Letters Book 1909 - 1912

Extracts from the Book held at the Isle of Wight Records Office

Transcribed entries are in Black, entries in Blue relate to other material included the Book, which has not specifically been transcribed. Entries in Italics reflect some degree of uncertainty.

Unless otherwise stated the Letters are signed by Collector and J Stephens

Much of the correspondence in this book related to discharge at unapproved places, Customs vacancies, claims for remission of duty on deficiencies (mainly by W.B. Mew Langton) and the building of ships for governments (British and Foreign). These have not been included in detail. Certain pages in the book are illegible  as they are faded beyond recognition.


29 November 1909         System of attendance for examination of baggage landed from Incoming Passenger Vessels.

A passenger steamer belonging to the Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Steam Packet Company, Limited, which makes voyage to Cherbourg and very occasionally to other Continental Ports, during the summer months, is the only one that lands vessels from Foreign within the Port of Cowes. These voyages being confined to advertised day excursions, the baggage brought by passengers is minimal.

The vessel starts from Southampton on each occasion and calls at either Southsea and Shanklin or Cowes, Yarmouth and Bournemouth but some of those places are occasionally omitted according to the advertisement. The places of call within the Port of Cowes are Cowes, Yarmouth and Shanklin.

All these Piers are unapproved places and on the request of the Company on each occasion, arrangements are made by the Collector, Cowes for the attendance of the necessary Officers at Cowes and Yarmouth and the Collector at Portsmouth for those necessary at Shanklin.

It may be mentioned that the vessel on her return journey on the Cowes, Yarmouth and Bournemouth route takes passengers at Bournemouth for Yarmouth and Cowes, and these, so far as the examination of baggage is concerned, are treated as is they came from Cherbourg.

The number of passengers landed at those three places averages 30 at Cowes, 25 at Yarmouth and 90 at Sandown, the passengers shipped at Bournemouth being included in the averages for Cowes and Yarmouth.


Cowes  The vessel is due at Cowes at about 10pm and the attendance for the examination of the baggage is given by the Preventive Officer and one Preventive Man both called out specially for the purpose. The number of arrivals at Cowes during the last few years was 4 in 1906, 5 in 1907, 3 in 1908 and 1 in 1909 and the two Officers were paid by the Company two hours overtime on each occasion, with the exception of one case in 1907, when on account of the vessel being late it amounted to one hour more. I have been unable to trace any Board’s order governing the practice at Cowes, but this arrangement has been made since 1902, about the time of the opening of the Victoria Pier where the passengers are landed.

Yarmouth          The vessel is due at Yarmouth about 8pm and the baggage is examined by the Chief Officer of the Coastguard who is in receipt of an annual allowance of £5 for performing the Customs work there, but no charge is made for his attendance. An occasional visit is made by an Officer from Cowes whose travelling expenses and overtime for the time he is absent from Cowes are paid by the Company. During the last four years the arrivals were 1 in 1906 and 1 in 1908, and on both occasions a Preventive Man attended from Cowes, his travelling expenses being 1s 9d in each case and his overtime 5 hours – 3s 4d in 1906  and 4 hours – 2s 8d in 1908. The practice at Yarmouth is governed by B.O. 11012/1905.

Shanklin            The vessel is due at Shanklin at about 8pm and the examination of the baggage is undertaken by the Preventive Officer stationed at Ryde Pier assisted when necessary by a Coastguardsman at Shanklin. The Company pay travelling expenses of the Ryde Preventive Officer and overtime for the number of hours he is absent from Ryde. During the last four years the arrivals at Shanklin were 4 in 1906, 5 in 1907, 5 in 1908 and 8 in 1909, as the Officer was paid by the Company his travelling expenses – 1s 5d – and 4 hours overtime – 6s/- – on each occasion. The Preventive Officer at Ryde belongs to the Portsmouth Staff and the arrangements for Shanklin are made by the Collector at Portsmouth. This practice is governed by B.O. 8986/1897.


