Collector to Board Letters Book 1822 - 1823 (No. 43)


These extracts are a partial transcription of the book held at the National Archives reference, CUST 61/35, 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.


22 November 1822        Mr B Borham Chief Officer and John Miller a Boatman having been made special for the arrest of John Gough, a Smuggler, it appears from the Bill of Expense incurred in the capturing of Gough and conveying him to Gaol exceeds £4 – 4 – 0. We inclose the said bill of £7 – 3 – 0 agreeable to your Honors General Order of 25 November 1814.


25 November 1822        Joseph Goulding having been captured by the East Cowes Coast Guard Boat Crew in the act of conveying Contraband Spirits in the Night of the 21 Instant. The Collector prosecuted him the 23 Instant under the Act of 57 Geo. 3 Ch 87 and 3 Geo. 4 Ch 110 before a Bench of Magistrates at Newport who convicted him in the Penalty of £100. Inclosed is an account of the Expenses amounting to £1 – 11 – 6 required by the General Order 14 February last.


25 November 1822        Pursuant to your Order 9 Instant we herein transmit an Affidavit on 2/6 stamped paper and sworn before a Commissioner in the Court of the Exchequer relating to the circumstances of a Seizure made on the premises of James Rayner situated in the Parish of Brooke on this Island. We further report that the Prosecution should be carried out against the offender agreeable to Regulation contained in your Honors General Orders 1 September 1730 and 8 July 1801, the Officers wish to bear the expense and hazard of arresting Rayner which in the event of conviction will allow them one Third of the Penalty recovered.


29 November 1822        The Petitioner Joseph Goulding having been prosecuted by the Collector the 23 Instant before a Bench of Magistrates at Newport who convicted him in the Penalty of £100, Inclosed we transmit details of the particulars of the offenders case. The Petitioner we know is a very poor man and we submit if it be your Honors pleasure to recommend him the Allowance enacted by 53 Geo. 3 Ch 21 that the Collector at Southampton be directed to pay him, that Port being the nearest to Winchester Gaol.


30 November 1822        The Informer living at more than 15 miles from the Custom House, we have had recourse to Captain Money, Inspecting Commander, and Lieut. Jones of the Preventive Coast Guard [St Lawrence] for the particulars required by your Honors General Order and we accordingly transmit their written reports.

The Collector yesterday – in attending a Session of the Magistrates at Newport spoke also to the Rev. Barnes the Magistrate alluded to in Lieut. Jones letter and received from him a declaration that he considered Haynes entitled to credence.

The motive for his giving the information against Mackett, Saunders & Skeet is unquestionably revenge resulting from the brutal beating and treatment he received from the three people. A detail of which is consistently given in his deposition and corroborated by one of the Boatmen on shore who met him on the road just after the beating without a Hat and scarcely any clothes on him.

Mackett, Saunders & Skeet are known to be notorious Smugglers and believing all the facts sworn by Haynes in his Affidavit of 15 November last have no doubt that conviction of the Parties may be had on his evidence.


9 December 1822          James Balls having been prosecuted before the Magistrates at Newport by your Order of 9 November and convicted in the Penalty and has been sent to Winchester Gaol not being a Seafaring Man. [He came from Freshwater and was convicted of carrying one cask containing 3½ Galls of foreign Brandy. In reply to a later query from the Board it was stated that he had been committed until the Penalty was paid. He was subsequently released by the Magistrates on the 10 February 1823.]


10 December 1822        Mr Joseph Andrews the Surveyor approved by your Honors for making a Breakwater at Shanklin for the support of the Watchhouse at that Station – having reported to us – that he found it necessary from the nature of the ground to make some alterations in the plan suggested and submitted to your Honors.

The Collector and Captain Money, the Inspecting Commander, in conformity with your Honors Order 15 Inst. requiring their Superintendence went yesterday to the spot to inspect the same and to receive Mr Andrew’s explanation for now advising the Drain to be abandoned and to extend the Breakwater more to the northwards in lieu.

And being satisfied that the recommendation contained in the inclosed report of the Surveyor is founded on good judgement and that it is preferable to extend the Breakwater 40 feet as proposed in lieu to digging the Drain we feel it our duty to submit that this change may be approved by your Honors and that an Order on account of the peculiar predicament of the land and work people on the spot may be issued to us by return for proceeding with the additions to the Breakwater and stopping the ground round the Building as proposed by Mr Andrews.


10 December 1822        As directed by you Order of yesterday, we report that we are not aware of any Services rendered to the Revenue by E. Dixon, Riding Officer within the last three years except attendance at Wrecks neither has any seizures been made by him. He is 76 years of age and has been 48 years in the Service.


11 December 1822        Mr Borham, Chief Officer of the Preventive Coast Guard Boat at Bembridge having been assaulted on the Kings High Road when looking out after Smugglers and his life menaced by a notorious Smuggler of the name of Robert Caws, Mr Borham of his own account obtained a summons from the Magistrates for the said Caws to appear Saturday last 6 December to answer the Complaint. The Parties being assembled at the Guildhall, Mr Mincham a Solicitor from Gosport and employed by Caws as his advocate moved the Magistrate to postpone the Hearing till Saturday 14 December on the Grounds of the Absence of a Material Witness and in the hope in such period a compromise might take place which postponement was consented to.

We however consider it our Duty as Caws has frequently before abused Officers, is a notorious systematic Smuggler having been fined £100, 12 February 1821 and £7 – 10 the 16 ultimo for Smuggling Offences, we submit to your Honors may not deem his Conduct to Mr Borham of that Nature as meriting an Indictment in the Court of the Kings Bench instead of allowing the Complaint to be heard before the Justices. Inclosed is Mr Borham’s Deposition to Capt. Money of Caws conduct.


11 December 1822        We represented to your Honors the 9th Inst. that James Balls in pursuance of your Order 9 Ult. had been prosecuted to conviction before a Bench of Magistrates at Newport in the sum of £100 and in default of payment has been committed to Winchester Gaol, and now in conformity to your Honors General Order 3 October (some special circumstances having elicited in the prosecution) we transmit a return filled up with the requisite particulars. The affidavit inclosed sworn before a Commissioner in the Court of the County Kings Bench we considered it our Duty to receive on the conduct of George Shepard, a Licensed Publican at Lymington who attempted to bribe the witness Edmund Shepard from giving that evidence for the Crown which afterwards most satisfactorily to the judgement and feelings of a full Blench of Magistrates lead to the conviction of Balls.

