Collector to Board Letters Book 1821 (No. 41)


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/33, 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


1 January 1821              As directed by your Order we report that the Tide Surveyor is stationed at Cowes where the Coast business is performed, we also report that there is no Tide Surveyor at either of the Creeks within the post. The Creek at Newport is distant from the Tide Surveyors Station at Cowes 5 miles, the Creek of Ryde 7 miles and St Helens Harbour 12 miles from Cowes, but this is within the Ryde Coastwaiters District and where also there is a Preventive Boat stationed. The Creek of Yarmouth from Cowes 11 miles at which Robert Willis, a Boatman was established upwards of 30 years ago to act with Charles Leigh, Coastwaiter in a small boat when ships and vessels from foreign ports or otherwise anchor in Yarmouth Roads or Harbour and rummaging the same, but a Preventive Boat now being stationed near Yarmouth and a building and accommodation built for the Crew, we feel it right to reiterate to your Honors the opinion we submitted in our General Report July last that such an Officer and Boat are no longer necessary.

The Office of Tide Surveyor at Cowes we humbly observe to your Honors is becoming very important, second to none in the duty of that class, we believe of the Customs Department on account of the Frequency of Foreign Arrivals laden with Sugar, Coffee, Tobacco, Wines, Teas, India Dry Goods and various other merchandizes, not less than 120 ships and vessels being arrived within the last year, the boarding and watching of which requires much personal vigilance and activity on the part of the Tide Surveyor and strict and watchful operative attention from the Boats Crew.  


11 January 1821            We duly received the new letter of Instructions and in putting them into practice a difficulty presents itself in carrying into effect the Supervision of the Coal Meters by reason of some locations which attach to this Port. Hitherto the Tide Surveyor has inspected the Coal Meters on board Colliers when discharging in Cowes Harbour only, but if his Supervision is to be extended to Ryde, St Helens, Yarmouth, Newtown, Wootton Bridge the distances of which are 12 miles, where Colliers sometimes deliver, this extension of his duty will materially impede Clearances of Colliers after delivery and perhaps detain them a day or more when a fair wind prevails for their return to New-castle or Sunderland, it sometimes happening that Tide Surveyor is occupied at 2 or 3 locations in the Roadstead by putting the Quarantine Questions to Masters of Ships arriving from America, Havanna, West Indies etc. and that he cannot correctly at such intervals cast up the Meters Book and examine them for Port Entries in the way required by the new Instructions to the Surveyor of Coal Meters.

We therefore, in order to obviate the difficulties that must obtain in this Particular Branch, if the new Instructions were to be attended to, feel it our Duty to respectfully submit for your Honors Approval and Directions the following viz. that the Landing Surveyor shall have charge of the Coal Meters Books and that he shall page and deliver the same to the Coal Meters, on our warrant for Duties paid being given to him. That he shall receive their Books after discharge of Cargoes, examine and total the same, and thereon after putting his Initials to the Account deliver the same to the Collectors Clerk in the Long Room to enable him to make out the Port Entry and clear the Vessel. That the Tide Surveyor, who is resident, and has a Watch House at Cowes shall inspect the Conduct of all the Meters discharging Colliers in Cowes Roadstead and in Newport River, That Mr Lydall, the Coastwaiter at Ryde shall inspect the Conduct of all the Meters discharging Colliers at Ryde, St Helens and Wootton Bridge, such being within his District. That Charles Leigh Coastwaiter at Yarmouth shall inspect the Conduct of all the Meters discharging Colliers at Yarmouth and Newtown, such being within his District and after putting their names or initials in the Books at the times they respectively surveyed the Coal Meters shall direct them to take their Books to the Surveyor at Custom House, Cowes, to the end that he may Comptroll the examination and deliver the same to the Collectors Clerk, a mode that will very much simplify the Business and remedy the Impossibility and Difficulty that must obtain if the whole of such Duty were vested in the Tide Surveyor.


17 January 1821            In reference to the Surveyor Generals Observation that there does not appear to be any necessity for the filling up of the Vacancy of Tide Waiter / caused by William Warders resignation / by reason that there have been only 36 Foreign Ships Inwards and Outwards in any of the last three years, we have to submit that the average number of Ships arriving from Foreign Parts in the last three years has been above 100 all of which from the contiguity of the Roadstead to the Town and shore have required Officers to be boarded thereon and well watched otherwise there would be no prevention to the running of sea stock and various prohibited articles.

In the year ended 5th January Instant 124 Ships and Vessels have arrived as will be seen by the annexed list, all of which came under the Tidesurveyor’s examination and supervision and we have every reason to believe from the information of the American Consul that the Treaty of Commerce with the Americans viz. 59 Geo 3 Ch 54 which places American Shipping on the same footing as British with respect to Revenue Duties & Port Charges will very much increase the number in the present year – several being daily expected for which Orders are waiting here.