7 December 1909                               Mr W Jennings, Assistant applied for a transfer to Newry in the event of his application for transfer Belfast not being granted. (The Board stated his application would be ‘noted for consideration with others on occurrence of vacancies’.)


7 December 1909           Report on the action which Merchants are taking under the Public Notice circulated with Customs General Order 41/1909.

Messrs Dear and Morgan of Cowes, cleared from No. 1 Warehouse on the 4th Instant, 10 cases containing 15.80 proof gallons of B.P. Spirit, on which they paid £8 – 13 / 9 the pre-budget duty, and £2 – 19 / 3, the amount of addition of duty.

These are the only dutiable goods cleared at this Port since the 4th Instant, inclusive.


9 December 1909           I beg to report that a Motor Mail Boat – Yard No. 1307 constructed at this Port by J Samuel White & Co Limited, for the Crown Agents, Lagos, South Nigeria, left Cowes under her own power on Saturday 4th Instant. I have today reported her departure on Form 404 to the Secretary to the Admiralty as director by Confidential Circular No. 51 of 1909.


13 December 1909         I beg to inform you, in reply to your letter of the 11th Instant, that it is not the practice at this Port for bonded warehouses to be open for any purpose before or after official hours viz: 9am to 4pm.


30 December 1909             Increments for J Stephens, Collector from £335 to £350. William McPherson, Clerk 2nd Class, Upper Section from £250 to £260.


17 December 1909         The instructions recently issued in GO 41/1909 are working satisfactorily here, all the Merchants having made the required deposits on the duty goods cleared since the 4th Instant.

I am not however desirous of renewing my application for leave in the meantime, as it would not now be convenient.

I should have asked to have been relieved from my duties earlier in the year, but until the vacancy in the 2nd Officership had been filled and the new Officer had obtained some knowledge of his duties here I did not feel justified in doing so.

I shall however, be very grateful, if when financial matters have resumed their normal course, your Honours will be pleased to favourable consider an application for at least part of the I have raised during the current year.


22 December 1909         The amounts of duties received ex Warehouse at this Port during the year ending 30th November 1909 were:

            By Cash                        £   16 – 9 – 0

            By Cheque                    £7424 – 0 – 6

                                                £7440 – 9 – 6


30 December 1909             The Collector reported that a Draft Provisional Order for authoring a widening of Ventnor Pier and other provisions in connection therewith had been issued. The Board replied:

The provisions of the Harbour Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847, in so far as they affect Customs & Excise are incorporated in this Order by virtue of section 19 of the General Pier and Harbour Act, 1861, and virtually also by Clause 1 of the Order which provides that it shall be construed as one with the Ventnor Local Board Act, 1884, in which the above provisions are incorporated.

Clause 7 authorises the widening of the existing pier.

Clause 35 is the usual extending to Government Departments the benefits of Sections 28 & 99 of the Harbour Docks and Piers Clauses Act, 1847

I see no objection to the Order.

Bring forward if reference from the Treasury is received.


5 February 1910 I beg to report, as directed by Circular No. 25, that the Central system of weighing tobacco, under the Warehousing Code, paragraph 99, as amended by the Customs General Order 34/1908, has not been adopted at this Port.


1 March 1910                I enquired today at the office of the London & South Western Railway Company, who collected the package containing the transires for 1908, and was informed that it was despatched from Cowes the day of collection viz: 21st Ult.

The Agent here is enquiring as to the delay in delivery and I shall let you know the result as soon as I hear from him.


10 March 1910                     Increments for F Parsons, Preventive Officer from £135 to £140. W Jennings, Assistant from £85 to £90.


23 March 1910               On the examination for duty of two pipes of Port wine n.e. 42° in No. 4 Warehouse on the 19th Instant, a chargeable deficiency of 2 gallons was found on each cask, the duty on which amounts to 12/-.

This Warehouse, of which the applicants are the Proprietors and Occupiers, is never open unless an Officer is present and is examined fortnightly, the last being on the 8th Instant.