The affidavit being a full one we refrain from a repetition of the particulars and humbly submitting that as Shepard is known to be connected with Smuglers who carry on a most injurious Traffic near Lymington and to the Westwards of Hurst Castle and his Public House is a focus for illicit traders in general, that he is a fit person to have an indictment prepared against him for bribery. In the prosecution of Balls at Newport, three fellows of the names of James, a Brickmaker, Brown calling himself a Brickmaker but in reality a chimney sweeper and Ryddal a Seafaring Boy, attempted to prove an Alibi in favour of Balls by swearing that on 29 October last the day when Balls was detected at 2 o’clock p.m. Smugling in a field near Lymington, that Balls was in company with them in Shepard’s Public House called the Sloop from 5 o’clock in the morning till near 5 o’clock in the afternoon but to which the Magistrates refused all credence.


14 December 1822        The submitted Statement of the Case detailed by in the inclosed papers and submitted for your Honors information, that Lieut. Moffat the Chief Officer of the Coast Guard Preventive Boat at Shanklin knew that a Crop of Spirits was lying sunk within one mile of his Watch House and which he had been watching for upwards of a month as his log will prove. That at a favourable interval for the same and when his Boat was manned and rowing in that direction to the Suspected Spot the Pilot Boat belonging to Richard Caws of Nettlestone, owner (one of a Family notorious for Smuggling Practices) hove into view of Sight despatching a small boat to the point the Preventive Boat was rowing and getting there first had taken into the Boat 4 or 5 Casks from the Raft which then showed itself. On the facts stated and which we do not doubt, we humbly submit for your Honors consideration that as the Pilot Vessel Crew could not but observe the Direction the Preventive Boat was rowing in there was no occasion for her interference at all the object of which could only be to participate in the Officers Reward and therefore he has no claim but for the conveyance of the Goods to Cowes after Seizure which Lieut. Moffat employed him to do and which service we are humbly of the opinion £10 would be liberal payment. 


14 December 1822        Lieut. Jackson, lately with the Preventive Coast Guard Boat lately removed from Fishbourne to Cowes to look after the Smugglers of the District and his exertions were attended to last Monday night by making Seizure of 72 Casks of Spirit in a Boat about a mile to the westward of Cowes Castle. The said Boat is marked ‘Lord Nelson of Cowes’ and belongs to a vessel of that name one of our most notorious Smugglers and we believe at the moment she is at Cherbourg taking in a fresh crop to be run within the Wight.


23 December 1822        William Russell of St. Hellens in this Port having been captured by Mr Peter Cook, a Boatman at Bembridge Preventive Station, the Collector prosecuted Russell before the Magistrates for the penalty of £100 (he not being a seafaring man) for being found carrying three Gallons of foreign Geneva & the Defendant on his own confession having been convicted in the said Penalty was committed in default of payment to Winchester Gaol.


23 December 1822        The Sling Staff is well adapted for slinging small casks & as such is invariably made us of by contraband traders & is in length 24 Fathoms, the sinking warp which is 33 Fathoms with some stoppers on is just suited for the sinking casks when the parties have not an opportunity to run them; the Boat is marked the “Lord Nelson” of Cowes (one of the most notorious traders of the Isle of Wight as all the Coast Guard Journals on reference thereto will shew), on the stern, but within the transom “Joseph Jollef” instead of “Joseph Jolliffe” the real name of the owner.


24 December 1822        Inclosed is a representation from Lieut. Moffat, Chief Officer of the Preventive Coast Guard Station at Shanklin complaining of the conduct of the crew of a Vessel called the Hope of this Port who disregarded the Customs Colours hoisted in the Preventive Boat and by their manoeuvres frustrated the attempts of the Boats crew from getting on board in the execution of their Duty.

As it does not appear that the names of the parties are known, we humbly submit the impossibility of bringing them to Justice should your Honors deem their conduct an offence.   


31 December 1822        Captain Money Inspecting Commander of the Coast Guard on the Island having considered it necessary for the support of the Service in finding that a Soldier of the 67 Regiment who he had obtained from the Commanding Officer at Albany Barracks to assist the Revenue Establishment had been ill treated by a person named John Denham at Ryde to have recourse to a Judicial Hearing of the Complaint before the Magistrates of the Island on 23 Nov. last – and the said Magistrates have bound over the Soldier to prosecute Denham at the Quarter Sessions at Winchester which are to be held 15th next month. Captain Money humbly requests your Honors will please order James Waldron the Soldier to be supported at the Crowns expense in the proceedings. The Collector having intimated to the Inspecting Commander the expediency of appraising us in the first instance of all assaults and offensive conduct on the Preventive Coast Guard. It will be attended to in future and which would have been done by him in the present case had he been fully aware of the necessity of it.


31 December 1822        Mr Stephens our Tidesurveyor whose activity since his appointment in March 1821 has been the means of making several good Seizures but who finds his execution cramped from want of a little more authority in the Boat when he himself is unavoidably absent, humbly submits to your Honors for the cause adjoined in the within representation that your Honors will be pleased to reward the services of Jacob Leale, who has been a Commissioned Boatman in the Tidesurveyors Boat for many years and who is a very competent and active man, with a Deputation as a Sitter of the said Boat and that he may be allowed to employ William Abraham, a Trusty Glutman, and good rower in lieu of Leale, submitted to be promoted to the place of Sitter, on which we have to respectfully observe that since the Return of Peace this Port has been much resorted to by Ships and Vessels of all Nations for Supplies and orders for their ultimate destinations, nearly 200 arriving annually in the Roadstead and all being subject to examination and Rummage, the Duty of the Tidesurveyor and his Boatmen becoming arduous & laborious and as it is now important for the Security of the Health of this Country and the Safety of the Revenue that it should be strictly and rigidly executed & we beg to recommend the Tidesurveyors appeal to your Honors for favourable consideration. It appears on reference to the Return of Seizures within the last and present year that me Stephens has been instrumental in Seizing to the Warehouse for prosecution since March 1821 400 Casks of Spirits, 1 Man, 311 lb Tobacco, 70 lb Tea, 4 Boats and sundry Silk Goods besides stopping the ship Aurora laden with Tobacco in small packages & as we cannot overestimate his facility to detect Contraband Tobacco will be improved by having an additional Boatman as proposed we feel we are acting conscientiously in recommending to your Honors the Approval of such a proposal.  


