Collector to Board Letters Book 1819 - 1820


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/32, 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


 13 November 1819        From the enquiries we have made, it appears satisfactorily to us that neither William Davies & George Ryder were in the Davies Boat at the time of Capture. They are both in indigent circumstances and not likely to be delivered from the Gaol if their liberation depended on the payment of money. We have no proof or information of either the one or the other having been prosecuted before for an offence against the Revenue and we learn from the Testimony of one of our Land Guard that Ryder at times has offered him Information of material service to the Revenue.


16 November 1819        On the Application of Mr James Snudden, Riding Officer 2nd Class for your Honors permission to make the village of Whitwell his residence instead of Niton to which he was directed to remove in consequence of Mr Burtons suggestion by your Honors 7 October last. We report that as the distance is trifling (little more than a mile) and Whitwell being equally resorted by Smugglers like Niton we consider Whitwell eligible for his residence as the other place and as a horse cannot be had at Niton – we recommend Snuddens application to your indulgent consideration.


30 November 1819        Having in obedience to your Honors command of the 10th Instant to advertise in the Provincial Papers for Estimates to built a Watch and Boat House for the Preventive Service at Shanklin within this Port. Inclosed we transmit 8 tenders delivered to us yesterday conformable to the said advertisement.


30 November 1819        Yesterday the Brig William of London James Brown Master came on shore in Sandown Bay. In the event of her not getting off without discharging a part of her cargo Mr Robey, the Riding Officer of the 1st class being near the spot has instructions to superintend the landing of the Goods & to assist, in conjunction with the Shanklin Preventive Boat crew in securing the property and to send for more officers if necessary.


3 December 1819          The Boat in question has marked on her stern “Le Jubilee” and within the transom George Cooper.

If a man is so ridiculous and unpatriotic as to give a french name to an boat he ought to pay for the folly. He ought to have marked on the stern George Cooper of Cowes agreeable to the Act 27 Geo 3 Ch 32.


11 December 1819        We have now six Preventive Boats within the limits of this Port, each of which has an Officer with a Deputation called Chief Boatman except the Freshwater Boat. By your Honors order of 19 September 1818, copy of which is on the back hereof, James Hannam was appointed Chief Boatman at the Station just mentioned but from some oversight his Deputation has not been furnished him. As Hannam has conducted himself in a proper active Manner we respectfully request your Honors to grant him the usual Deputation and that he may be paid Chief Boatmans salary from the 11th October 1818, the period of his commencing to act.

Chief Boatmans salary at £10 per annum. Difference at £5 per annum from

11th October 1818 to 10th October 1819, both days inclusive                                £5 – 0 – 0

From 11th October 1819 to 5th January ensuing.                                                   £1 – 5 – 0

                                                                                                                        £6 – 5 – 0


14 December 1819        In obedience to your Honors Order of the 9 Instant we sent the Draft of the Lease for a plot of Land at Shanklin belonging to Rev Walter Wright to build a Watch and Boat House for his approval and yesterday he returned the same with some written observations in objections but of very unmaterial Circumstances.

In our Treaty for this Plot it was understood that in case the Crown suffered the Tenure to expire that the building should devolve to the Lord of the Manor, should your Honors determine to surrender the Lease on the expiry of the 7 or 14 years covenanted for them, the Buildings are to be valued and Sold at Public Sale

As by your Order of 9 Instant the proceeding with the building appears to be dependant on the final approval of the Lease, Mr Moses, whose Tender was accepted for the erection of the Watch & Boat House will be told not to commence work till we receive your Honors further directions.

The weather being very favorable for digging the stones and casting the materials we respectfully expect an early order. The accommodation for the Boats Crew being much wanted.


14 December 1819        In our letter of 30 Ult. we reported to your Honors the accident to the William alluded to in the within application and that we had directed Mr Robey the First Class Riding Officer to assist in conjunction with the Shanklin Preventive Boats Crew in securing the property. – From the Representations of Mr Robey nearly the whole of the Cargo consisting of Fir Timbers, Oak Planks, and a Quantity of Deal Ends has been saved and secured in safety on the shore under these Officers Supervision and attendance – watching at Night as well as by Day nor withstanding the extreme severity of the Weather. As there will be considerable Claims of Salvage on the Property in Question we submit that the Quantities should be determined in the usual way by the Magistrates of the Isle of Wight agreeable to 12 Anne Ch 18 and 26 Geo 3 Ch 19 and the amount adjudged paid to the respective claimants on Security given to the Collector for such purpose prior to the Removal of any part of the Cargo from the Officers Custody where it now is – On the Adjudication of the Magistrates being afterwards submitted to your Honors with the different Items of Salvage your Honors will be able to judge what proportion of the Cargo it may be advisable to be sold Duty Free so as to meet the Spirit and Meaning of Mr Bovills application.


15 December 1819        In reference to your Order of 11 Inst. directing us to abstain from the Distribution of any Rewards or the Division of proceeds of any considerable Seizures of Spirits or other Articles where collusion can at all be suspected, made within the last six months.

We respectfully submit for your Honors Consideration if it may not be advisable in order to judge of the complexion of a Seizure and the Integrity of the Parties concerned therein, to call on the several Officers claiming Rewards to send a particular account of each Seizure stating where made if by information or otherwise and if by Information the proportion of the Reward the Officer intends to Pay the Informer whether by agreement or by what authority.

Further distinguishing those Seizures from others which have been brought to the Officers by Seafaring people, Pilots and other persons to be seized, and the Quantum or Proportion of the Reward to be paid to such Seafaring people, Pilots &c. and the authority for so doing so. It will obviously seem to you Honors that as the Preventive Waterguard Officers holding Deputations from the Honorable Board carrying their Seizures to the Excise pursuant to 57 Geo 3 Ch 67 most of the Explanations now suggest should now be removed from that Department, the majority of seizures having been made by Preventive Boats.


17 December 1819        In our report of 15 Inst. on the subject of Seizure Rewards. It is suggested that certain questions should be put to the Seizing Officers with a view of abstraction from them by explanation what sort of understanding may exist between Themselves, Informers & Persons bringing the Spirits & Goods to be seized for prosecution to Condemnation in the Exchequer.