The two casks in question were stowed on the Upper Floor, which is excessively dry and exposed to the heat of summer.

I am satisfied that none of the loss has gone into consumption and that the deficiency is wholly due to excessively dry storage, and I respectfully submit that the duty may be remitted as requested.  (This was Mews warehouse and the claim was permitted.)


10 April 1910                 Letter from Advising Officer.       

As a result of a recent inspection of this motor boat, I find there is at least a further twelve months work left in the motor, without much expence in the matter of repair and renewal of moving parts.

In the circumstances, I advise the question of a clutch be postponed for another year, by which time an entirely new motor, or the greater proportion of one, will have to be provide, which could include a clutch.


12 April 1910                 A representative from Pickford Limited called here and asked for the despatches for dutiable stores, which had been brought for shipment on the yacht “Narcissus”. All those received were passed to him, but, as he did not seem to know whether these covered all the goods they had brought he was advised by Mr McPherson to ship the goods and direct the Steward of the yacht to produce all of them to the Shipping Officer. The goods were put on board and Mr Parsons, the Preventive Officer, on visiting the vessel certified to the shipment of the bonded dry goods which were intact, but found that all the cases of bottled goods had been opened and the bottles put away.

On the matter being reported to me I visited the yacht on the 20th December, and from an examination of the broken cases and by counting the bottles and testing the contents, was able to identify 4 cases of B.P. Spirits and 1 case of B. Compounded Spirits (Gin).

No reference was made to any Brandy being shipped by either the Master or the Steward.

On being called on for payment of the duty on the two cases in question, Pickfords representative called here, and I noticed on a list, which he had in his possession, that four cases of Brandy had been consigned to the vessel, and, as two of them must have been duty-paid, this may have somewhat confused the Steward.

It is not an uncommon practice to ship duty-paid along with bonded stores on yachts, but, had the Steward not acted so hastily in opening the cases and putting the bottles away before production, the Shipping Officer would undoubtedly have noticed the brandy and taken particulars sufficient for him to subsequently certify shipment.


15 April 1910                 The case of tobacco referred to contained 5.55 lb net and was consigned by Forbes Lugard Smith and not Carvers & Co.

The goods were identified on board by the Shipping Officer on 22nd February, but, as the Collector at Portsmouth had previous advised me that the shipment of tobacco duty free on H.M.S. “Eclipse” was under your Honours’ consideration, the shipping papers were retained until the receipt of your Order 21094/1910 when they were filed and Mr Lugard Smith informed that the drawback could not be paid.

P.S. The Shipping Officer states from remarks made on board the “Eclipse” that the Officers were aware that there was a likelihood of their having to pay the duty on the stores shipped. (There appears to have been considerable correspondence between the Collector Portsmouth and the Board concerning the supply of duty free stores to H.M.S. Eclipse, which was apparently a training vessel attached to the Royal Naval College at Osborne.)


29 April 1910                 I beg to report that Alfred James Henry Titheridge appearing to satisfy the requirement set forth under Headings II, III & IV of the copy of Qualifications of Candidates for appointment of Preventive Men in the service, I arranged for his examination to commence at 10 am today.

I transmit herewith the Examination in the sealed packet, Form A in duplicate filled up by Titheridge, a copy of his report, and a statement from the Preventive Officer here that Titheridge has been subjected to a practical test in the management of a boat.

(1)        Titheridge’s health appears to be such as to enable him to perform satisfactorily the duties of the office to which he has been nominated;

(2)        He has not, so far as I am aware, been guilty of any offence against the Revenue Laws;

(3)        There is no reason to doubt that he is free from pecuniary difficulties; and

(4)        No matter has come to my knowledge tending to disqualify him from admission to the Service. Titheridge informs me that he was successfully vaccinated before entering the service of the Post Office as a Messenger on 3rd February 1908.