6 January 1823              In obedience to your Order of 2 Inst. reporting Joseph Goulder, a prisoner in Winchester Gaol, we report that Goulder a Pauper and his Wife and Children now receive Parish Allowance for their support and is unable to pay any portion of the Penalty against him, but from being a man of fair character and industrious habits Mr Thomas White Ship Builder of West Cowes with whom he has worked several years as a Surveyor offers to be Security in the Penalty sum of £20 – that he shall not be Guilty of the like or any Offence against the Revenue hereafter.


6 January 1823              In obedience to your order of the 3 Inst. signifying that your Honors had placed Thomas Love, a Tidewaiter at this Port, on the Superannuation List from the 3rd Instant, we report in conformity to the Honorable Board’s General Order 26 August 1817 that from the frequency of foreign arrivals in the Roadstead and Harbour and the number of established Tidewaiters being only 9 – it is absolutely necessary to fill up the vacancy occasioned by Thomas Love’s Superannuation.


8 January 1823              In obedience to your Order I proceeded to Fishbourne yesterday & inspected the Watch Vessel whose state I have to report that the deck having had nothing done to it since 22 February 1822 when the vessel was removed from Cowes to that place wants some slight repairs, caulking & paying, to prevent the rain water from oozing into the hold, that the plank sheer or outer skirting board to the newly raised cabin on the vessels deck is defective & wants repair or a new board substituted, that the top of the aft cabin & some outside caulking above & below the bends, the late tempestuous Gales having affected the oakum in many parts of her, though partially, all which when completed & which I should think might be done for about £15 will render her with proper care hereafter a very serviceable vessel for many years. Fishbourne is the spot that I submit from the things that have taken place since the removal of the Coast Guard to Cowes must have a stationary watch force, it being impossible for the Quarantine Cutter with the mixed duty for her to perform to protect the whole line of coast from Norris Castle (Lord Seymour’s residence) near Cowes to Ryde. With the repairs I have suggested & a dock dug out about four feet deep in the very position she now lies in, will make her a useful watch vessel (or even a Watch House) as any in the employ, & provided the Boats crew who may be attached to her will that good will & determination to meet your Honors Orders with that spirit of obedience & activity that all who receive appointments from your Honors should do. [This appears to have resulted from a letter to the Board from Mr Bore of the Roebuck.]


14 January 1823            As directed by your Order 9 Inst. on the accompanying papers respecting the conduct of John Denham towards James Waldron a Private in the 67th Regiment, we have this day investigated the matter, Walton and the Denhams, Father & Son being present when it resulted from the Testimony of the Soldier that as he was passing up through the High Street in the evening of Thursday 21st November last to his go to his Billett at the Black Horse Public House about 6 o’clock he was met by John Denham who pushed against him with great force hailing him with what you bloody Soldier so you jostle me? Soldier said no, I did not jostle you on which Denham lifted his hand and struck him a blow on the neck. The Corporal who was with him (but is now on his route to the West Indies) called to him and told him not to mind the man and Waldron accordingly walked on with the Corporal about 20 yards up the street when Denham came up to him and himself in a squaring fighting posture and on the Corporal saying to Waldron come along, Denham swore he would knock the Corporals head off and which time several of the Towns People coming up, they held fast Denham and the Soldier and Corporal retreated to their Billett, and the next morning reported all circumstance to Captain Money the Inspecting Commander. These allegations not being denied by John Denham, he humbly throws himself on your Honors mercy and is willing under your Honors approbation of making a compensation to the Soldier for the treatment given and consequential expenses of £3 – which as the Father and Son express great sorrow about what happened, and under all circumstances the Soldier not being in immediate execution of Public Duty, we beg to recommend may be approved by your Honors.

Waldron was Ordered to Scotland with a Security Party, but in consequence of the Business he was retained to give Evidence, he has therefore been at some additional expense in attending the Guildhall, Newport and the Custom House 2 or 3 times. [The Board agreed to this proposal, and £1 plus £1 expenses was lodged with the Collector. Waldron’s Commanding Officer appears to have raised some objection, but the outcome is unknown.]


16 January 1823            In obedience to your General Order on the state of Trade at this Port, the changes of management and the possibility of any reductions consistent with the security of the revenue, we report that since our return of 14 July last from the reconciliation which has taken place between France and America, whereby American Ships are admitted into French Ports, there has been a decrease of nine in the number of American cargoes discharged under the Warehousing Regulations, but there is little variation otherwise in the General state of Imports and Exports, though the coasting trade at Cowes and the Creeks of Newport, Yarmouth and Ryde is on the increase.

On the changes of management, we have to state that the amount of payment to Day Pay Officers is less than in the proceeding half years by £66 – 11 – 0 owing to the cessation of American importations as before observed, and to the practice of the Tide Surveyor now placing a single Tidewaiter on certain ships instead of two as was formerly the custom, conforming to your Honors instructions.

The Crowns premises having wanted repairs and some necessary alterations in the Watch House for seized goods having been effected there has been an increase in incidental Bills to £43 – 6 – 8.

Since the abolition of the position of Coastwaiter at Cowes, the 20 March 1822, a considerable increase of duty has been experienced by the Landing Waiters who by your Order 28 February last were directed to execute the Duties of the abolished Office in addition to their own; and the Landing Surveyor uniting the Office of Jerquer, Principal Surveyor of the Watch House, Surveyor of Customs and Searcher and those of Assistant Land Waiter and Surveyor of Warehouses we cannot recommend a reduction of either of those appointments, but we feel it right to reiterate to your Honors that the Warehousekeeper for Bonded Goods who has no other duty blended with his office, receiving a salary of £100 per annum and who we cannot but consider a supernumerary Officer should be provided for elsewhere and the warehouse duty and accounts be transferred to the Long Room department as suggested before by us.