And feeling from the frequency of Seizures made by the Preventive Officers of Spirits found floating and picked up by Pilots and Seafaring people if a conviction that no collusion exists – the rate of Reward payable to the Finder of the Goods is highly beneficial to the Public Revenue. We have on due consideration of the several circumstances and combined with the Smuglers first adventure to France for the purchase of Spirits and the Question of the Reward he expects from a Seizing Officer after throwing the Spirits into his possession – passed a set of interrogation which if your Honors would approve and deem fit to articulate we flatter ourselves may not only tend to correct the Abuses suspected but induce your Honors to recommend that sort of equitable Table of Rewards which may indemnify the Seizing Officer for their Excitations & Vigilance and be applicable to the present Rate of our Coast Guard, and the very low price of Spirits in France and Holland.

We further submit on the principal of the penal Statute 11 Geo 1 Ch 30 for Harbouring Prohibited Goods – That a Law should pass subjecting every Vessel to forfeiture found with prohibited goods on board – whether picked up or not – the giving high rewards to Persons not officers for bringing in Prohibited Goods – into the Kingdom acts in our humble opinion as a bonus on Smugling and for securing an Article (Spirits) intrinsically worth very little – independent of the Duties – should the finder take them on board his Vessel, he should do so at his peril.


19 December 1819        Yesterday a French Schooner – called L’Elise – from Morlaix bound to Dunkirk – Laden with Brandy, Wine, Butter and Clover Seeds was wreck’d in tempestuous weather near Boat Haven – on the South West part of the Isle of Wight. The Atherfield & Freshwater Preventive Boats Crews immediately repaired to the accident to give assistance and the Controller with some trusty Tidesmen are also gone to the Spot – to aid – in preserving the property – and to prevent Pillage and Embezzlement.


22 December 1819        Your Order of 17 Oct. 1818 contained a Commission for James Hannam as Boatman in the Atherfield Preventive Boat which he now has. The 19 Sept 1818 by your Honors Order Hannam was promoted to Chief Boatman in a new Boat stationed at Freshwater and what he now solicits is a Commission for such appointment with the difference in Salary from 11 October 1818.


January 1820 (undated)              Imprest Xmas Quarter 1819

Establishment Salaries


£646 – 13 – 4

Lion Cutter


£443 – 6 – 8



£1080 – 0 – 0

Incident Salaries



Watchman Attandence



Boat Bills







£6 – 5


Coal Meterage



Capt. Worsley’s Expenses



Greenwich Ticket



Preventive Boat Bills

£52 – 15








Amount in the Kings Chest



To be Imprested




6 January 1820              We have to report the melancholy death of Mr Daniel French, Chief Officer of the Preventive Boat at Shanklin caused by a violent cold caught during his exertions and Night watching in salving and preserving the cargo of the Brig William wrecked at Sandown the 29 Nov. last as advised in our letter to your Honors 1 Dec.

Daniel French was a strong athletic Man 40 Years of Age and till his Death brought on by severity of the Frost and Bad Weather scarce knew, we are informed, what ill health was except by name.

He has left a Widow and seven Children in deep affliction and unprovided for except his eldest son, Daniel French, who since November last has been temporarily employed by the Inspecting Commander in his Fathers boat. – On the 28th December last we received £1075 – 4 – 4 Duties on the cargo of Timbers & Deals Salved, and we verily believe that the major part of this sum collected for the Revenue may be attributed to the Exertions of French and his Boats Crew and Riding Officers in watching and protecting the Good salved on an open and exposed shore in one of the most inclement Seasons in the Isle of Wight for many years – 20 Nights and Days at the end of which being seized with cold and cough on his chest he was obliged to take to his bed.


7 January 1820              We have today received Official Communication from Captain Worsley, Inspecting Commander of the Preventive Waterguard in this District that Mr Benjamin Dixon, Chief Officer of the Preventive Customs Boat stationed at St Lawrence died the 19 December Ult.


21 January 1820            In obedience to your command of yesterday we report that on receiving your minute of the 12th to transmit a Medical Certificate of Mr Thorold’s Health we immediately transmitted him an Order to furnish one. Not sending it to the Office as we expected, we sent for it a second time by Mr Alford the Land Waiter, who reported that his Health was somewhat better & that he hoped to be at the Custom House in a day or two if the weather improved. He had been extremely ill which is attested to us by the Landing Waiter above mentioned and Mr Smith the Collectors Clerk who has occasionally called on him, but he had acted negligently in not sending the Certificate required.


28 January 1820            Inclosed is an application from Mrs Hannah Dixon Widow of the late Benjamin Dixon Chief Officer of the Preventive Station at St Lawrence whose death was reported to your Honors in our letter of the 7th Inst. The Salary owed to the Widow is £3 – 0 – 4. The Inspecting Commander of the District having certified Dixon’s death to have happened on the 19th December 1819.


1 February 1820            Mr James Lister, Commander of the Resolution Revenue Cruizer having on the 30th ult. seized the Pilot vessel Daniel registered at Portsmouth laden with 74 small casks of Foreign Spirit of Shanklin on the south part of this Island which he has delivered into our custody for prosecution. And there being on board at the time Robert Caws, a Licensed Pilot under the Jurisdiction of Trinity House and Benjamin Osborne alias Osmond, he secured both and conveyed them yesterday before a Magistrate of Newport, who being satisfied of their agency in this smuggling transaction ordered both to the Custody of the Gaoler at Newport to abide your Honors instructions for their disposal on board a Man of War or prosecution for Penalties.

As it is the Custom of Magistrates on the Isle of Wight to assemble every Saturday for the dispatch of Judicial Business, we submit to your Honors, it is particularly desirable for us to receive your Determination regarding Caws and Osborne by return of post, as the removal of Smugglers to Portsmouth, on board the Flag Ship and back again, will occupy some time. The Daniel, 25 tons by Certificate of Registry, appears to be owned by Richard Matthews, another Licensed Pilot residing at Portsmouth, and Joseph Clewitt, a Gardener of the Isle of Wight and that a bond has been given for her running Bowsprit  in the Penalty of 340 by the said Matthews, James Adams and John Webb at the Customs, Portsmouth, 15 June 1815. From the enquiries we have caused, it is clear this capture has been made by the vigilance of the Commander of the Resolution Cutter and his crew without any aid from information and that it appears free from suspicion of collusion.