His chest girth has been taken by Wilford’s Chest Measure and found to be 32/34, mean 33; and his height is 5 ft 5¾ in. (The Board replied ‘The Board appoints Albert Titheridge to fill the vacancy of Preventive Man, London. Note the Appointment Book and Vacancy List. The Collector at Cowes will instruct Titheridge to proceed to London, & on arrival at that Port the Waterguard Inspector will place him on probation for 12 months, reporting the date of his first appointment’.)


17 May 1910                 Steam Yacht “Abafora”, O.N. 71892

I received today by post from Constantinople the accompanying documents:-

1.         Certificate of Registry

2.         Copy of the Probate of the Will of the late Sir James William Whittall, the Registered Owner, and

3.         A request by two of the Executors to close the British Registry of sale of the vessel to a Foreigner (Turkish Subject).

As I have never seen a similar case, I shall be much obliged by your kindly advising me whether I may accept this evidence as sufficient to close the Registry.

I annex Form 19 shewing the present state of the Registry.


24 May 1910                 This is from a seizure report form sent to the Board, only the handwritten part is shown in the book - 23 May 1910 11 pm Steam Yacht Honor from Gibraltar, Arthur Le Count, Foreman 10/100 Gallon Perfumed Spirit in 2 bottles, concealed partly in brackets holding the cylinder traveller at the roof of the engine-room accessible only by means of a 20 foot ladder, and partly under a large quantity of firebricks behind the donkey boiler in the stokehold. Offender was offered and accepted the option of depositing treble value and duty (£4 1s 5d) in lieu of proceedings before the Magistrates. Officers involved, W J Jennings, Assistant-in-Charge, W J Jennings, W G Geeves, Preventive Man (Detecting Officer), C A Fry, Preventive Man, J Doherty, Preventive Man, (Detecting Officer, the seizure and deposit were confirmed.)


1 June 1910                   I request a duly qualified Examination Officer to act as 2nd Officer, to assist with the clerical work in the Long Room, and to perform the gauging and general warehouse of Mr McPherson, Clerk & Examining Officer who I submit may act as Collector and Surveyor during my absence. My work is free from arrears. (Mr Archibald Murchie was appointed from London.)


1 June 1910                   I beg to transmit herewith from Preventive Man W G Geeves, for appointment as Preventive Officer, Lower Section, to Yarmouth, Lowestoft or any port on the South or South West Coast excluding Dover or Newhaven.

He was transferred from Hull to Cowes in October, 1907 at his own request for the benefit of his wife’s health. She is suffering from Consumption but has greatly improved since coming here.

Geeves does not desire a transfer in his present capacity. He was on the last list of Preventive Men who qualified for promotion to Preventive Officer, Lower Section, and was offered an appointment to that rank in London in September last. This, however, he declined, as he is afraid his wife’s health may suffer from having to reside in a Port that does not agree with her. For that reason he now asks that his appointment as Preventive Office, Lower Class, may be made, if possible, to any of the Ports he specified.

Geeves is a good and deserving Officer and I submit his application for your Honour’s favourable consideration.

18 August 1910   From the Board           

I am desired to enquire whether William G Geeves. Preventive Man at your Port, still maintains the character assigned to him in the last return of Ages and Capacities, and, if so, whether he would be prepared to accept promotion to Preventive Officer, Lower Section, at Southampton under the conditions laid down in paragraph 185 of the Establishment Code (as amended by GO 85/1906) should the Board decide to promote him to that Port.

Should Mr Geeves be unwilling to accept promotion to Southampton, he must clearly understand that the Board could not undertake to promote him to the first or any subsequent vacancy at any particular port, that his promotion may be delayed for an indefinite period & that he would only rank for seniority as a Preventive Officer, Lower Section from the date of his actual appointment.

This letter must not be read as a definite promise of promotion, & Mr Geeves must await the Board’s Order before making any arrangements necessitated by his promotion.