17 January 1823            Annexed is Mr Borham’s explanation of the cause of withholding one Third of the Reward on a Seizure made by him the 21 December 1821 near the Knab Light at Bembridge when he sent to Captain Bore for the assistance of the Quarantine Tender to aid him in raising the Sunken Goods. He was in hope under the encouragement given him by Captain Worsley his then Inspecting Commander and from the Peculiar Circumstances and Severity of the Weather attending the Seizure that the Crown would have Rewarded Captain Bore for his assistance but he will immediately pay the one Third proportion of the Reward received should it be your Honors pleasure that he so should do.


21 January 1823            In obedience to your order on the state of Smuggling within this Port, and for such suggestions as we may have to offer for the more effective Suppression thereof, we have to report from every source of information we have consulted and from our own knowledge of parties, vessels and boats engaged in illicit pursuits, we consider the state of the Contraband Traffic on the Coast of the Isle of Wight and within its Waters as great, if not greater than any former period we can remember. The parties we allude to are the systematic Smugglers living at St Helens, Nettlestone and Yarmouth, seafaring people living at Ryde and Cowes and a portion of the Licenced Pilots, the latter of whom act their parts with as much secrecy as possible. Their vessels and boats will be found described in the accompanying list, three of which are ‘The Lord Nelson’, ‘Daniel’ and ‘Accommodation’ as well as several of the open or as the Smugglers emphatically term them ‘Act Boats’ have commenced their illicit activities since August last.

The undenied gain of the Smuggler viz. 500 per cent in selling an article in the Isle of Wight or coast of Hampshire for £2 – 2 which cost him in Cherbourg only 7/6, leaves no expectation of any relaxation in the enterprises of illicit traders, we therefore think it right to recommend that, in addition to the eight Coast Guard Boats we now have, two Cruizers should be immediately be stationed at the Western Extremity of our Port to Blockade the entrance to the Needles Passage and that two Cruizers (neither of which should be less than 80 tons, if 100 the better) should be kept cruising the Eastern Extremity to protect the line between Bembridge Ledge and Chichester Harbour for incursion of these daring Adventurers. With this additional Establishment we conceive the Isle of Wight and its contingencies would be well guarded; but what would aid the Home Guard most effectually and tend to frustrate the attempts of the Smuggling Traders in getting across the Channel would be to station three or four large sized Cutters about three or four leagues North and opposite Cherbourg to be kept Cruizing in a course east and west and a similar squadron of Fecamp, it being known that the Smugglers always leave French Ports in the morning so as to arrive on the Isle of Wight or Coast of England in the Evening Darks.

Being convinced of the Impolicy and Fallacy of giving rewards to people bringing small casks of Spirits to Officers of Customs, said to be picked up floating, but which Spirits in reality 6 times out of 7 are the parties own that bring them, we would suggest a Law should pass interdicting every person from picking up at sea or elsewhere any Spirits in prohibited packages under forfeiture of vessel and Penalty; it being an anomaly in Fiscal law that a person should be rewarded for bringing into the country an article which is absolutely prohibited. With the addition to the force above humbly suggested and a continuation of the zealous and active exertions of the Coast Guard on this Station (who have not taken less than 1350 Casks and several men since August last) we have reason to believe this Port and its limits will be well protected against Contraband Adventurers as it can be.


23 January 1823            The vessel having been drifted high on the shore by the effects of a very extraordinary High Tide in March last, Ways must be placed under her Bottom to launch her to the Water from her present position – when that is done, she may be easily, if your Honors approve, be towed to Cowes by some Revenue Cutter or Hired Vessel. We have endeavoured to ascertain the expense of the Operation of Launching, from Mr List the Ship Builder at Fishbourne, near whose yard she now lies, but as your Honors will see by the annexed Letter, he seems not able to state the exact expense. [This relates to the accommodation Hoy at Fishbourne.]


27 January 1823            The Watch & Boat House at Shanklin having been saved from impending downfall & we have no doubt, permanently secured, by the timely construction of a breakwater in front of the ground and building in pursuance of your Order 15 Nov. last, inclosed we transmit the Surveyor Mr. Joseph Andrew’s charge for superintending & directing the work in question, amounting to £10 – 5 – 0 which we humbly submit may be allowed as we are satisfied the attendance stated was given & that his knowledge in the undertaking was most essential.


8 February 1823            The Casks were all in good condition when shipped here in the “Newport Trader” but it is possible that the very tempestuous weather this vessel met with on her passage (having been forced twice back by violent S E Gales of Wind) might have caused injury to the casks & consequent leakage.


8 February 1823            In reference to your minute of 24 Ult. on a tender made by Mr Brading for building some Cottages for Coast Guard accommodation at Atherfield & directing us to enquire whether some ground eligibly situated cannot be obtained by the Government whereon to erect the cottages, we report that the land contiguous to the present Watch House belongs to a Mrs Bennett and that her Steward Mr Sewell informs us he cannot alienate any of this property nor let a lease more than 21 years, she having only a life interest in the Estate; that the next eligible land is at ¾ mile distant & belongs to a Mr Morris who is willing to sell a small Freehold plot of about ¾ of an Acre for £100.


13 February 1823           On receipt of your Honors Order of 9th January on the state of health of Mr Henry Shepherd Coastwaiter at Yarmouth in this Port & directing us to acquaint him that if he did not return to his duty within one month or shew sufficient cause to the contrary, your Honors would proceed with his suspension. We duly acquainted Mr Shepherd with the contents of the said Order, and he, not having returned to his Duty at Yarmouth within the appointed time, he has sent us the Inclosed Memorial with a request that it might be forwarded to your Honors. [Signed by William Smith, Acting Collector as the Collector was on leave.]


21 February 1823           Within is the Seizing Officer’s Report of the articles in question, proving that the intention to run the same was most deliberate, add to which about 18 months ago, the Applicant, Mr Long, had a Boat seized for taking out a jar of Coffee from a Ship in Cowes Roads for the restoration of which under your Honors Order he paid 2 Guineas. The Pumpkin & Canes which are of an Inferior sort may be worth together 1 Guinea & the Boat £5.