Under these facts we respectfully submit that so far from 13 Tidewaiters / 5 of whom are constantly employed in the capacity of Boatmen at the Watch House and in the Tide Surveyors Boat / being more than necessary we find the number very insufficient, the Tidesurveyor very often being necessitated, even with the existing force of ten Glutmen that we have on our list to board ships singly viz. with one man instead of two. If your Honors should recommend the reduction of the Tidewaiters place in question the savings to the Crown could only be £5 per annum as we must, so long as the System of Boarding Tidewaiters continues – employ Glutmen after the Established men are all engaged for the prevention of running and unshipping sea stores and other prohibited goods.


17 January 1821            Your Honors of yesterdays date having signified to us that you have placed Mr Thomas Francis Tidesurveyor on the list of Superannuated Officers at this Port. We report in obedience to the Honorable Boards Order of 27 August 1817 that it is most important to the Interests of the Revenue that the Office of Tidesurveyor should be filled up. Foreign arrivals being very frequent as will be seen by a List of Ships transmitted to your Honors in our Letter this day, more than one hundred and twenty four having arrived and come under the cognizance and supervision of the Tidesurveyor.

Pending the appointment we have we have selected Mr Richard Stephens the Collectors Second Clerk an active intelligent young Man and used to Boats to carry on the Duty of Tidesurveyor conformable to the New Instructions and have ordered Mr Stephen Burridge the Collectors Auxiliary Clerk and who has been in the Long Room Six Years and now perfectly competent to the Coast and General Business of the Customs above stairs act per tempore Mr Stephens which arrangement as it is deemed for the Benefit of the Service we trust your Honors will agree.

Mr Stephens is a Clerk on the Establishment at this Port and has been in Office Twelve years.


19 January 1821            We have to state to your Honors that the Masters of Coasting Vessels have refused to enter into the Condition mentioned in your GO 4 Oct.1820 for the Conveyance of condemned Spirits to London viz. to sign Bills of Lading for the delivery thereof into the Custody of the Officers of Excise alongside their wharf at St Catherines & to remove their Vessels from said Wharf as soon as the Spirits are so delivered. We are at a loss for the mode to proceed without your Honors further directions on this point. Yesterday we were prepared to send one Puncheon, one Hhd. and a small Cask condemned Spirits by the regular London Coaster, Newport Trader, but the Master refused taking them on the condition before mentioned saying that when in the River he immediately proceeded to Cotton’s Wharf and such Goods as were intended for St Catherines were always discharged into Lighters & that he could not deviate therefrom & that at that very time he was speaking to us he had to board 20 Puncheons & Hhds. condemned Spirits which he had received from the Excise at Newport to be delivered to London without signing any Bills of Lading as condition to deliver them to St Catherines Wharf, it being impossible for him to enter into such an agreement.


2 February 1821                        The written representation is from W Wheeler a Commissioned Boatman in the Yarmouth Prev. Boat in this Port who being ordered by Captain Harland, Coast Guard, to proceed to the Port of Clay in Norfolk declined going.

On his appearance at this Office the 31st Ult. to demand his arrears of pay & to surrender his Commission we refused the payment as one of the Prev. Rules is that a man shall give one month of 28 days notice previous to quitting the service, and that your Honors Orders of 16 Sept. 1790 & 14 April 1798, forbid us accepting any Officers Resignation & Commission without 14 days notice.

The case of Wheeler, as a Commissioned Prev. Boatman, being new, we are somewhat in doubt as to the strict application of the Honorable Boards Orders above quoted, the man having given no Inclination to give up the Preventive Service till ordered to a distant Station, we therefore request your Honors to instruct us, if we are at liberty to accept Wheelers Resignation & Commission as desired & to pay him his arrears, on a Certificate being produced by the Inspecting Commander that he has hitherto done his duty.

The appeal for Superannuation appears to be an afterthought, though we agree that the man was wounded in a contest with Smugglers some years ago.


2 February 1821            On the within Petition of Edward Mitchell now under prosecution by your Honors Solicitors, we report that the Petitioner is a Licensed Pilot under the Corporation of Trinity House, London, having received a Warrant from that board in November 1808 for the District of Cowes.

Of the transaction in which he is implicated, we know nothing extra from his own Petition Inclosed and the Officers report thereon, nor has he been under our cognizance for any offence against the Revenue, save a small prosecution in November 1801 for some Coffee being found in his House for he which he was fined and paid £11 – 1 – 8. We have always considered him an Industrious Man as a Pilot & not one of those systematic Smugglers it falls frequently to be our lot to point out to your Honors.


5 February 1821            Cowes Glutmen 1820

William Drayton

William Allen

Daniel Hollis

John Miller

Thomas Windover

Robert Gladdis

John Urry jun.

Robert Corke

William Flux

None of these Glutmen holds any Commission.