19 August 1910             William Geeves, Preventive Man, at this Port, still maintains the character assigned to him in the last return of Ages and Capacities, and, should the Board decide to promote him to Preventive Officer, Lower Section, at Southampton, under the conditions specified, he would be prepared to gratefully accept promotion to that post. (Geeves appears to have taken up the promotion on 5th September and moved to Southampton with his family. He was given a £10 advance to cover his costs. He apparently had to give a bond of £100, which was obtained from the Customs Mutual Guarantee Fund. This requirement was abolished in 1914.)


8 September 1910          Stanley Theodore George Spencer Preventive Man, Goole appointed Preventive Man, Cowes.


13 September 1910        Census 1911     As directed in Circular No, 110 of  12th September 1910, I beg to transmit an estimate of the number of Schedules likely to be used for the enumeration of persons on board vessels in this Port on Census night or arriving on the following day:

Schedules for 15 names   =   470

Schedules for 90 names   =     30

                        Total        =   500


[Undated] September 1910         The sailing vessel “Henry & Catherine” of this Port o.n. 71888 is now owned by the Portsmouth and Southampton Lighterage Company, Limited of 116 High Street, Portsmouth who desire to register their title.

The vessel however has passed through several hands without registration before the present owners purchased her, and two Declarations in connection with these transactions cannot now be produced.

The present state of the Register shows Ann Witham and Harvey Dowling to be the registered owners of 32 shares each, and the following documents have been produced in evidence of the successive ownership since that time:-

1. Bill of Sale for 32 shares by Henry Dowling in favour of George Wilkins.

2. Bill of Sale for 32 shares by Ann Witham in favour of George Wilkins. (Cannot be produced, Declaration of ownership by George Wilkins.)

3. Probate of George Wilkins, in favour of William Coxwell.

4. Probate of William Coxwell, executor of George Wilkins. (Cannot be produced, declaration of Transmission by William Crosswell.)

5. Bill of Sale by William Crosswell in favour of William Henry Read.

6. Declaration of ownership by William Henry Read.

7. Statutory Declaration by Henry Stewart, Clerk in the employment of the Applicants that the transactions are to his knowledge genuine.

8. Certificate of Registry.

The present owners, who purchased the vessel from Mr Read, will produce their Bill for Registration as soon as the other documents have been dealt with.

George Wilkins and William Coxwell omitted to make the required Declarations before death, and Messrs. Coxwell & Pope Solicitors, Southampton who are acting for the Lighterage Company, request that the production of these two documents may be dispensed with under Section 60 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894, and that the various transactions down to Mr Read may be registered.

As I am satisfied the Declarations cannot be produced, I respectfully submit the application for favourable consideration. (For Registry of Shipping purposes vessels were divided into 64 shares.)

4 October 1910  Letter from the Chief Registrar to the Solicitor.                

The devolution of title in this case appears to be complete with the exception of a Declaration of Ownership by G Wilkins, and a Declaration of Transmission on Death by W Coxwell – both of whom are dead. On the Registrar being satisfied that these owners were British Subjects, I submit that the two missing Declarations of Ownership be dispensed with, under Section 60 of the M. S. Act, 1894, and the various titles recorded on payment of the usual Fees. (This was agreed by the Solicitor, and the Collector confirmed both were British Subjects.)


15 October 1910                  The Collector requested a pair of Binoculars which was approved by the Board on 17th October 1910.


19 October 1910            His Majesty the King, who has owned the Sailing Yacht “Corisanda” o.n. 67571 of this Port, since 6th February 1908, recently sold the vessel to Mr George Marvin, of Cowes, Yacht Builder, and this morning I received from Mr Pasley, Secretary to the Royal Yacht Squadron, the accompanying Bill of Sale in the name of, and executed on behalf of His Majesty by Sir William Carrington, keeper of the King’s Privy Purse.

Sir William, as will be seen by his letter of the 12th Instant, believes that as Keeper of the King’s Privy Purse, he is entitled to do this, but as I have no knowledge on that point, I beg that you will be good enough to instruct me whether the Bill of Sale may be registered as it stands, treating the deed as somewhat similar to that made under a Power of Attorney, or if it should be executed by His Majesty personally.