25 February 1823           Herewith we transmit the Lease of the land on which the Watch & Boat House at St. Lawrence stand, and we report in reference to an observation by the Clerk of Works “that the extent of Ground specified is sufficient for the Buildings required” that it would be a most imprudent step to build thereon as the space now is very contracted in depth & the high water spring tides approach & wash the walls of the present Watch House to the great inconvenience, at times, of those within the building. Before Mr Pelham left the Island the Collector had the pleasure of walking over his lands at St Lawrence with him & observing it was possible for your Honors would soon want some land to build on, he then pointed out a particular piece of ground of about an Acre which he said he had no objection to let to your Honors for erecting the Cottages on a similar Lease to that which on which the Watch House is built, but that he should decidedly object to any building being put up nearer the cottages or within site of it, that the piece of land pointed out by Mr Pelham, from its contiguity to the Watch House & having an open view to the Sea can, we humbly submit, hardly be more eligible.


26 February 1823           On our report of 13 Ult. on a former similar Petition, to which we respectfully submit a reference to your Honors were pleased by your Order of 15 Ult. to direct us to prosecute in the Exchequer the Seizure of 13 Silk Handkerchiefs. We have only to add that the Handkerchiefs in question were all new – never worn or used and appear purposely hemmed for the sake of deception.

If the Doctrine which Ensign Caldwell sets up viz. because they formed part of his personal baggage he is entitle by every principle of Justice to have them it is to be submitted there is no knowing to what extent prohibited articles may find their introduction into this Country under the denomination of wearing apparel. [The value of the 13 Handkerchiefs was given as £3 – 5.]


27 February 1823           Matthias Midlane of Newport in this Island having voluntarily given an Information relative to a Smuggling Transaction of the Vessel “Bacchus” of Portsmouth which took place in July last we have received from Midlane an Affidavit of the circumstances sworn before a Commissioner in the Court of the Exchequer, & submit the same inclosed to your Honors.

And with respect to the particulars required to be stated by your Honors General Order 3 July 1818 we have to report that we have long known the Informer & always considered him a man of fair character, that he was formerly a Seaman in the Navy & received a pension from Greenwich Hospital, and from enquiries we have made we learn that his motive for giving the Information arose from a quarrel between him & the registered owners of the Vessel on account of the non payment of a Debt which he considers due to him, he having a small share, though not by Registration, of the Vessel. The Bacchus being one of the notorious Smuggling Craft which systematically employed between Cherburgh & the Isle of Wight & George Dyer having been arrested by a Capias in the year 1817 & remained more than twelve months in Winchester Gaol, we have no doubt of the truth of the Transaction sworn to and the Affidavit is respectfully transmitted.


28 February 1823           The Annual Average of the Quantity of Coals delivered at the Creek of Yarmouth within this Port is 1100 Chaldrons and the annual Expenses allowed in consequence under the Honorable Boards Order of 23 September 1819 is £2 – 8 – 0.


3 March 1823                Mr Robert Lydall Coastwaiter at Ryde within this Port having captured a man named William Milton with 5 Bladders containing 2¼ Galls of Foreign Brandy concealed about his person, the Collector on the 1st Instant prosecuted Milton before the Justices for the Penalty of £100 he not being fit for the Navy and the fact being clearly proved the Defendant was convicted in the said Penalty & committed in default of payment to Winchester Gaol.


8 March 1823                In obedience to your Order of 20th Ult. directing the removal of William Brown a Tidewaiter from Hull to fill the vacancy at his Port occasioned by the Superannuation of William Love, we have to report that this day we have admitted said person to his official duty.


11 March 1823               Annexed we submit the Tidesurveyors report on the Transaction alluded to in Lieut. Foster’s letter & also a statement from the Pilot Mr George Corke who picked up the Cask of Spirits, on which in the first instance we submit our unqualified belief that not a Shadow of suspicion exists as to any collusion or improper conduct between the Tidesurveyor and the Pilot; and the next instance we submit that as the 2nd Sec. 1 & 2nd Geo. 4 Ch 43 grants the rewards to persons bringing the articles found at Sea, into port; the Tidesurveyor, whose station is Cowes Harbour was the proper person for Corke to deliver the Spirits to for their due conveyance to the Custom House & not to the Commander of the Hound, whose Cutter was lying at Anchor in the roadstead, to the eastward of the Harbour Mouth, had the Hound met the Pilot Vessel between Cowes Castle and the Needles, or been lying at anchor at any intermediate place, we should then say Lieut. Foster’s claim to the delivery of Spirits would have been perfectly just and within the reasoning & letter of the Honorable Board’s General Order 2 May 1817. On the principle of Rewards to people picking up Spirits at Sea, we submitted our objections to it in our own report to your Honors 21 January 1823 on the state of Smuggling & if it is to be continued, the Rewards might be modified to about 5/- for every ½ Anker containing 3½ Galls. of average good strength delivered to the Custom House, reflecting the 3rd Sec. already quoted, entirely. 


19 March 1823               The Petitioner was convicted of a Smuggling offence 1st Inst. which we appraised your Honors on 3 Inst. The Transaction of itself was not considered of any magnitude neither could it be placed before the Justices that Milton was a systematic Smuggler under which circumstances we humbly submit if your Honors may not be pleased to recommend the Petition to a favorable consideration. The Charges of prosecution before the Justices was £1 – 18 – 6.


19 March 1823               With reference to your Honors Order 10 Inst. we have to state that on the receipt of said Order we immediately wrote to Mr Shepherd calling on him to explain his statement of having received £40 per annum as Coalmeter & not having obtained any answer we concluded that he must be either sick, or removed from Wareham, in order to ascertain which we have written this day to the Collector & Comptroller at Poole, and the moment they receive their reply or Mr Shepherds answer we shall not fail to report the same to your Honors.


21 March 1823               Having now received Mr Shepherd’s answer to your Honors Order of 10 Inst. on the subject of his Emoluments as Coalmeter at Wareham, we transmit the same inclosed from which it appears he reconciles the apparent difference as follows – viz:

Average allowance from the Crown                     £10

Do. of 4d per Chaldron from the Merchant          £20

Do. for Travelling from the Crown                       £5

Do. for Substistence                                         £5

making a total of £40 per annum as stated in his Petition.