Established Coal Meters at this Port are occasionally employed (when they are not appointed to Colliers) as Glutmen in Emergencies when all the Established Tidewaiters are Boarded

John Urry sen,

Benjamin Brown

John Linnington

Robert Mills


10 February 1821           In Obedience to your Order in reference to Officers Ages and Capabilities, we yesterday admonished Benjamin Brown, William Cooper, John Fowell and William Mouncher to be more steady in future. And as directed in relation to Robert Willis, the Boatman at Yarmouth now 71 years of age and whom we have respectfully recommended for Superannuation and his place to be abolished, we report that the Duty he states to have been done for the last 12 months has been watching and guarding the Harbour and Roadstead at Yarmouth against Smuggling which will be found more particularly detailed in Willis’s Journals which were sent from this Port in Boxes with Sundry Office Accounts and which we presume are with the Registrar of the Land Guard, London.


20 February 1821           Having prevailed on Mr Edward Moorman Master of the Good Intent a London Trader at this Port to subscribe the Regulations and Bill of Lading mentioned in your Honors Order 4 October 1820, we herewith transmit in conformity to said Order and your Honors General one 18 September 1807, an account of 3 Casks and 75 Galls Brandy 111 Galls Geneva – which having been legally condemned is now shipped in the above Vessel for London addressed to the WarehouseKeeper of Excise St Catherine’s Wharf Wapping to whom a similar Account is also sent, likewise to the Accountant of Petty Receipts.


21 February 1821           In Obedience to your Order of Yesterday, we transmit a Certificate of Baptism of Mr Richard Stephens nominated to be Tide Surveyor at this Port in the Room of Mr Thomas Francis, Superannuated and we respectfully report that the said Mr R Stephens, whose age was 30 last May, has been sixteen years Collectors Clerk, the last ten on the establishment of this Port, that he has always conducted himself with propriety and much zeal for the Service, that he is particularly active and at this time professes a knowledge of this Office highly creditable and which will enable the Proper Officers at the Instructing Port of his competency, he having acted as Tide Surveyor when Mr Francis was called away on special service and for some years has been in the habit of filling up the Registers and Licence Certificates in furtherance of his Office Duties.

Baptism – One Thousand, Seven Hundred and Ninety, May the Sixteenth, Richard son of Richard and Bridget Stephens.

I certify the above to be a correct copy of the West Cowes Chapel Baptism Record in the Parish of Northwood, in the County of Southampton.

William Nickson, Minister, Vestry Room, February 7 1821.

26 February 1821           The Collectors 2nd Clerk Mr R Stephens has been appointed Tide Surveyor at this Port and it being impossible for one Clerk to execute the Duties of the Long Room, the Collector in Conformity with the Orders of the Lords of the Treasury and your Honors respectfully requests to nominate Mr Stephen Burridge, who has been his Auxiliary Clerk for the last six years and who professes a very competent knowledge of the Office to be Mr Stephens successor. Certificate of Baptism inclosed.

April the fifth, One Thousand seven hundred and ninety seven, Stephen Son of Stephen and Sarah Burridge admitted into the Church.

The above is extracted from the Register of Baptism at West Cowes, Witness J H Gill, Minister of West Cowes.


5 March 1821                We have to represent to your Honors that the Dwelling part of the Watch House at West Cowes occupied by the Tide Surveyor for which he pays an Annual Rent of £10 – 10 to the Crown is in a very decayed and untenable state, the Rafters of the Roof having sunk in the tiling being so defective as to admit the wet in many parts particularly in one Bed Chamber, the Walls of which require Battening and that a new Privy is indispensable.  The Crown by Lease bearing the date 4 January 1811 having covenanted to keep the Premises in repair, ten years of which have now expired, inclosed we transmit Estimates from the Bricklayer, Carpenter and Painter made out in conformity to your Honors General Order at the sum of £55 – 3 – 5, which we respectfully submit for your Honors early Directions, the Dwelling House now being unoccupied. The Lease is for 21 Years from 4 January 1811, ten years of which are unexpired the 4th January last.


12 March 1821               Pursuant to your Order, 2nd Inst. John Sparks and John Cook have been admitted Commissioned Boatmen in the Prev. Service at Sconce Point in this Port, & James Tuck & Edward Osborne at Bembridge, they having first perfected the inclosed Bonds with two sufficient Sureties and taken the usual Oath of Office.


14 March 1821               Annexed is the Seizing Officers report of the Boat and Coffee to which we have to add that the Boat, though 22 feet long, is of shallow construction that exempts her from Licence and consequently the Owner from any Penalty, whatever contraband Articles or prohibited Goods be found within her. She is employed by her owner Jacob Long in boarding ships – carrying Passengers and will row possibly faster than any Revenue Boats whatever and she is of that class of Boats I called Act Boats, that might be employed to considerable disadvantage and which we have long recommended to be kept under Licence and Bond – our humble opinion being, that if a Licensing system be of any Good every boat of 14 feet and upwards should be licensed. With respect to the Atlantic out of which the Coffee was unshipped, we received assurance from the Merchant, Mr Penice, which we give full credit, that he knew nothing whatever of the Transaction till it was reported to him on his return on board in the Evening.


