lugsail Boat with 193 small Casks of Spirits – prosecuted by the Excise and thereon entered into a Recognisance in the Penalty of £300 not to Smuggle again in three years conformable to the Act 50 Geo 3 3 Ch 62 Sect.

This is a Man besides being a most daring Smugler had been known to be guilty of various Poaching Offences which the Magistrates desired the Collector to signify to your Honors to the end that such proceedings may be had against him – and may secure the Revenue and the Estates of Individuals from repetition of his Offence. As there will be a Session of the Magistrates next Saturday, an early Order for our Government is respectfully suggested.


31 May 1819                 In obedience to your Order of 26 inst. directing James Simmons, William Linnington and Isaac Kingswell smugglers captured by the Resolution Excise Cutter in a Smuggling Boat called the Fly to be conveyed on board a Man of War. We report that the Gaoler at Newport conveyed the men to the Queen Charlotte Flag Ship at Portsmouth on Friday last to be impressed into the Navy and that Isaac Kingswell only was detained, the other two being unfit for the Service. Simmons and Linnington being rejected, the Magistrates on Saturday last proceeded to Judgement and convicted each on the Penalty of £100 and the Parties not being able to pay have since been sent to Winchester Gaol. [The Gaoler later sent a Bill for £3 – 7 – 0]


5 June 1819                   The Petitioners James Simmons and William Linnington together with Isaac Kingswell were captured on the 20 May last by Captain Lister Commander of the Resolution Cutter in a Boat called the Fly with 97 Casks of foreign Prohibited Spirits as reported to your Honors on 24 and 31 May last.

We have every reason to believe from the Parties not being able to pay the Penalties imposed on them that they are in indigent Circumstances and if your Honors approve – they may be paid by the Collector, Southampton the usual allowance made under 53 Geo Ch 21. Southampton being the nearest Port to Winchester.


11 June 1819                 Robert Hicks Esq., Lord of the Manor at Freshwater on which a Watch and Boat House has been built pursuant to your Orders having applied to us for the payment of the years Rent £5 (as agreed on) and due 5 April 1819. We request your Honors Special Directions for the payment of the Rent in Question.


22 June 1819 (Extract)               In obedience to your command signified by Mr Secretary Lushington’s Letter of 19 Inst. on the Resolution of the House of Commons passed 10 Inst. for repealing the Duties of Customs & Excise in Great Britain on Tea, Tobacco, Snuff, Coffee, Cocoa, Nuts & Pepper, &c. &c. &c. We submit that the paramount charge of all Ships and Cargoes arriving from Foreign Ports whether brought to Anchor in the Roadstead or Harbour shall be vested with the Customs Department and shall so remain with them till the Masters Report be made as hereafter will be suggested & Entry Papers for such Excisable Articles as may be on board – when the Customs Charge and Responsibility for such Goods shall cease.

That the Masters Report in all cases whether the cargo consists of Excisable Articles or a mixed Cargo of Customs and Excisable Articles shall in the first Instance be made at the Customs before the Collector & Comptroller as required by 13 & 14 Chas 2 Ch 11, the necessity of which is become stronger from the several provisions 45 Geo 3 Ch 10 (Quarantine Act), 55 Geo 3 Ch 153 (Letter Act) and 56 Geo 3 Ch 86 (Alien Act) ……


28 June 1819                 On an Application from Emanuel Shiner, Samuel Barton and Peter Dyer praying release from Winchester Goal.

The names of the Parties are familiar to us as notorious Smuglers belonging to the Island, but we are not in possession of particulars of the transaction which consigned them to Prison, the Petitioners having been prosecuted at the Instant of the Excise.


12 July 1819                  A more notorious systematic Smuggler than the Petitioner James Callaway does not exist on the Isle of Wight or in any part of the Kingdom. He smuggled three years ago in a Vessel call the Budd of this Port but finding that he had been informed against he contrived to get some repairs done in Cherbourg and in connection with a French band of Contraband Traders obtained a French Register under the name La Phoebe and to this day carries on his nefarious practices – The Sea Flower being under 15 Tons she is we submit under the pale of the 5 Resolution of your Honors General Order 25 July 1817 and should be excluded from all indulgences. It has been a customary practice with our Isle of Wight Smuglers many years when they find we endeavour to thwart their illicit intentions, they go to Portsmouth and swear themselves resident at that Port.