22 March 1823               On the Petition of Susan, Widow of Samuel Horne for a Pension.

The deceased belonged to the Phædra & met his death on the 21 October last in the deplorable way stated in accompanying papers. He was in possession of a capture without the means of averting the Fate he saw approaching & may be truly said to die in the Service & at his post. [No further details are available about the circumstances of his death. Phædra appears to have been a Coast Guard Cruizer in 1822. Its base is not known, but was under the control of the Collector at Cowes.]


24 March 1823               We transmit for your Honors information, copy of a report of a Smuggling Transaction addressed to us by Lieut. Bevis, Commander of the Ranger Revenue Cutter which took place on the night of 20 Instant abreast of Hurst Castle.

The Albion No. 34 named in said report which forced the passage of the narrows at Hurst, in spite of Officers calls & the firing to bring her to is licensed by the Corporation of Trinity House, London for the purpose of piloting only, but from common reports we have some time had cause to suspect she was not confined by her owners to such pursuit & accordingly recommended her motions to be closely watched by the Coast Guard. The 18 Casks of Spirits found near the Albion after she had hove to there is no doubt came out of her, but in the absence of proof to such fact we consider it must be presumptive; if however your Honors should deem the conduct of the parties on board as coming within 45 Sec. 52 G3 Ch. 59, we submit if the Honorable Board may not think it fit to move the Corporation to inflict the punishment. The persons forming the crew of the Albion at the time of the Transaction detailed by Lieut. Bevis are:

George Reed                Part owner & Licensed 1st Class Pilot No. 34.

John Denton                 Licensed 2nd Class Pilot No. 13, not owner.

Isaac Blandford             Part Owner & Master. No Pilot & this man is shot through the fleshy part of the left arm – bone not touched – wound going on favourably.

Richard Netter               Seaman, no Pilot.

The embarrassment that the Vessel Albion felt from the unexpected appearance of the Cutters Boats in the night of the 20th when passing the narrows at Hurst with their crops an board, proves obviously the policy of having a constant blockading force at the western extremity of the Wight with a similar force at the eastern as none of the Smugglers could then get within the Wight without running the Gauntlet of the Cruizers and their boats & afterwards those of the Coast Guard.

Nearly all the I Wight Smugglers left the Coast yesterday for Cherburgh.

25 March 1823               In obedience to your Order 18 Inst. signifying that your Honors had placed Mr William Robey, Riding Officer at this Port on the Compensation List at an allowance of £65 per annum – We called in said Robey’s Commission & Instructions, and in conformity to the Honorable Boards General Order 26 August 1817 on the necessity of filling the vacancy, we humbly submit that the Coast Guard Force for this Island consists of Eight Boats with Seventy Two persons attached thereto there seems no necessity for filling up the vacancy in question.


29 March 1823  On your Honors refusing a Petition to us from William Milton the 18th Inst wherein he prayed to be released from prison, we make a report and it appearing from enquiries we have since made respecting the Transaction that the young Man is not a regular Smuggler but that there is reason to believe he was deluded into the act which subjected him to prosecution and Fine – we humbly take leave to recommend his case to your Honors clemency.


8 April 1823                   John Baker a Mariner of the Repulse Revenue Cutter, Mr J Williams Commander, having on 31st March last captured a Man named Daniel Brading whilst having in custody on the shore ninety Casks of Foreign Spirits, the Collector on Saturday prosecuted the said Brading before the Magistrates for the Penalty of £100, but it appearing that the Defendant who is a Labourer in the service of a Farmer in the Neighbourhood having observed a raft of Tubs floating on the shore went to secure them in order to convey them to the Custom House to obtain the usual reward & that he had actually sent for a Boat for such purpose, the Magistrates refused to convict him & he was accordingly discharged.


11 April 1823                 The Petitioner William Milton (who was convicted 1st March last) has twice petitioned the Lords of the Treasury to be released on payment of £25 which his Friends are willing to advance to our reports on which we pray your Honors reference. Should it not be your Honors pleasure to recommend his liberation, we humbly submit that as he is in poor circumstances he may receive the usual Gaol Allowance from the Collector at Southampton.


24 April 1823                 James Jewell one of the Coast Guard Boatmen under Mr Borham, Chief Officer at Bembridge, having captured on the 13 Inst. William Marsh in the Act of Smuggling prohibited Spirits, the Collector on the 19 Inst. prosecuted the said Marsh before a Bench of Magistrates at Newport and they having found him Guilty and being a fit and able Man for his Majesty’s Naval Service – we report for your Honors information will be forthwith conveyed to the Queen Charlotte Man of War at Portsmouth accompanied by a copy of the Magistrates Conviction.


24 April 1823                 The Tide Surveyor having been obliged to ascertain the cause of Death amongst the crews of 5 transient ships which have arrived at this Port in the Quarter ending 5 inst, inclosed we transmit the Bill of Messrs Bowen and David, Surgeons who visited the ships amounting to £55 the payment of which is respectfully submitted.


25 April 1823                 John Webster having on 21 inst been taken at Yarmouth in this Port by Mr James Sammes, the Acting Coastwaiter, whilst containing a hamper containing 4 bottles of Foreign Geneva and 2 bottles of Wine, the Collector prosecuted Webster before two Magistrates at Newport for impressment into the Navy he being fit and able to serve therein, but it appearing in evidence that Webster, who was a servant of his Uncle was ignorant of the contents of the hamper and was only taking the same by his Masters order to a vessel to be carried to Lymington. The Defendant was accordingly acquitted and discharged.


25 April 1823                   [Thomas] Evans is of weakly constitution & appears to labour under great depression of Spirit & from such ailments is a quite unfit person for the Tidesurveyor’s Boat at this port, where strong young men are required for the Service – no less than 221 ships having arrived in the roadstead from foreign ports last year with the probability of an increase this. We would suggest for your Honors approval in case you should not think it proper to send him to an easier station, that the said Evans should be directed to be employed as a Tidewaiter at the same rate of pay as other Tidewaiters have & that the Tidesurveyor be permitted to select for the boat employ in lieu of Evans a strong, healthy, young Tidewaiter to be paid as Boatman.