22 February 1820           As directed by your Order 18 Instant in relation to the Prosecution in the Exchequer of the Smack Daniel and the Spirits seized with her. We report that Robert Caws was proceeded against the 20 Inst by the Collector before the Magistrates at Newport for the Penalty of £100 having been rejected by the Commander of the Queen Charlotte Man of War as unfit for the Naval Service under the 3 Sect 59 Geo 3 Ch 121 and convicted therewith but not being able or willing to pay the said Sum the Justices committed said Caws to Prison until the said Penalty is paid.


22 February 1820           The Smack Daniel of Portsmouth (not Cowes) and the Goods seized with her to which the inclosed Petition alludes have been directed to be prosecuted in the Exchequer by your Order of the 18 Inst. Richard Matthews at the time of the Seizure was we understand confined to his House by illness and from the Enquiries we made we could not learn the other owner. Joseph Clewitt was privy thereto. It would have therefore submit been quite sufficient for the Petitioner to establish their non privity to the Transaction which has forfeited their vessel and not to have extended their remarks in explanation of Robert Caws and Benjamin Osmond against whom the Act of Smugling have been so strongly proved. That the former has been convicted by the Magistrates on the Isle of Wight under 59 Geo 3 Ch 121 in the Penalty of £100 and that the other Benjamin Osmond has been sent on board a Man of War, the Commander of which finding him fit and able has been impressed into H.M. Naval Service as the Law directs.


26 February 1820           Mr Cox’s health has been precarious these last 3 or 4 years and confining him at intervals to his House but when free from the acute pain of his complaint he has attended his Duty at Custom House and on the Quays. At the time of making up the Account of Officers Ages and Capabilities we knew Mr Cox to be ill but certainly not in a serious way as Mr Bowen, Medical Attendant of Himself and Family now describes him to be and therefore conceived it possible he might recover and return to his Duty which is the reason we did not make an exception to his ability and competency in the Annual Return. Mr Cox’s decay of bodily strength has been very rapid and the Controller who has seen him within these few days reports him much altered in appearance. [Cox was a Landing Waiter.]


29 February 1820           On the within application of Sir L W Holmes, Bart. on behalf of Robert Dove, one of the Sureties for the good conduct of the smack Eliza 17 Tons belonging to this Port – We report that the said Robert Dove voluntarily bound himself in conjunction with Philip Bright and Charles Bright owners of the said Vessel (she being liable to a Licence from your Honors on account of her Bowsprit) in the penal sum of £600 on 26 July last 1819. The owner proposed to employ the Vessel in dredging Oysters at Guernsey Jersey and Alderney and to convey passengers between Cherbourg & Havre de Grace but we have great reason to suspect these men have not confined their employ to their professions, it being said that the Eliza has successfully worked 2 of 3 cargoes of Contraband Spirits between the Wight & Christchurch.

Robert Dove is an Industrious hard working man and we believe has no participation in the illegal proceedings of the Brights but we are not aware there being any precedent of the kind before us in what way he can yet be released from his Bond.


1 March 1820                The Collector having received yesterday from the Justice’s Clerk of the Isle of Wight a Penalty of £100 levied on Robert Caws who was prosecuted before a Bench of Magistrates on the 12 Ult. under the Enactment 59 Geo 3 Ch 121 for being on board the Daniel Smack when detected in illicit Proceedings and which Vessel is directed by your Honors to be prosecuted in the Court of the Exchequer has been paid. 

He humbly begs to be informed if he is to pay to Mr James Lister Commander of the Resolution Cutter who captured this Man for himself and Crew the Moiety of the Penalty to which he lays claim under the 3 Section 57 Geo 3 Ch 87 or if he should remit the £100 to London and to what Office.


3 March 1820                In obedience to your Order of 1 Instant, we transmit the answers of Mr Henry Cox a Landing Waiter at this Port to the Superannuation questions given by him on oath this morning at his Dwelling House West Cowes.

And we feel it incumbent on us to report our regret at having failed in affording your Honors satisfaction on leaving out the annual return of Ages and Capabilities as regards the ability & competency of this Officer at Christmas last, but very much hope on the assurance we now give, that we shall be more cautious in future, and that the Service has in no way been prejudiced by the illness of Mr Cox which was regularly reported in the monthly list of absent Officers. That we shall stand excused in your Honors Estimation of a design to do wrong. It being ever our aim and wish to execute our Official Duties with fidelity and to merit your Honors approbation.


9 March 1820                A directed by your order of 4 inst. to submit estimates for Building a Boat for the Preventive Station at Freshwater. Inclosed we forward Three from respectable Boat Builders at this Port which have been delivered to us according to the respective date.

A Light four oared boat with Streachen Rudder, Wash Sheets and Complete:

            Length              24 feet

            Breadth             4 feet 10 inches

            Depth               2 feet 2 inches


13 March 1820               In obedience to your Order of 10 Instant and Mr Harrison’s from the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury dated 7th on the practice as to the charging Port Dues on French Vessels or Public Vessels in the Employ of that Government arriving at Ports in this Kingdom.

We report that if a French Transport were to arrive at Cowes to discharge English or Foreign Soldiers & their Baggage we should not subject such Transports to Tonnage Duty imposed by the 40 Sect. 59 Geo 3 Ch 52.

But the Collector in virtue of his Commission and Warrant from the Corporation of Trinity House, and his authority from the Ramsgate Trust, would consider himself bound in Justice to his Employers and in conformity with the Laws which enact the Collection of Light and other Dues as well as Pilotage under 56 Geo 3 Ch 39 to demand payment of the same Rates and amounts that a French Vessel of like Tonnage laden with Merchandize would pay entering the Harbour or Roadstead of Cowes.

By the 56 Geo 3 Ch 9 foreign Vessels used only for Pleasure are exempt from Customs Tonnage Duties and the French Government in return for the Indulgence admit our Private Yachts into their Ports generally without any charge of Tonnage Dues, subject nevertheless to some small charge for Port and Harbour Dues.