19 July 1819                  The Tidesurveyors’ Boat being in want of a lugsail the present one having been in use Ten Years and is quite worn out. He humbly requests your Honors will be pleased to direct another be supplied him and for which an Estimate is now sent.


3 August 1819               In obedience to your Order of 6 ultimo directing steps be taken for erecting Watch and Boathouses at Shanklin or for hiring a Cottage which Captain Shortland, the Comptroller General in his Report to the Lords of the Treasury states may be engaged at £15 per annum Rent, we report that from a survey made by the Collector of the situation, we are of the opinion that the Cottage is in every way objectionable for the purpose required Viz. that accommodating a Boat Crew with Sleeping Births. In as much as this said Cottage is situated in the centre of a cliff surrounded by Smuggler Habitations making it thereby Impossible for any Revenue Officer of Boatman to withdraw himself from the Cottage without being Watched and Noticed by the very people whose Actions the Preventive Boats’ Crew are intended to have eyes on.

A very eligible site for the building of a Watch and Boathouse however presents itself on some wasteland connected with the shore at Shanklin, but as no tenure certain can be obtained in it beyond 14 years, it is incumbent on us ere proceeding further in the Negotiations to submit to your honours Mr White’s (the Lord of the Manor) offer of terms to be found in the inclosed letter. Mr White is about 40 years old, his lady some years younger and both in good health so that in case your Honours should agree to hid proposals for a first lease for 14 years the chances we humbly present are much in the Crowns favour for the renewal of such a term. (There is no land at Shanklin more desirable for putting a Watch House than Mr White’s.)   


6 August 1819               The three Blue Houses used by the Waterside Officers on the Wharfs at this Port at Landing and Shipping Cargoes / all of which are 40 years old / being in want of repair. Inclosed we transmit the Landing Surveyor’s Report of their present state – with a Carpenters Estimate for repairing them, amounting to £9 – 17 – 2 and we humbly submit to your Honors the expediency of causing the Repairs to be done while the fine weather continues – the Officers having frequent occupation of these Houses in Autumn and Winter.


3 September 1819          The Petitioner Geo. Beazley is not known to us a reputed Smugler. He has for the last 12 months past often obtained Sufferance at this Office for the conveyance of Butchers Hides and other Goods from Cowes to Southampton & Portsmouth in the Wherry now under Seizure.

And from Enquiries we have made as to the reality of his being on a Fishing pursuit in June last as set forth in his Petition, we believe that he states the Facts as set forth in his Petition – His security is Mr Ellis, a respectable Grocer and Tax Gather at Ryde and we should think not likely to be bound for Beazley his Neighbour is he knew him to be a Contraband Trader.


3 September 1819          James Wells the Petitioner having prefaced his Appeal to your Honors with and audacious falsehood by stating he was in the Boat when seized, when by his confession after Seizure to us he pretended to establish the fact he knew nothing of her being out of Port. The people being on board as follows.

Isaac Wells, Petitioners Brother, Isle of Wight, Geo. Coleman, Wm. Brennan, Wm. Spurn, Portsmouth, Wm. Hewitt, Hill head, all Smuglers and the last very recently cleared from the Hulks as a Convict we trust will give him no claim to your Honors clemency. Further he was told at the time of the Boat being brought to our custody must apply to your Honors for Restoration and not choosing so to do & the Boat having been broken up under your Honors Order 26 May we submit his Petition is too late for consideration. Add to which his Security for Licence John Bullen, Shoemaker of St Helens who we have heard that the Duck, the Boat in question, had been suspected of Smugling expressed his satisfaction at the Boat being Seized for not having her Licence on Board.


28 September 1819        In obedience to your Honors Order of the 25 Inst. for the transmission of an account of the Officers and Clerks and their services in the Warehousing Department at this Port. We now transmit the same and have to report in relation to Mr Richard Cass, the Warehouse Keeper that as the Bonding Business at this Port will hereafter be principally confined to the Articles of Timber with accidental Importations of Wines, Spirits and Store, we conceive his Services may be dispensed with, the £100 per annum Allowance being more than adequate Reward for the duty he has done since his appointment – And we would submit for your Honors approval & recommendation from the double motive of saving unnecessary expense and rewarding another faithful Servant of your Honors that the duty of Warehouse Keeper for Bonded Goods be hereafter given to the Collector’s Chief Clerk, a situation now held by Mr William Smith, 42 years of Age and has been 27 Years in the Service receiving only £120 per annum with such additional salary for such additional duty as may seem appropriate to your Honors.