28 April 1823                 Inclosed we transmit an account of proceedings before the Magistrates on 26th against Robert Brooks & James Hawkins. The first mentioned person Brooks was taken by William Jones a Boatman in the East Cowes Guard Boat under the following circumstances, in the evening of the 25th Inst. the Officer being on the look out at Egypt about a mile to the westwards of Cowes observed a Boat land on the beach & saw Casks handed out of the Boat & carried by some men, one of whom was the defendant to a neighbouring Wood; having pursued them into the wood he found Brooks lying on the ground with 2 casks of Brandy near him, whereon Brooks was taken into custody and the Collector on the 26th Inst. prosecuted him before the magistrates at Newport for the Penalty of £100, who on the evidence of Mr Jones convicted him in the said penalty & in default of payment committed him to Winchester Goal.

The case of James Hawkins is as follows – Lieut. Jones of the St Lawrence Coast Guard Station having seen Hawkins on board the Dart Smuggling Vessel obtained from the Rev. John Worsley, a Magistrate at Niton, a Warrant for the Arrest & Committal to prison of the said Hawkins together with Maurice Lock (who was also seen on board the Dart) in order to their being brought before the Magistrates on the 26th Inst. for an inquiry into Lieut. Jones Allegations against them. In virtue of this Warrant Hawkins & Lock were secured & the Collector at the request of Captain Money, Inspecting Commander, attended on Saturday last to prosecute the parties – Hawkins being a seafaring man, for impressments into the Navy & Lock for the Penalty of £100.

It was proved by the evidence of Lieut. Jones & the St Lawrence crew that on the morning of the 16th Inst. the Vessel Dart was seen hovering near the shore at Puckaster with about 42 small Casks on board (the contents of which were then unknown) that Hawkins & Lock were seen on board the Vessel; that the name Dart was seen on the Vessels stern; that the Vessel was well known for having two new cloths in her Mainsail; that some of the Casks were marked G & others CB (marks used by Smugglers to distinguish the two types of Spirits); that the Vessel was seen to enter Shanklin Bay, where she was observed & Tubs were seen showing on her Larboard side. It was also proved by the Shanklin Coast Guard crew that they saw the Tubs on board, saw something thrown overboard & observed a splash in the water – that at the place where the splash was made 41 Casks of Spirits were crept up & Seized – that the two new cloths were noticed in the Vessels mainsail & that there was no other Vessel or Boat in sight at the time except two Revenue Cruizers – but it being contended by Mr Manchin, a Solicitor employed by the defendant Hawkins, that as he was not found or taken on the Vessel he could not be convicted under the 43 Geo 3 Chap. 121 and moreover that there was no proof of the Vessel having Spirits on board, the Magistrates concurred with Mr Manchin that Hawkins was entitled to his discharge & acquitted & as the case of Lock was precisely similar, the Collector deemed it prudent to withdraw the Information laid against him.


28 April 1823                 In obedience to your Order of the 18th Inst. we have to report that on the 26th Inst. the Collector prosecuted James Clarke before the Justices for the Penalty of £100 for harbouring 5 lb of Coffee & 2½ lb Tobacco, but it appearing that the Goods were found in a back kitchen detached from the dwelling House & separated from it by a path frequented by other persons, the Magistrates coupling that circumstances & the door being found open did not see sufficient grounds to convict the defendant & he was discharged.


5 May 1823                   We have to report to your Honors the conviction of George Wadham, a notorious Smuggler and owner of the ‘Lord Nelson’, illicit trader of this Port by the Magistrates on the 3 inst. The particulars of his case are as follows – In the evening of 25 April last a boat was observed by William Jones, Commissioned Boatman of the East Cowes Revenue Boat to land at Egypt, about a mile to the westward of Cowes with some four men in her. Three of the men jumped out and were seen to take some small Casks out of the boat and two of them then carried them on their shoulders to a small wood. One, Brooks was captured by the Officers with two Casks of Spirit and convicted by the Magistrates in Penalty of £100 as reported to your Honors on 28 ultimo. Wadham, the other man who stood by the boat ran off but was met with the next morning in Cowes by William Jones, the Officer and having been captured managed to elude the vigilance of the Boats Crew and escaped from their Custody. Their endeavours, however, to regain their prisoner at length succeeded for they were fortunate enough to arrest him on Friday last at Portsmouth and having conveyed him before the Magistrates on the 3rd inst the Collector laid an Information of two counts against him agreeable to your Honors Order of 1st May and the fact of assisting in landing Spirits having been clearly proved and it appearing the Defendant was not bred to the sea, he was found guilty on the first count and consequently liable to the Penalty of £100 and not paying the same was committed to Winchester Gaol.


5 May 1823                   William Milton who was convicted of a Smuggling offence by the Magistrates of the Isle of Wight on 1 March last and committed to Winchester Gaol in default of paying the Penalty of £100 & who has repeatedly petitioned the Lords of the Treasury to be released on payment of £25; we are informed by Mr White, the Gaoler, paid the 3rd Inst. the full conviction Penalty of £100. The Collector has since obtained the Controlling Magistrate’s order for paying the sum to our hands which when paid will be divided between the Crown & Seizing Officer first deducting the £10 paid to R Lydale the capturing Officer under your Honors Order 9 April and a proportion of expenses of prosecution, which have been craved to be allowed in our General Account of Law Charges at the end of the last Quarter.

Feeling at a loss in what mode to appropriate the said deductions, we request your Honors will be pleased to signify to us if we shall be doing right to apply the £10, which has been paid out of Receipt of Duties, again to C.G Expenses & what proportion of the Expenses, the total of which is £1 – 18 – 6 should be remitted to the Solicitor.


6 May 1823                   On a petition from Benjamin Barter for the return of a boat seized.

Annexed is the Officers report on the case in question and believing the whole to be perfectly correct we fully agree to submit our humble opinion to your Honors that Mr Barter should look to Wadham for Indemnification for the loss of his Boat.


10 May 1823                 On the within Application of Messrs. LeFevre we have to report that 10 Dozen of Wine were duly examined by the Searcher and shipped on board the “Urania” Transport bound for the Cape of Good Hope for the use & consumption of Major Brock 55th Regiment during the voyage. That Messrs LeFevre produced to us at the time prescribed by 4 Sec 33 Geo 3 Ch 48, & another Certificate proving that the duties on the other two dozen were paid in the year 1818, consequently out of time for Drawback. We, therefore, could not do otherwise than refrain from making out debentures for the 10 Dozen Wine so shipped without your Honors Official directions.