In no case has any demand been made within our Cognizance of Tonnage, Light or other Dues on a Vessel Bona fide owned by the French Government.

The private owners of such Vessels in their contract with Governments when letting a vessel of such description for hire take care to make as advantageous a bargain as they can for themselves and stipulating which parties shall bear their Expenses. It seems not unreasonable that the Transports in question should have been charged with Port and Pilotage Dues at Ostend.


27 March 1820               Information having just been received from the Chief Officer at Atherfield within the limits of this Port that the American Brig Bayard from Virginia to this Port for Orders laden with 336 hhd’s Tobacco got on shore near Atherfield at the South part of the Island at 2 o’clock this morning. The Comptroller has proceeded to the spot where the accident happened in order to superintend the discharge of the Cargo and direct and excite the Officers under him to vigilant attention in watching the Goods on the shore and protect them from Embezzlement.


29 March 1820               Having duly perused the copies of Instructions prepared for the Government of the Tidesurveyors and Tidewaiters at the several Outports, we hereby return the same conformable to your order and have to observe that we consider them fully comprehensive and well arranged for each Officers Duty. We have, however, to render Article No. 3 in the Tidesurveyors Instructions applicable to this and other Ports at which there are Roadsteads we suggest regarding ships from the East Indies laden with Rice, Sugar or Coffee and not having Teas or Silks on board with the saving of the expense of two Tidewaiters, two Officers of such description being in our opinion fully adequate of guarding and protecting such cargos. We have also to suggest that Slates coastwise should be added should be added to the goods for tally by the Coastwaiter.


7 April 1820                   The Petitioner John Webb was made Master of the Neptune Pilot Vessel at this Port 2544/94 Tons the 22 October 1818 and from the Information we receive has continued Master from that time – we do not learn or do we believe he was privy to the Smugling Transactions of the Daniel – The Daniel is registered at Portsmouth at which Port John Webb entered into his Licence Bond being at that time Master of the Daniel.


7 April 1820                   The within Petition is similar in tenor and substance to the one presented to your Honors 18 February which we reported 22nd of the same month and nothing new having come to our knowledge since respecting the transaction or Parties we beg leave to leave to refer your Honors to the copy adjoined – we having as directed by your Honors Order 2 last acquainted Matthews and Clewitt that you abided by your Order of 2 February for the prosecution of the said Vessel Daniel. [A further Petition was received on the 17th June.]


8 April 1820                   In obedience to your Honors General Order of 24 March last directing us to return such Writs of Assistance as were in use at this Port prior to the Demise of his late Majesty, we have accordingly transmitted to your Honors – Two by the Mail Coach enclosed in a parcel containing the Monthly Accounts.


10 April 1820                 We have to report to your Honors the Death of Mr Henry Cox a Landing Waiter on the establishment at this Port which took place this morning.

And in obedience to your injunction contained in the General Letter of 26 August 1817 and in conformity to the tenor of the more recent one of 16 Ult. touching the state of Business at this port and the number of Officers employed, we feel it our conscientious Duty to report to your Honors that from the paucity of Business at Cowes in the Waterside Department and the little probability of increase, there does not appear in our judgement – any necessity for filling up the vacancy occasioned by Mr Cox’s Death. The complement now of the Waterside Office viz. the Land Surveyor, the Landing Waiter and the Searcher who is also assistant Landing Waiter being fully adequate to any employ that has offered itself for their Service for some Years or that any inordinate increase may require of them.


15 May 1820                 In obedience to your Honors Order of 9 Instant we have perused the Copies of Instructions of the Landing Surveyor, Landing Waiter, Searcher and Coastwaiters at the Several Out Ports sent down and herewith return the same. The Material of the whole in our judgement appears to be very good and plainly intelligible for the respective officers conduct and guidance. We are however induced from local peculiarities to inform us if the Coastwaiter Mr John Roach whose more immediate duty is at West Cowes and whose representation is included will be required every morning in Summer at 6 o’clock and in Winter at 8 o’clock to cross the Ferry Passage to East Cowes for the sole purpose of entering his name in an appearance book? We also respectfully request to be informed if the other Waterside officers will be required to conform strictly to the Injunction of the 1st Article of their Instructions as regards the signing of the appearance book when no Ships or Vessels are shipping or unloading Goods and when their Services might not be particularly required in any way so early in the morning. – It humbly appearing to us that when the presence of these officers is not absolutely wanted before Breakfast. That it would be quite sufficient for the purpose of the Public Service to permit the Landing Surveyor, Searcher and Landing Waiter signed their appearance book at the hour of commencing of Official Business in the Long Room above stairs subject to the Orders of the Collector and Comptroller for Attendance at earlier hour if special occurrence of Business require it. It is far from our desire to suggest any relaxation, that may tend to tend to weaken the proper Execution of their proper Duty but a Number of Waterside officers at Out Ports by reason of their small Salaries are necessitated to live at distances from the Custom House. – It would be considered by them to be a liberal and kind Indulgence to them if your Honors were pleased to permit them to sign the Appearance Book at the commencement of Long Room Business when their Services were not actually required earlier. The operation and expediency of which must always be within the cognisance of the collector and Comptroller.


24 May 1820                 On the within application from Mr Day we report that the sale of L’Elise’s Cargo took place on the 18 Instant conformable to an advertisement in the Public Papers and Handbills as to the copy inclosed.

Your Honors Order of 16 Instant for permitting apportion of the Cargo to the amount of £269 – 9 – 6 to be sold duty free to defray salvage did not reach us till 19 May the day after the sale, but we now understand from the Persons present at the Auction that Notice was given by Mr Day Agent to the Master in anticipation of your Honors Order before granted. That two pieces of Brandy could be put up for Sale Free of Duty subject to the Order of your Honors and the same sold for £266 agreeable to a statement below.