21 October 1910  Letter from the Chief Registrar   to the Solicitor.

This vessel stands in the Register in the name of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, now His Majesty the King.

The Bill of Sale disposing of the “Corisanda” is signed by Sir William Carrington, Keeper of His Majesty’s Privy Purse.

A copy of the London Gazette of May 7 1910 proclaiming the King’s accession, and another of June 10 last, announcing Sir W Carrington’s appointment are enclosed.

I submit that a note of the King’s accession and Sir W Carrington’s appointment, may be made in column 14 and the Bill of Sale may be recorded as shewn on the enclosed Form 20:

Form 20

Column 3

Column 11

His Majesty the King by the hand of Sir William Carrington, Keeper of His Majesty’s Privy Purse,

His Royal Highness George Frederick William Ernest, Prince of Wales Proclaimed King by Order in Council dated 7th May 1910

Sir William Carrington K.C. V.O. C.B appointed Keeper of His Majesty’s Privy Purse Order on Council dated 10th June 1910.

8 November 1910  Letter from the Solicitor to the Chief Registrar.  

I concur in the submission of the Chief Registrar that as the vessel stands in the Register in the name of the Prince of Wales a note of the accession of the King should be made in column 14.

With regard to the Bill of Sale itself, I observed that Sir William Carrington stated in his letter that he thought that he was entitled to sign the Bill of Sale on behalf the King, as Keeper of His Majesty’s Privy Purse. I was unable to find any authority for this opinion; and before taking such a step as to advise the Board to answer the transfer upon the Register upon the Bill of Sale produced it seemed advisable that I should ask Sir William Carrington whether it was the usual practice of the Keeper of His Majesty’s Privy Purse to execute for the King the sale of his Private Property. He replied as there appeared to be a doubt about his signing on behalf of the King it would be much better to make the matter sure, and that if I would send him a Bill of Sale he would submit it to the King for signature.

I accordingly sent him the Bill of Sale and I have received this morning from Sir William Carrington a new Bill of Sale signed by the King. The matter is now in order for the completion of the transfer upon the Register. (This was acknowledged by the Collector on the 17th November.)        


22 October 1910            To enable me to provide for the leave of officers during September and October, I have found it necessary to employ F. Abrook as casual Extraman since the 26th Ultimo, Sundays excepted, and as his services will probably be required until the end of the month. Respectfully we request your Honours’ permission for his employment beyond the limits prescribed in Establishments Code. (Frank Abrook appears to have been employed as an Extraman regularly from 1909 – 1915.)


23 October 1910                 (This is from a seizure report form sent to the Board, only the handwritten part is shown in the book)  - 22 October 1910 1.45 pm HMS Mohawk on active service, P. J. Barratt, Stoker, on the person of the owner in High Street, opposite the Pontoon, Cowes after landing from HM Torpedo boat “Mohawk” under repair in the yard of J Samuel White & C, Ltd, Cowes. Allowed to deposit single value and duty (3s 10d) pending the Boards decision in lieu of proceedings before the Magistrates. Officers involved, A. J. Titheridge, Preventive Man, (Detecting Officer), S J G Spencer, Preventive Man. (It appears to relate to Navy issue tobacco. The seizure and deposit were confirmed.)


22 November 1910         I beg to submit the accompanying application of Mr Charles Brown, Proprietor of Brown’s Stores, Cowes for the remission of duty on a chargeable deficiency of 1.3 proof Gallons of B.P. duty 19/2 found on the examination of a quarter cask for duty in No. 1 Warehouse on the 18th Instant.

This is a General Warehouse consisting of one ground floor in which Mr Brown bonds his goods at a yearly rental and is owned by Messrs. Shepherd Bros. of Newport, I.W.

The Warehouse is never open unless an Officer is present and is damp and draughty being built out on a quay exposed to the weather.