19 March 1821               Pursuant to your Honors Order on Mr Harrisons from the Lords of the Treasury of the 9th on the Warehousing of American produce at this Port in transit to France, we report that the Cargoes of the American Ships “Cadmus” & “Bayaid” from Savannah, consg. the former of 602 Bales of Cotton Wool & 351 Pieces of Rice, & the latter of 1016 Bales of Cotton Wool, have been lately warehoused, according to 43rd Geo 3 Ch 132.


19 March 1821               The men against who name there are a + were sent by the order of the Controller General of Preventive Waterguard in exchange for those men removed out of the Island – they are denominated by the Controller General Probationary Men – and at the end of a month if found capable will receive their Appointments, but as their appearance filled up the vacancies filled up by the removal of other Men we conceived it right to insert their names on the list.


28 March 1821               In obedience to your Honors Order of the 27th Inst. accepting the Estimate of Masters, Thomas and Civile to complete the Repair of the Tidesurveyors Dwelling and Watch House for £39 – 12 – 2, these Tradesmen were directed to proceed, but it appearing on the Collector going to see the Repairs yesterday that the cornering of the Watch House in the Description inclosed, which is in a very bad state, was not understood by Masters and Thomas to be included in the Estimate (though understood by Holler and Groves who sent the first Estimate). We have accordingly had the same examined by the parties Master and Thomas, the additional expense for which will be £8 – 18 – 8 making the whole £48 – 10 – 10 which will be less now by £6 – 12 – 5 than the other Estimate, we respectfully submit that the same may be accepted as the cornering is in a bad condition and we have no reason to believe there has been any attempt at deception for the neglect to Estimate for the work for the Watch House. [The work was completed for £48 – 10 – 1, and Tradesmens Bills submitted for payment on 15 June 1821.]


3 April 1821                   The Comptroller having been informed by Mr Joseph Smith that some very offensive words had been made use of by the Landing Surveyor Mr Thomas Thorold towards him on his passing the Parties in the Street yesterday, inclosed is the Comptrollers Representation of the same, in which he craves your Honors Protection.


3 April 1821 Representation from Isham Chapman, Comptroller               It is with much regret that I have to trouble your Honors with a complaint against Mr T Thorold, Landing Surveyor at this Port, who no longer ago than yesterday – on my passing in the Street while he was in conversation with a Mr Smith, a Neighbour, observed to him “there goes a Son of a Bitch”, with many other offensive expressions towards me, which induces me to throw myself on your Honors protection.


7 April 1821                   You Honors having been pleased on the Vacancy occasioned by the Superannuation of the Tide Surveyor to direct by your Order 19 January last that one of the best qualified Tidewaiters and Boatmen should act as T. Surveyor during such vacancy, and Jacob Leale, a Boatman on the Establishment having been selected by us for such service, & acquitted himself actively and well in that employ since 20th January last; within we respectfully lay before your Honors his humble crave for £13 – 8 – 5, the difference between his Day Pay & salary as Boatman and the Tidesurveyors Established Salary at this Port of £120 per annum from 20th January exclusive to 30th March inclusive, the new Tidesurveyor being admitted 31st March.


7 April 1821                   Inclosed is the Landing Surveyors Report pursuant to your Order above, on which the Collector individually begs to state he endeavoured to settle the matter which forms the Grounds of the Complaint and the Representation was sent off to the end that your Honors time might not have been occupied with a subject of this nature, but failed as the Landing Surveyor refused to make any concession.


16 April 1821                 The Vessel Oak now under Seizure at Newcastle is neither more nor less than a heavy Lighter Barge, built by Mr White Dock Proprietor at this Port to bring ponderous Trees of Oak & Plank to his yard, for Ship Building, was reported to us by the late Tidesurveyor at the time of her Registry as not being liable to Licence “There being no difference of Drawing of Water forward and aft” & we humbly report that on adverting at that time to the 19 Sec of 56 Geo 3 Ch 104 which relaxed the Licensing Restrictions on Ships and Vessels of 200 Tons upwards & to the following Section which requires certain Ships and Vessels to have Licences “If the Draught of water forward and aft shall exceed 1¼ inches to every foot in Breadth, & which principle and injunction are extended by the 21 Sec of 57 Geo 3 Ch 87, controlling in our Interpretation of Said Law the Enactment of 24 Geo 3 Ch 47 which imposes Restrictions on Vessels calculated by their Construction to sail fast & which in no degree does the Oak possess, she being heavy built, and moving on an even keel; we concur in opinion, that the Oak Lighter Barge / for such in reality she is / under the provisions of the Acts before quoted, did not require a Licence.