9 October 1819              The increase of Smugling in the District with the great resort at this time to Cherbourg by Vessels and Boats belonging to the Isle of Wight and from various other Ports on the coast of Hants not having the reputation of Systematic Smugling giving us cause to believe that many of them are tempted thereto by the very low prices at which Geneva & Brandy may now be had viz. 3/6 and 4/6 per Gall and to hazard the running of such articles under the sheltering of the people engaged in such Enterprises under your Honors General Order 16 May 1816 which says if any one detains good liable to Seizure and delivers them to a Commissioned Officer for Prosecution he shall be entitled to 2/3rds of the Officers Share – and under the plausible excuse they always set up if intercepted by a Revenue Cruizer that they picked up the Goods floating and were conveying them to the next Custom House.

We are induced to submit to your Honors the expediency of making a reduction in the Reward promised in said Order believing as we do that it has had a very different tendency and Effect to what your Honors expected.

To exemplify our reasoning we submit a Calculation of the profit that a Fisherman or Pilot who might choose to venture to Cherbourg for 100 Tubs of Spirits would gain on bringing them safe to a Commissioned Officer.

100 Casks Brandy or Geneva Quantity 375 Galls purchased at Cherbourg at 4/0 pg


375 Galls 20 percent under proof being the medium of the Reward on which at 18/9 per gallon will be

£351 – 11 – 3

The Commissioned Officer Moiety who received the Goods after deductions will be

£158 – 4 – 0

The Bringer of the Goods 2/3 share

£105 – 2 – 4

The Bringer or Smuglers net profit of 100 Casks



4 November 1819           Credible information having been given us the English Smugglers at this time purchase in the Ports of France Brandy – 3/6 per gallon, Geneva from 3/0 to 3/6. The Rewards to Officers for seizing which are on Brandy per gallon of proof strength £1 – 3 – 5 and Geneva £1 – 2 – 0. We are from a sense of Duty to submit to your Honors the monstrous disproportion of Rewards to the intrinsic value of the article fully believing that while the Reward System continue, no Preventive force can check the temptation which presents itself. A Smuggler buying 100 casks of Spirit in France at the rate quoted would gain on delivery to the Customs 2/3rd of the Officers share amounting to nearly £50.

Postscript.        The Regulations which enjoin Officers of Customs making Seizures to carry them to the Excise for prosecution is fraught – we conceive with evil – to the Order – that should be maintained in this Service – as it weakened the authority and control Collectors and Comptrollers should have over their Officers – many of them they never see – except when they appear to receive pay – and does not by any means cement a better or stronger union – or good understanding with the Excise than before existed.


8 November 1819           As directed by your Order of the 5 Inst. to report why a return had not been made to the Order of 11 Sept. directing us to cause an advertisement sent in the said Letter together with a plan & specification of an intended Watch & Boat House to be built at Shanklin to be inserted in the Provincial Papers and therefrom to forward to your Honors such Estimates as may be tendered for building the same. We have to state that neither the form of Advertisement alluded to Plan or Specification was ever received at this Office.

The Collector conceiving that the Plan & Specification were not ready when the Letter of 11 Sept. was transmitted & that the delay in receiving the form of Advertisement might possibly be attributed thereto – about a month since appraised Mr Laing, your Honors Surveyor they were not come to hand. In this interval we have at the desire of Mr White, the Lord of the Manor of Shanklin, attended him to the spot and marked out the limits of the Watch & Boat House so that at the moment your Honors decision on the Estimates is made the Building can be proceeded with.


11 November 1819         On a most extraordinary application of the Landing Surveyor, I have to report on my Honor and Word as a Gentleman, that when I obtained your Honors Leave in May last to be absent about a month on my private affairs – He voluntarily (and as I considered truly Friendly) offered to officiate for me as Comptroller, during my absence and further on my thanking him he observed having little to do it would be amusement for him.

From the period of my return, 29 May to last Saturday, the 6 November, no claim verbal or written was ever made on me by Mr Thorold for officiating for me, or posting my books in the way he sets forth.

During my absence he received 2 pounds as a Commissioner for executing three Writs of Appraisement & had I been sent on Special Service the difference of Salary between my Salary and his the one £266 – 13 – 4 and the other £250 agreeable to your Honors Order of 24 June 1817 would only have been 13/11 which sum in case your Honors should think I ought to pay him I am ready so to do. [Letter was written by Isham Chapman, Comptroller and endorsed by the Collector, John Ward.]

1817 - 1818

1819 - 1820

Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009