19 May 1823                 The conviction was reported to your Honors the 5 May last and we consider him [George Wadham] able to pay the Penalty of £100 having been a regular & systematic Smuggler for some time & now owner of the Vessel Lord Nelson, & accordingly not of the description of a person entitle to Goal Allowance. [A Petition was submitted for release on payment of £50 on 30 May 1823. The Collectors reply was again not favourable.]


23 May 1823                 Captain Money, Inspecting Commander at Ryde, having informed us that Mr William Guy, a Riding Officer, has been removed to his District attached to the Bembridge Coast Guard Station. Inclosed we transmit an account of Expenses attending Mr Guy’s removal amounting to £1 – 5 – 0, the payment of which is respectfully submitted.


23 May 1823                 The conviction of William Marsh who was captured on the 13 April last by James Jewell of the Bembridge Coast Guard Station, was reported to your Honors in our letter 21 April & his impressment into the Navy is proved by the annexed Certificate of the Officers who received him on board the Guard Ship at Portsmouth. We therefore humbly submit the payment of the usual reward of £20.


26 May 1823                 The Fishbourne Galliott having been repaired and fitted pursuant to your Honors Orders 22 Ult., she will be quite ready for removal to Mevagissey on the first change of wind to the East.

Presuming it to be your Honors intention to cause her to be towed by one of the Revenue Cruizers to he Destination, we report that on mentioning the possibility of such an Order issuing to Captain Ferris last week he requested us to signify to your Honors that he shall be most ready to take charge of her to Mevagissey should it be your Honors pleasure he should so to do.


27 May 1823                 The Seizing Officer, Mr Stephens in consequence of the conviction of Mr Willis last term in the Court of the Exchequer, he having been adjudged to pay the penalty of £150 for the Smuggling Transaction in question, is entitled to the moiety, we humbly submit, of the net value of the 40 Casks of Spirits seized by him on Willis’s premises viz. £46 – 15 – 6 (£93 – 11 being the full value) and only £31 – 3 – 8 or 1/3rd being paid him, as will appear on reference to Seizure Sheet No. 2 for Lady day Quarter.


28 May 1823                 William Marsh, who has been known to be engaged in several illicit transactions at the East part of the Isle of Wight was observed by James Jewell, one of the Bembridge Boatman, to approach the shore near Nettlestone in a Wherry and on Marsh’s landing, Jewell placed himself in ambush to watch the proceedings and saw him and another man who escaped go to a spot in the cliff and occupy themselves in taking something from the bushes. The Parties were afterwards seen to go towards the shore where the wherry lay with each a Handkerchief in his hand, but discovering Jewell they hid the Handkerchief under a Rock. Jewell however keeping his eye on the Rock after some search found 3 1/8 gallons of Brandy in 4 Bladders and taking Marsh immediately after he was prosecuted by the Collector 21 April last before the Justices, found guilty and sent on board a Man of War. The conduct of Jewell we humbly submit in detecting the illicit transaction and capturing Marsh was highly meritorious and entitles him to your Honors fullest approbation.   


28 May 1823                 The number of miles is inserted as directed and we report that there is no public conveyance from Southampton to Winchester except early in the morning and late in the afternoon & evening. The fare for each person is 5/0 consequently the hire of a Gig for two persons and to bring the Constable back appears to be the cheapest mode of conveying the prisoner immediately to Gaol on his landing at Southampton. 


30 May 1823     Petition from Thomas Willis for an Allowance for Medical Assistance in the Fleet Prison

The Petitioner was prosecuted in the Court of the Exchequer in the last term for the treble value of the Goods found at his premises. We have no reason whatever to doubt his ability to pay the sum if he should choose to do so, we consider the cause of his not doing so is the delusive hope that his confinement for the Offence will be commuted.


12 June 1823                 Thomas Evans whose removal from Margate to this port by your Honors Order 2 January last having delivered the within Account of Expenses in removing himself & his family hither stating it had been signified to the Collector & Comptroller of Ramsgate that he would be at liberty to claim the same on his arrival at Cowes, we transmit it to your Honors.


27 June 1823     On a Petition from Mr Carter praying the Board to stay proceedings against Robert Caws of Nettlestone.

For the facts of this case we respectfully refer your Honors to our letter of 11 December 1822 and to the Affidavit given by Messrs. Borham, Tuck, Osborne, Burchett & Nanscawen the 15 December 1822 which we presume are now in Mr Remmett’s office.

Mr Borham being a very respectable Officer & possessing the confidence of ourselves & the Inspecting Commander Captain Money & no part of his Official Conduct having ever to our knowledge subjected him to reproval or censure & the crew he has under him being very orderly correct people, we cannot withdraw the smallest portion of the belief we first gave to the Depositions they respectively gave against Robert Caws, who in no way detours from his illegal pursuits by having been twice convicted of smuggling & each time paid the Penalty, besides being deprived of his Trinity License for each offence, keeps a pop shop for retailing Smuggled Spirits at Nettlestone where Farm Servants & others are in the habit of resorting to at all hours to the manifest injury of the Revenue & the Fair Trader.

The proceedings commenced against John Cole, who was with Caws at the time of the Assault, having been abandoned, leaves the Petitioner no grounds for complaint of illiberaltity in depriving him of the Testing of (as he stated) an essential witness; so far therefore from yielding to Mr Carter’s appeal in favour of the defendant we are of the opinion that justice to the Bembridge Officer Mr Borham & his crew that the offender Robert Caws requires that the Indictment should be proceeded in.


28 June 1823                 The applicant William Robey, late a Riding Officer stationed at Ryde was by your Honors Order 18 March last placed on the compensation list at an allowance of £65 per annum and directed to be paid at this Port. Since which he having removed to Chichester where his Friends reside we submit that your Honours grant his request to receive his allowance from the Collector there, it would be a convenient arrangement to Mr Robey as well as ourselves.

1821 - 1822

1823 - 1826

Customs Cowes Letters Books

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

9 August 2009