Mr White’s business declining last year he sold her to Mr William Stovold, a respectable Timber Merchant living at Petworth, Sussex, for the purpose of carrying Timber from one Port to another & we believe she has in no way been illegally employed, but why Mr Stovold has omitted to register her at Arundel we do not know.


7 May 1821                   Inclosed is a Letter from Mr Stephens, the Tide Surveyor, representing that the Four oared Boat built for the old Tide Surveyor is too heavy for the Service & praying, for the reason therein stated, that your Honors will allow him to have one of a different construction; the Boat was built in September last at Portsmouth & cost £15 & we are of the opinion, if it should be your Honors pleasure to comply with his request, that very little would be lost to the Crown by the sale of the present Boat.


8 May 1821                   Pursuant to your Order of February last, in reference to the Conduct of the Officers on the back hereof, who were admonished by us to be more steady than they had been at times in the last year, we have the Satisfaction in reporting to your Honors from the information derived from the present Tide Surveyor and Mr J Leale, Acting Tide Surveyor that these men have conducted themselves with Sobriety and Proper Attention to their Duty since the Admonishment given them, which is respectfully submitted.

Benjamin Brown, Coal Meter

William Cooper, Tide Waiter

John Fowell, Boatman

William Mouncher, Boatman


10 May 1821                 The Boat in question has these two or three years been rigidly noticed and watched by the Preventive Boat at Bembridge, the Resolution Excise Cutter, and Mr Robey our Riding Officer at Ryde. The parties knowing it was made use of by of as a take up boat by Smugglers who had sunk their goods near the Wight to be conveyed at favourable opportunity to some landing place but being of shallow build and without the pale of Restitution Dimensions could not be seized by them for want of a Licence – William Callaway, his Father and Brothers live at St Helens and employ themselves altogether in Smuggling but Mr Robey tells us that this Boat as she is technically termed is used by our Smugglers generally who have boats to take up and convey away. This is one of the Boats for many years past we have humbly submitted should be licenced as well as all Boats whose length exceeds 14 feet otherwise such Boats Smuggle without fear of Penalty with very little Hazard of being taken as from her light and shallow Construction, she will with four Oars outrow and Preventive or Cutter Boat with six Oars  - such is the Integrity of words and understanding amongst the smugglers of this Island – that we are humbly of the opinion that no Rewards will induce them to impeach.


13 May 1821                 The Riding and other Officers of this Port who go out by Land to search suspected places for smuggled Goods having represented to us their being in need of Tucks. We humbly pray your Honors will be pleased to order a supply of one dozen for this Service to be immediately forwarded.


16 May 1821                 In obedience to your Order 10th Inst. respecting the levy of Light Dues on Vessels from Ireland and your Honors subsequent Letter of 14th Inst., we herein transmit an account of Light Dues collected at this Port in the last seven years, and also a comparative statement of what would have been the amount of Light Dues in said space, had British and Irish Vessels arriving from Ireland at Cowes been charged as Coasters.


18 May 1821                 We herein transmit the Tide Surveyors Certificate to obtain your Honors Licence for the Boat particularized on the back hereof, the owner whereof to our knowledge has not been concerned in Smuggling.

Aurora – Michael Ratsey, Shipbuilder, Proprietor – Value £60


26 May 1821                 The Tide Surveyor having represented to us than John Fowell, one of his Boat Crew holding a Commission had got very Drunk on the 18th inst while left in trust at the Watch House, we felt it our Duty to give him a Charge for such Misconduct and he having acknowledged his Offence, inclosed we transmit to your Honors the Complaint, Charge and Answer. Fowell was first employed as an Extra Boatman at this Port the 31 October 1798 and on 29 December 1807 received a Commission on the Establishment, making his Service in Customs 23 Years. He has never before been Charged, but last year having been negligent in one or two instances, we reported him with three others in the annual Account of Ages and Capacities, not so steady as he ought to be and in consequence of your Honors order of 8th of February last, he was thereon with the other Admonished and at the end of Three Months in conformity with the said Order we dated to your Honors that he had behaved much better. The man seems sensible of his Offence and promises to conduct himself with Propriety in the future.


30 May 1821                 The Ensign Staff in front of the Watch House at this Port, on which the flag is hoisted on their Majesties Birthdays, & other Public Festivals being from its great age too rotten for any future use, we transmit the Tide Surveyors representation of the fact, together with reasonable Estimate for completing the work; which are respectfully submitted.


15 June 1821                 From the information we have obtained of the Water Springs that ooze from the Cliffs at Shanklin contiguous to the preventive Watch House & which were not anticipated at the time the Spot (which is particularly well adapted for the Service) was obtained for the Building – we are humbly of the opinion, it is absolutely necessary to have the drain proposed completed as soon as possible to prevent the Foundation being affected.