Lot 155 Piece Brandy 136 gal 20/- per gal           £136

Lot 156 Piece Brandy 130 gal 20/- per gal           £130



26 May 1820                 Richard Togood, is owner of the Mary Ann Vessel of this Port by Indorsement on the Certificate of Registry 12 Nov. 1813. The Mary Ann is suspected of Smugling and the obvious reason of Togood going to Weymouth to get a Licence is because he is conscious we would not get one thorough this Custom House. This man is connected with a Person of the name of Jacob Long of Yarmouth and the owner of a Smack called the James and Eleanor of Weymouth, all notorious Smuglers.


26 May 1820                 The Dove Open Boat belonging to James Butt a notorious Smugler living at St Helens on this Island. She was about 2 years ago after Condemnation in the Exchequer sold by the Excise as a Boat not liable to Licence. The length being 24 feet & not exceeding 25 feet, her planks ¾ inch thick, her timbers 1¼ inch square pursuant to the Act 20 Geo 3 Ch 31, 32 Geo 3 Ch 3 & 35 Geo 3 Ch 9.


30 May 1820                 We perfectly concur in the statements and warnings of the Officers at Portsmouth for not allowing Mr Gibson a wine Merchant residing at Gosport to ship Wines in Cowes Roadstead or Yarmouth Roads on board ships bound for Foreign Parts for the consumption of Army Officers. The granting of such an indulgence would be a total oversight of the limits of the Ports of Portsmouth and Cowes as defined by a Commission from the Exchequer in the year 1789 and would also we have no doubt open the door to fraudulent practice.

The Officers embarking from Albany Barracks for foreign Stations get as good Wines from Wine Merchants in the Isle of Wight on Drawback and with as much facility as it is possible for Mr Gibson to supply them with, who it is obviously very much more in the interest of his own Wine Trade in his appeal to your Honors than solicited for the comfort of Officers.


12 June 1820                 Benjamin Osmond of the Smugling Vessel Daniel having been removed from the Queen Charlotte Man of War to the Gaol at Newport pursuant to your Orders 27 May last. The Collector had him conveyed on Saturday last before a Bench of Justices who had previously committed him to Prison to be proceeded against agreeable to the Act of 59 Geo 3 Ch 121 Sec 3 and he having prayed their judgement on the said offender they were pleased to signify that under the circumstances of Osmond being received on board the Queen Charlotte Man of War in February last as fit and able to serve his Majesty and kept there till 30 May Ult. that his Offence could not be cognizable by the Magistrates a second time and therefore ordered the Gaoler to discharge him from his Custody.

We feel it incumbent on us to report for your Honors Information that about six weeks ago not on the plea of illness or debility – Osmond by his Solicitor at Portsmouth obtained a Writ of Habeas Corpus to prevent his sailing to the West Indies in the Vigo Man of War and that it appears to us that his illness complained of happened subsequent to the grant of Habeas Corpus and about three months after being received on board the Queen Charlotte as fit and able to serve – Osmond should have been sent to Haslar Hospital to there be treated like other sailors labouring under casual complaints instead of being discharged from the Service.

The motive of the application for Habeas Corpus was to enable Osmonds Solicitor to contend at a future time the legality of the Magistrates conviction.


19 June 1820                 Your Honors having signified to us that the Lords of the Treasury have been pleased to abolish the situation of Landing Waiter held by the late Henry Cox at this Port. We respectfully submit as Mr Cox was directed by your Honors order 31 January 1809 to execute the Duty of Controlling Searcher also that you will be pleased to order also Mr James Alford the present Landing Waiter to the duty of Controlling Searcher with his own and that it may be noted on the establishment of this Port.  


22 June 1820                 William Gregory placed on the Superannuation List by your Honors 15 January 1807 at £20 per annum. The allowance being insufficient to maintain him the Guardians of the House of Industry on the Island on his own application have agreed to receive him into the House victual and board him at £12 per annum. The legality of assigning a portion of his Superannuation money for such purpose is respectfully submitted.


7 July 1820                   In submitting the observation as to the legality of the assignment of Superannuation Money, we did not mean to refer to any particular Act and not having it in my power so to do, but what induced us to make the remark was a recollection of the report of a cause tried in the Court of the Kings Bench many years ago wherein an Officer of the Army has assigned over half his Pay to a Creditor for a debt wherein the Judge directed a Non Suit (Lord Kenyon or Lord Ellenborough we believe) on the grounds that a person receiving an annual Reward from the Government for Services rendered could not sell of assign the same to a creditor. How far the grant of a Superannuation allowance comes within such is respectfully submitted.


12 July 1820                  Annexed is the Sitter, Mr Jeatts’ explanation of the circumstances attending the Seizure in question, and in the belief that the whole is a matter of fact, we are of the opinion Caws and his Party are not entitled to as much as £37 offered them in the first instance by Jeatt, such a sum being the net third of the Reward received by the Sitter.

As, however, in conformity to the 2nd Sect. 57 Geo 3 Ch 87 and your Honors Order 25 May 1819 – the Prosecution of all Seizures made by Preventive Boat Officers and Crews, is carried on by the Excise, and the Rewards due thereon paid by that Department, we humbly submit the application of Caws should have gone to the Excise; Though Jeatt holds a Commission from your Honors, and who ought in consequence be subject to your Honors exclusive Authority in every part of his Duty, as an Officer of the Customs, and of his receiving rewards from Seizures, and of which we are now kept in the dark. The system of Officers of Customs carrying their Seizures to the Excise for Prosecution and Excise Cutters bringing their Seizures to Customs for the like object is, we respectfully submit is productive of no good effect whatever; but on the contrary creates disorder in the management of the Customs and weakens the control this Department should have over its particular Officers.


12 July 1820                  Inclosed is an application from William Warder, a Tidewaiter on the Establishment at this Port, who prays, on account of his age, length of Service and Inability, that he may be placed on the Superannuation List.

William Warder has always conducted himself with propriety in the Service, and being now of Great Age, the prayer of his application is respectfully submitted.


13 July 1820                  The Quantity of Coals on the Jane’s Cocket dated Sunderland the 16th Ult. was 59 Chaldrons Newcastle Measure. When the sworn Meter Benjamin Brown had delivered 124 Chaldrons Winchester Measure, which was double the Quantity of the Cocket with an allowance also of 5 per cent, we directed in pursuance of your Honors Orders, particularly the recent one of the 19th Ult. that the excess of 3 Chaldrons 27 Bushels should be seized.