9 July 1821                   The applicant is the Honorable Charles Pelham owner of the “Falcon” Brig Yacht 101 Tons Register, fitted out at considerable expense and manned with a Crew of 34 persons. Mr Pelhams Custom in Victualling his Crew is to make each man on board an allowance of Grog daily, thereby consuming from 2 to 4 Galls of Spirits per Diem.

In his Summer Cruises he has been in the habit of shipping his Sea Stock of Spirits at Guernsey or at such Foreign Ports the Yacht may have touched at, thereby leaving the profits in the purchase of such sea stocks to Alien Merchants – we therefore humbly submit, as the intention & meaning of the 16 Sect 57 Geo 3 Ch 123, was to afford an opportunity to the Rum Importers to sell their Importations from the Bonded Warehouses to such charters for the immediate Consumption of the Crews on board whether your Honors might not think it proper to consider Mr Pelhams Yacht in a relative light to any others wanting spirits for the use of the Crew and allow him to take from the Bonded Warehouse the Casks he stands in need of instead of having recourse as heretofore of buying his Sea Stock at Guernsey or in a Foreign Port.


11 July 1821                  Inclosed we transmit the return of a Seizure of Three Casks of Spirits and Two Bags of Tea made in the Morning of the 8th Inst. – at 2am by the Tide Surveyor and his Boats Crew – to prosecute which we pray – your Honors directions.

Annexed to the return is the Officers account of a Scuffle that took place between – Leale – one of the Boatmen and an unknown Smugler – who escaped – in which the Boatman had his left hand cut by a Clasped Knife – and of their taking into Custody some hours after the Seizure was made – a Brewers Servant – Thomas Scamell – who they believe to be one of the parties but who the Magistrates refused to commit – for want of sufficient evidence – as the wounding Leale his Boatman can only be proved by the admission of the person who did it and Scamell has been set at liberty by order of the Magistrates, the expediency of offering a Reward for the discovery of the Offender is not in question.


17 July 1821                  In obedience to your General Order of 16th March 1820 on the Charges of Management of the Port, the State of its Trade and the Possibility of any Reduction consistent with the Security of the Revenue.

We report that, since the last return of the 17th January, a considerable increase in Foreign Importations has taken place as will be seen by the account annexed, and that the Charges of Management from the Employ of Tidesmen & Glut Tidewaiters in consequence of such increase in Trade have increased, but that the Standard Expense of Established Officers is the same as last half year, annexed is a General List of the Several Officers, Clerks and Day Pay Officers that have been employed since January last, no one of which we can recommend the Reduction of consistently with the Security the Revenue requires.

The decrease in this Staff Year in Incidents, Expences and Tradesmens Bills as compared with the last is   £2 – 4 – 4, the increase in Day Pay, Officers Pay for Boarding and Watchings in the same space is £75 – 18 arising as before stated from the increase in American Importations and the number of Ships British & Foreign now engaged in the Coasting Trade which halt at this Port for Orders.

We shall not fail to pay every attention to your Honors Injunction of 16 March 1820 & to economize the Expenses of the Port whenever there is a possibility of doing it.


23 July 1821                  In obedience to your Order of the 16th Inst. regarding the obtainment of some Land at Shanklin for the Accommodation of the Preventive Crew at that Station, we have communicated with the Rev. W White, Lord of Shanklin Manor and herein we submit proposals for Letting Half an Acre for the purpose required.

We have respectfully to submit, in reference thereto for your Honors Consideration, whether a more extended and definite Term / say 60 Years certain / would not be preferable to a Lease on Lives, and also if your Honors may not think proper to insist on the option of ordering the Buildings to be covered with Tiles, instead of Thatch, the Spot suited to these Cottages being near the Shore and exposed at times to strong Southerly Winds.


25 July 1821                  John Fowell is a Commissioned Boatman in the Tide Surveyors Boat at this Port having again misconducted himself, notwithstanding the severe Reprimand we gave him pursuant to your Honors Order of 31 May last (copy of which is annexed). Inclosed we transmit the Tide Surveyors Representation of the same. It appears that Mr Stephens having reason to believe that a run of some Tubs of Spirit was about to take place in the vicinity of Cowes on Saturday last ordered Fowell who had the Watch that night at the Watch House jointly with Mouncher, another Boatman to accompany him to the suspected Spot, that after placing these men in ambush so as to intercept the Smugglers in their Boat, Fowell thought fit on his own Accord to return to the Watch House when on the Tide Surveyors return thereto he severely reprimanded him for his misconduct whereon Fowell made use of very inopportune and abusive language to Mr Stephens, highly disorderly and subversive of the subordination due from a Boatman to his superior Officer and Master, which is respectfully submitted.