15 July 1820                  In obedience to your General Order 16 March last on the Charges of Management of this Port, the state of its Business and Trade and the Possibility of Reduction or Discontinuance of any of the appointments.

We report that the Business here has had very little variation since our General Return for three years transmitted to your Honors 21 February last, the average of which may be considered a Criterion of its extent, most of the Articles of Foreign Product and Growth being brought Coastwise from distant Ports. The direct Transportations consist of Timber from the Baltic, Provisions from Ireland, and a variety of Foreign Merchandize casually landed from distressed and wrecked Ships, and Goods out of the Warehouse landed by Baggage or Special Warrants on the arrival of Ships and Passengers from foreign parts as will be seen by the Waterside Officers’ respective Accounts accompanying this.

The Number of Officers employed will be found in the Sheet Marked A [Not included in Book.] with our opinion in the Column of observations as to the Necessity of continuance of all the Officers except two, and with reference to them we have specially to state that since the Bankruptcy of Mr James Dennett, the proprietor of the Bonded Premises about Two years ago, no goods have been warehoused at this Port under the Regulations 43 Geo 3 Ch 132 so as to require any Services from the Warehouse Keeper, Mr Richard Cass, who has a Salary of £400 per annum; we have accordingly conceived it our Duty to recommend the transfer of Mr Cass to some other Warehousing Department, or that he may be otherwise provided for, and that the Prospective Duties of Warehouse Keeper may be delegated to the Collectors Chief Clerk as suggested in our letter to your Honors 28 Sept 1819. Mr Robey Eldridge a Timber Merchant of this place having lately purchased the Bonded Premises in question, and who intends soon to avail of the Privilege granted.

A Preventive Boat being now stationed permanently at Sconce Point near Yarmouth, the Duty of which is to watch Yarmouth Roadstead as well as the vicinity of that Creek, the Office of Boatman held by Mr Robert Willis at a Salary of £5 per annum and 2/6 per day, and was fixed in that place many years ago to prevent Smuggling, is now become, we conceive, useless, and we therefore submit that the Office may be discontinued and Mr Robert Willis, who is an old deserving officer, may be placed on the Superannuation List, which Two are the only appointments at present we feel justified in recommending the change and reduction in.

The amount of Tradesmen’s Bills and all other Incidental Charges for the present half year is £43 – 5 – 11 in the preceding half £92 – 18 – 2 marking a decrease of £49 – 12 – 3.


17 July 1820                  In obedience to your commands on the increase of Expenses which has taken place at this Port from the attendance given by Coastwaiters at Creeks distant more than three miles, we have to explain that the Craves for the Coastwaiters (viz. Charles Leigh, stationed at Yarmouth and Robert Lydall, stationed at Ryde) attendance have been made under your Honors orders, copies of which are enclosed, and that in no case has any account or crave been submitted to your Honors for payment but on our being satisfied from due enquiry that the Officers Bona fide gave their attendance and the period and places specified in the accounts transmitted Quarterly.

We are not aware that less attendance can be given by these respective Coastwaiters at distances from their stations. If your Honors deem it absolutely necessary that they shall have ocular proof of the Packages and Descriptions of the Goods shipped and brought Coastwise but in reference to our original proposition we respectfully submitted to your Honors on 20 January 1816 (copy inclosed) for compensating an Officer for executing extra Coast Duty at Newtown and Shalfleet, distant four miles from Yarmouth, we beg to observe had it been approved £29 – 15 – 0 would have been saved in the last four years, the craves for Mr Charles Leighs attendance in that time having amounted to £69 – 15 – 0 whereas the annual allowance of £10 would have amounted to £40.

Persuaded we feel that it would be a saving to the Crown if your Honors were pleased to allow Messrs. Charles Leigh and Robert Lydall certain allowances instead of craving their compensation Quarterly for executing the extra Coast Duty allocated to them, we humbly recommend for your Honors approval that the Coastwaiter at Yarmouth in addition to his established salary of £60 per annum for doing Coast Business at his Station be allowed an incidental salary of £10 per annum for performing the extra Duty at a distance and that Mr Robert Lydall is £80 at present should receive an additional £15 per annum, the places being more and the distance greater than Mr Leigh’s at Yarmouth, which will make his salary £95, a sum by no means too much for the duty he has to execute.


17 July 1820                  It does not appear William Warder has had recourse to a medical man for advice and medicines but from his statement annexed he has been taking Essence of Mustard and other Recipes for the Rheumatism. He had been employed in the last 12 months 183 days; but we consider him too old efficiently to cope with a Smuggler, or keep strict watch on a Ship’s Deck by Night all weathers the good of the Service requires. [He was subsequently placed on the Superannuation List.]


22 July 1820                  In requiring Estimates conformable to your order, Mr John Robertson a respectable Boat Builder at this place informs us, that by direction of Capt. Worsley Inspecting Commander of the District, he reduced lately one of the Eight-Oared Galleys at the cost stipulated in the annexed Estimate, and that she is now in every way fit for the Service.

We apprehend the Order given by Capt. Worsley for this boat was premature, arising from correspondence with Capt. Shortland as there was no previous communication with us on the subject.


29 July 1820                  Your Honors having directed by Order 13 June last that the seizing officer William Scamp should receive Two Thirds Reward of the Value of the Seizure in question viz. 34 Casks Spirits, and such Order, we presume, being grounded on the Capture of the Boat, as without it the Seizing Officer would only have been entitled, by the Act 56 Geo 3 Ch 104, to a Moiety of the Rate of the Rewards, we humbly submit, that the Chief Officer of the Preventive Boat at Yarmouth, in consequence of his having captured the Boat (which was also ordered for prosecution) is entitled to the difference between a Moiety and Two Thirds of the rewards on the Spirits that may hereafter be payable to William Scamp.


23 August 1820             On the night of the 21st Inst. a violent Gale of Wind came on from the North East which caused the Watch House Boat to swamp at her moorings and beat all to pieces.

Inclosed is the Tidesurveyors statement of the Fact together with two estimates from two respectable Builders for Building a new one & as they are both alike we have no remarks to make on one or the other but the Scriven’s was received an hour before Robertson’s. The Tidesurveyor being much in want of the four Oar’d Boat, his application is respectfully submitted for your Honors consideration.


7 September 1820         Joseph Delafield Esq. of Long Acre, one of the Collectors Sureties having died on the 3 Instant, the Collector intends in due course to nominate another Gentleman for your Honors approval to become his Second Surety, the other being George Ward Esq. of Northwood Park, Isle of Wight.


23 September 1820       On the Petition of the American Consul [Mr Auldjo] we beg to recommend that several ships from America are daily expected to arrive at Cowes (the high tonnage Dues of France operating as an interdiction) the Privileging his Warehouse situated at East Cowes, and which is already approved for Articles in Tables A & B of the 43rd Geo 3 Ch 132, that it may also receive under Bond any of the Articles in Tables C & E of said Act.

The misunderstanding between France and America on their Commercial Tariff is producing daily benefits to the Revenue and labouring classes here, we therefore feel it our duty to recommend that every possible accommodation should be given to American Merchants seeking places for the Deposit of their Goods in transit to France. We are persuaded from the natural position of the Isle of Wight & the Establishment of Offices cannot be more conveniently and securely than at Cowes. Two Ships, the Concordia from New Orleans and the Farmer from Virginia, are already arrived and others are on their voyage. [A similar application was made by Mr Day for the approval of the Brick Warehouses situated on the Wharf at West Cowes, Nos. 1 & 2.]


29 September 1820       We know Henry Southcott to be a poor man and believe his statement of Servitude in His Majesty’s Navy to be perfectly true. This Petition however we submit is another of those which have so often been referred by the Lords of the Treasury to your Honors tending to confuse the general system of Regulation of the Customs Department arising out of the extraordinary enactment of 57 Geo 3 Ch 87, and to lower the authority of a Custom-House Officer, which directs an Officer holding your Honors deputation to take what he seizes in virtue of your authority to the Excise Department for prosecution.

Richard Jeatt your Honors Officer stationed at Bembridge, we understand made the Seizure and capture in question, but we have no knowledge of the circumstances as he took the Goods and Parties to the Excise Collector with whom he has since been in communication and correspondence. We knowing nothing of him except when he appears at the Office.


14 October 1820            The Seizure was made we understand by an Officer holding your Honors Deputation and carried to the Excise Collector at Southampton to be prosecuted in the Exchequer.

James Clarke’s Bond for the Boat was transmitted to your Honors 29 June last to be put in Suit by your Honors Solicitor, who, of course must have reference to the Excise Department to know whether your Honors Officer’s conduct is justified in the Seizure; a proceeding so anomalous that it tends not only to create confusion in public correspondence and to excite dissatisfaction with the Officers of the Customs, it is impossible we can recommend or say anything on the propriety of the offer of £5 to stay proceedings unless we are, as we ought to be, in possession of the facts of the Seizure.


17 October 1820            In obedience to your Honors General Order of 28th April last on the New Regulations for conducting the Business of the Coast Department and to report at the end of three months what reduction may take place in the number of Clerks employed at this Port.

We respectfully report, that the operation of the New Regulations does not abridge the official Duty of the Collectors Two Clerks to make it possible to dispense with either of them.

The Business of this Port, though not of considerable receipt is Customs Duty, is very multifarious and sufficient by the Books and Accounts kept notwithstanding the regular share the Collector himself takes in it by Correspondence and otherwise, the Quarterly copies thereof, Ships Registry, Prosecution of Seizures, payment of Boats Crews, Cutters and Officers of the Establishment, Clearance of Ships and Vessels &c. to occupy fully the time of two clerks.

The Office of resident Coastwaiter at Cowes, has not the same portion of duty to perform as the Coastwaiter of the three Creeks viz. Newport, Ryde and Yarmouth, who under the 55 Geo 3 Ch 118 clear Vessels themselves, as well as certify the Discharge and Shipment of Cargoes coastwise, and when the office falls vacant, we shall not fail to submit to your Honors, the same conscientious and independent opinion of the necessity of filling it up as we did to your Honors in our Letter 10 April last on the necessity of filling up a Landing Waiter Office, vacant by the Death of Mr Henry Cox & which has in consequence been abolished.


18 October 1820            In reference to our letter of the 7 Ult. advising your Honors of the Death of Joseph Delafield Esq. one of the Collectors Sureties and that steps would be taken in due course to renew the same. The Collector accordingly now proposes Joseph Delafield Esq. or Edward Harvey Delafield Esq. / whose convenience may suit best; from being in London to call at the Custom House / both of whom are Partners in the Brewery firm Combe, Delafield & Co., Castle Street, Long Acre for your Honors approval. A Certificate being herewith sent of the Responsibility of either of these Gentleman signed by the Comptroller and Landing Surveyor.

These are to Certify that Joseph Delafield Esq. or Edward Harvey Delafield Esq. Partners in the Brewery firm Combe, Delafield & Co., Castle Street, Long Acre, is known to us, to be a person of property, and of sufficient Responsibility to answer the Collector’s Bond Obligation for Due and faithful performance of his Official Duty.

Signed Thomas Thorold, Land Surveyor.            Isham Chapman, Comptroller


2 November 1820          The Watch and Boat House for the Preventive Service at Shanklin having been erected in pursuance of your Honors Order 9 Dec. 1819, herein we transmit the Builder Mr Moses’s Application for the contract Sum viz. £220, the Premises having been completed in a Workmanlike and proper Manner agreeable to the Plan and Specification, as will appear by the Collectors Certificate on the within Letter who has visited and examined the building.


11 November 1820        Mr William Manner, late Boatman in the Preventive Service at this Port was placed on the Superannuation List at an allowance of £40 by your Honors Offer 3 September 1818. and has been regularly paid here ever since.

He is now removed to the Port of Chichester to pass the remainder of his days with many of his relatives, and as it will be very inconvenient to him to receive his allowance at Cowes, we humbly submit your Honors may be pleased to give orders to the Collector at Chichester to pay Manner his Superannuated allowance hereafter.