26 July 1821                  Representation having been made to us by the Tide Surveyor that he found John Ralph, one of the Established Tidewaiters in the evening of the 21st inst between 8 and 9 o’clock absent from the French Sloop ‘Annibal’ on which he was boarded. We have deemed it our Duty to give the Tidewaiter the within Charges and his answer admitting the fact but with extenuating circumstances that he required George Henning the Tidesman on board the ‘Alexandre’ adjoining the ship to keep watch during his absence, being annexed.

It remains for us to state to your Honors that the cargo of the ‘Annibal’ was Bales of Cotton Wool, that she was singly boarded thereon and had not noted his absence in the Blue Book. It is due nevertheless to state to your Honors that Ralph is a sober Man of Good Character and has always been considered by us as most trustworthy, that he was admitted to office the 10 October 1810, has never before been charged and should it be your Honors pleasure to forgive the offence we fully assure ourselves it will not be repeated.  [The Board found him guilty, but limited action to enjoining him to a strict attention to duty in the future.]


27 July 1821                  Having incurred Expenses for Subsistence and Travelling Charges in carrying into effect some Special Duty at Southampton in obedience to your Honors Minute of 23 Ult. on a Complaint against the Waterside Officers. I herein transmit the Account Viz. £3 respectfully requesting your Honors Order for payment.


1 August 1821               The Bear Skins mentioned in Mr Days Petition were permitted from the peculiar circumstances of their arrival here & the situation of the Ship (Cowes not being privileged for bonding Articles in Table D) under your Order 21st to be deposited in the Kings Warehouse & afterwards exported to France, which has been done. The Warehousing System at this Port being found very beneficial, in as much as Tonnage Dues are Collected as well as Customs Duty on parts of Cargoes ex Warehouses & the Laboring Classes derive Employ therefrom, we humbly submit that with such substantial Warehouses as are being built at this Port, we accordingly beg to recommend particularly as several American Ships, with produce are soon expected, that Cowes may be privileged for Bonding Articles in Table D of said Act under the Regulations of 43 Geo 3 Ch 132.


3 August 1821               Pursuant to your order of 17th Ult. respecting the Treaty for some land at Shanklin belonging to Rev. White, to erect some Cottages on.

We report that Mr White yesterday informed the Collector that he had a great objection to letting any of his land for so long a time as Sixty Years, but if your Honors were urgent for so extended a Lease, his demand for Rent for sufficient space to build the Contemplated Cottages on would be Four Pounds annually, that wishing at the same time that poor Families occupying the said Cottages should have some outlet as Cottages usually have, he should not object to the Quantity of Land being half an Acre or something more, but less rent he will not consent to for any portion, however small.

With regard to the covering of the Building, if it is not likely to be unsightly to his property, he will wave the preference he has for Thatch, but is rather desirous the elevation should be of Stone, of which there are an abundance in the vicinity; in the meantime he is desirous to be furnished with a plan of the Cottages proposed the be erected and he will thereupon appoint a day for the Collector, and the Inspector of Preventive Waterguard to meet him at Shanklin to choose an eligible spot for the object in question. As the Season for commencing new buildings is somewhat advanced, the earlier we can be furnished with the Plan, the better, and the Collector the Collector will thereon immediately attend Mr White to complete the matter.


1 September 1821         As directed by your Order of the 27th Ult. on the Nomination of George Hemmings to be a Tidewaiter, we herein transmit a copy of the Register of his Baptism showing he is 23 Years of Age also specimen of his hand writing and a Certificate, signed by ourselves & Tidesurveyor, that we consider Hemming in all respects as qualified for the Office to which he is appointed. – he has been bred to the Boat Service & has several months been employed as a Glut Tidewaiter at this Port, was never known or suspected to have been concerned in Smuggling or obstructed any Officer of this Revenue in the Execution of his Duty or have been Dismissed the Service of this Revenue or Excise.


10 September 1821       Benjamin Brown, one of the Sworn Meters, having been found intoxicated on the Morning of the 3rd Instant so as to be incapable of discharging the Desire’s Cargo of Coals to which we had appointed him.

We felt it incumbent on us to give him the within Charge and he having pleaded Guilty thereto his case is submitted for your Honors Information and Judgement. He was admitted a Sworn Meter the 28 March 1805 and has never before been charged. [Brown was found guilty of the Charge by the Board and they directed  that he be severely reprimanded and enjoined to sobriety in future and also to the attentive discharge of his Duty.]

20 September 1821       In obedience to your General Order of 17th September 1798 on the Defects of the Revenue Laws, we have with deference to submit he following observations:

First, that the 5th Sec. 57 Geo 3 is defective as from the omission of the word “She”, when a woman is detected with contraband Spirits on her & brought before the Justices for prosecution they refuse to convict her.