16 November 1820        Richard Matthews and Joseph Clewitt having had the Tenacity to resist the Prosecution of the Daniel in the Exchequer by entering claim and giving bail – We humbly submit the offer of £100, and costs to have the Vessel restored to them and to get rid of the Licence. Penalty of £400 or £500 besides appears to us to be not only a bold attempt to work on your Honors clemency but comes at this stage of the Proceeding with very bad grace, Joseph Clewitt having long resided in a Neighbourhood of Smugglers and from the many instances of Prosecutions he must have known against many of his Acquaintances; we are of the opinion, unless he had shared some secret profit from the Earnings of the Daniel to his advantage; he would long since have got clear of the Vessel and confined his pursuits to farming.


6 December 1820          Inclosed we transmit an application from Mr Francis, Tide Surveyor at this Port, 76 years of age, and in the 34th of his servitude, praying for the reasons therein assigned – viz. his great age and inability to perform any longer the duties of his Office, that he may be placed on the Superannuation List.

On which it is incumbent on us to report for your Honors Information, that as the Office of Tide Surveyor at this Port in an Important one, not less that 100 Foreign and British Ships from various parts of the Globe arriving annually in our Roadstead for Orders of other causes, besides Ships and Vessels to import Cargoes all of which have to be watched and to have Officers Boarded thereon, that we consider Mr Francis from his great age, and natural decrease in activity to be no longer capable of doing that justice to the Service which your Honors expect, and the interests of the Revenue require.


13 December 1820        In obedience to your Order of 8th Inst. on the proposition of Mr Smith, one of the Surveyors General for uniting the Officers of Controllers and Surveyors at the Ports mentioned on back of said letter.

We report, that it appears to us, the union of said offices is very feasible, and without prejudice to the Revenue though we humbly submit it should be done subject to the Collectors personal feelings, and the importance of the Office he holds, as head of an Out Port Department, for if an Inferior Officer such as described, and who may not generally be respectable like the Officers at this Port, is to be associated with the Principle and to have Custody of the Monies collected, not only will the Office of Collector suffer in Estimation, and which ought from it compile Laws and various Duties be filled only by Gentlemen or People of Education, but the Consequence of the Customs Department will be, as we deem it most necessary, that your Honors Collectors at Out Ports, should have the Respectability of their appointments upheld. – Whether Receipts of Duty be little or much, for with reference to the great number of Statute Laws furnished to a Collector for the performance of his Duty and which he has to enforce for the Maintenance of Navigation, the Suppression of Smuggling &c &c, little indeed is the trouble of Collecting Duties at a Desk, in comparison with the Attention to be given to such Services.

On this Reasoning, we would submit in the Event of carrying into effect Mr Smith’s proposition that the Collector should carry on correspondence with your Honors Singly, that he should receive or his Clerk for him (Sec. 59 Geo 3, Ch. 123) all clearance Reports, Inwards and Outwards, and that all Documents of Office, Warrants for Duties, Special Sufferances, Coast Clearances &c should receive his signature only, - that on the Extinction of the Office of Comptroller or the uniting of the Duties of it, the Person having such Duties imposed on him should be denominated Comptrolling Examiner of Collector’s Accounts, of Receipts, of Duties and Landing Surveyor, that he should be charged with the supervision of every Accounting Book kept by the Collector, that at the close of Office Hours each day he should bring a Cash Book, which he might be directed to keep, for entering Duty Warrants of the day, issued to him by the Collector, for the discharges of Goods to the Collectors Office to compare it with his Cash Book and Receipt of Duties and on being satisfied with the accuracy of it, and seeing the money told, and deposited in the Kings Chest, of which he might keep a Key, then sign his initials to the Collectors Check Book, as proof of its Correctness. As at the end of each month, an abstract of the Collection of Duties goes to the Comptroller General in London, and it is seen thereon, not a shilling is retained beyond what is needed for the Current Expenditure of the Port, no Improper Balance can be kept back, neither can the Collector make any payment without your Honors Special Order, or being subject (however trifling) to the Scrutiny of the Inspector of Out Port Accounts. We would respectfully submit in uniting the Duties of a Principal Officer with one of a Grade below that the feelings of a Collector should be considered in the Arrangement, and that as much confidence should be put in him by your Honors in the Collection, Remission or accounting for Customs Duties as is placed in other Public Receivers, the checks on whose Official Conduct consist in rendering a monthly return of all Goods entered and charged with Duties within the Month, without interfering with abridging by a Division of Office, the abstract Authority the Collector as head of the Department should hold.


19 December 1820        As directed by your Order of 15 Inst. requiring to know whether a Reduction could be made in the supply of Candles for the Out Door Department at this Port. We report that as the Duty of Tide Surveyor at Cowes is a very important one, he having to watch and guard an open Roadstead in which Ships from the East & West Indies, Americas & other parts of the World laden with valuable and sometimes prohibitory Cargoes are almost daily coming to for Orders or Supplies; besides the regular Harbour duty, it requires two of the Boats Crew to be on the lookout at the Watch House all night, who will necessarily be prepared with Lights for the service every night throughout the year.

The cost of the Annual Supply for the Tidesurveyors Office, where he writes & the Rooms for his People, including 12 lbs of Candles needed by R Willis, Boatman at Yarmouth, who has had the same from the time of his appointment is £6 – affording an Expenditure of Three small sized Candles each night, which we humbly apprehend, with occasional consumption in Lanterns cannot be considered, for the Establishment of the Watch House at this Port, as too great. We are however of the opinion Robert Willis’s allowance of 12 lbs may be withdrawn, the Office of Boatman at Yarmouth on account of the Establishment of a Preventive Boat at that Creek being no longer required as we submitted to your Honors the 15th July last.


21 December 1820        In obedience to your letter of yesterday respecting the competence of Edward Dixon, a Riding Officer on the old system at this Port to keeps accounts &c as Warehouse keeper for seized goods at this Port.

We report that Edward Dixon is 74 years of age, that he is a bad scribe, knows nothing of arithmetic, and is Incompetent for the Service mentioned.

1818 - 1819


Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009