Secondly, that the 26 Geo 3 Ch 60, commonly called the Registry Act, is defective, there being no positive Enactment which subjects a Vessel for not having her name, properly legible painted on her stern to Forfeiture or Detention; the 19th Sec of the Act enacting only a Penalty of £100 for not conforming to such requisite, and which requisite seems to be in general disregard by owners of Vessels.

Thirdly, that as the 16th Sec 56 Geo 3 Ch 104 which enacts that Seizures made by Officers of the Customs shall be delivered to the Officers of Excise for Prosecution & Condemnation is in principle unjust to the Department of Customs & beneficial to certain Individuals within Excise it should be repealed & the delivery of all Seizures made by the Officers of Customs placed on its ancient & natural footing. [This continues at length, the remainder has not been transcribed.]


26 September 1821       The Books in question which from the Stock of a French Teacher lately returned from America where he followed his vocation for some years – being old and soiled and not worth the Duties even if they were intended to be used in England, we have no objection to offer to the Proprietors Application to have then sent to Havre de Grace where he now is in the first French Ship which may clear out at Cowes for that Port, to be put on board under due care of the proper officer should your Honors so approve.


10 October 1821            In obedience to your Order 19th Sept. on the warehousing of American Produce at this Port, we report that since our last return 28th July the Cargo of the American Brig “Favorite” from Virginia consisting of 413 Hhds. of Tobacco has been warehoused here under the Special Charge of the Officers of Excise.


4 November 1821          Yesterday Morning at about 3 o’clock in thick tempestuous weather the Hamburgh Ship Herman from Bordeaux to Hamburgh 308 Tons Burthen – came on shore at a spot called Knowles near the foot of St Catherine’s Hill on the south part of the Isle of Wight and is since separated and gone to pieces. The Cargo consisting of Wines, Brandies, Fruit, Gum and Cork partly cast on shore and the remained floating and scattered, every exertion is now being made by some Trusty Tidesmen sent from Cowes and the Preventive Boats Crew under the direction of the Superintendence of the Comptroller aided by the Master and Crew in saving such articles they can save from total Loss and Lodging them in a place of Security till further removal to Cowes.


6 November 1821          Jacob Leale one of the Tide Surveyors Boat Crew having been wounded in the Execution of his Duty on the 8th July last when making a Seizure of some Foreign Spirits, inclosed is the Surgeons Bill for Curing Leale’s Wounds the payment of which £1 – 10 is respectfully submitted.


10 November 1821        Lieut. Benjamin Aplin having this day given good and responsible Security for the due Performance of this Official Duty as Sitter of the Preventive Boat at Fishbourne Creek in this Port, we have admitted him to Office in pursuance of your Honors Order 5 October last and transmit his Bond inclosed.


16 November 1821        Inclosed we transmit in our usual printed form and Account of Seizures brought to the Warehouse since out last return the 20th Ult., to prosecute which we pray your Honors Directions. James Gillman the Person mentioned in the Tide Surveyors Note is a resident at this Port and is professionally a Pilot for Holland and the North Seas and often employed by the Masters of Ships, American & others coming to Cowes, to conduct them to the Dutch and Baltic Seas. It appears he was returning from Antwerp in a Dutch Vessel having conducted the American Ship “Leo” from Cowes to that Port and was taken into the “Jane” Licensed Pilot Vessel at the back of the Isle of Wight to be landed here. The Articles seized, which there is no doubt he intended to run, are liable to Duty and two of them viz. Soap & Candles are on account of the packages circumstantially, prohibited.


19 November 1821        Henry Harbour having this day given good and responsible Security for due performance of his official Duty as Boatman in the Preventive Boat at Newtown within this Port, we have admitted him to Office in pursuance to your Honors Order of 10th Instant and transmit the Bond inclosed.


28 November 1821        The Pavement in front of the Custom House (the Crown’s Property) which has been down thirty years being from constant wear now become very dilapidated, thin & sunk, & so under the Level of High Water Spring Tides in winter time, as to be overflowed, to the impediment of ourselves and others getting to the office.

We have humbly to crave your Honors Directions for causing some new Pavement to be laid (this place being without any local Pavement Act of Rate); the Expense of which as by the Estimate inclosed will not exceed Nine Pounds.


29 November 1821        When Clark & Courtney entered into Bond at this Office for the Good Conduct of the Former’s Wherry, we warned both, conforming to our local practice, against the consequences of her being concerned in Smuggling, notwithstanding Clark’s assertion that the Boat was made use for the Illicit Transaction which has condemned her, by persons unknown to him, we have no doubt of his priority thereto.

Courtney, from the enquiries we have made does not appear to be implicated therein but has been sent to Gaol from inability to pay the Penalty, he was as he describes himself as Pilot for Kings Ships in War Time. Their household goods having been taken in Execution and sold and themselves in Prison some Months and the case which has entailed the punishment on them, being 3 Casks of Spirits only, their Petition is humbly submitted to your Honors lenient consideration.

1819 - 1820

1821 - 1822

Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009