As I am satisfied that none of the loss has gone into consumption and the deficiency is wholly due to the damp and draughty stowage, I respectfully submit that the duty may be remitted as requested.


[Undated]  Letter from the Board following a report by the Officer Tilbury Docks.                 

“Kranus” @ Hamburg, 22-11-1901 detained 2 cases Fancy Blotting Pads for infringement of the M.M. Act, they having metal holders attached, marked “Brighton & Rodgers, Ryde, I.W.” without qualification.

The firm, J F Coates, Manchester, inform the Board of Customs that the pads are solely for gratis advertisement and not for sale.

The Board of Customs refer to the Collector, Cowes to report what is the nature of the business in which Messrs. Brighton and Rodgers, of Ryde, are engaged.


8 December 1910           Messrs. Brighton and Rodgers, of Church Lane, Ryde, carry on a business there as Wholesale Confectioners. (The Board authorised their release on 12th December.)


31 December 1910         I beg to submit the accompanying application from James Doherty, Preventive Man, for a transfer to Ballyshannon, Sligo as Preventive Man and Second Officer.

Doherty entered the Service at London on 11th October 1907, and was transferred to Cowes in April of last year.

He is a promising young officer, of good appearance, and smart and intelligent in the performance of his duties; and as I believe he would give satisfaction in the position to which he wishes to be transferred, I beg to submit his application for your Honours favourable consideration. (Doherty was informed on 4th January 1911 that the Customs staff had been withdrawn from Ballyshannon.)


9 January 1910 (should be 1911) I beg to submit herewith a return of the number of Warehouses in this Port with the particulars, and a street map of Cowes their position and that of Custom House.

No. 4 Warehouse is 565, and Nos. 1 & 2 735 yards from the Custom House where the Registers are at present kept.

The Warehouses are opened as required, when an Officer is in continuous attendance. There is no office accommodation in any of them, only a desk on each floor for the convenience of the Officer taking the account. They are all old property and the sanitary arrangements are not sufficient to allow clerical work to be done on the premises.

As there are no goods warehoused on direct importation and the operations trifling, the change of system proposed would make little difference to the amount of work, and I do not think it would be necessary to make any rearrangements.

The clerical work, including the keeping of the ledgers could be conveniently done, as at present in the Custom House where the Officer is at the same time available from other duties, if required.

The Registers for the purposes of taking the account of goods on despatch or from operation could be carried to the Warehouse when necessary, as is now done with the Warrant Book.


21 January 1911            The Board sanction the payment of the Annual Allowance of £5 to Mr E Earnwood Chief Officer Coastguard at Great Yarmouth in succession to Mr Hawkes. (Clearly a case of the wrong Yarmouth being written.)


22 April 1911                        The Board informed the Collector that as the Warehouses are small, it was not necessary to keep separate Ledgers of the same description. The amount of each warehouse may be entered on a separate folio & only one Ledger of the same kind used. There would, of course, be only one set of vouchers for the Station.


24 April 1911                 All the goods in No. 2 warehouse being dry, and all those in Nos. 1 & 4 being wet the accounts for the last two only can be kept in the same ledger. These two warehouses belong to different warehouse keepers, but it will facilitate the collection and aggregating of the returns in the vouchers, the ledger accounts for Nos. 1 & 4 will, as you propose be kept in the same ledger, altho’ in separate folios. Only one set of vouchers will be sent for the station.


12 May 1911                 I beg to submit the accompanying application of Stanley Theodore George Spencer, Preventive Man at this Port, who is desirous of becoming a candidate for appointment of the post of Chief Preventive Officer in the Siamese Customs & Excise Sevice.

He is a native of Ventnor, where he acquired a thorough knowledge of the handling of boats which his father and brothers hire for pleasure.

He was for some time employed as an auxiliary Postman, and entered the Customs Service at Goole on the 4th September 1906, whence he was transferred to this Port in August of last year.

He obtained an insight into landing work in dealing with continental traffic at Goole and he has acquired a working knowledge of bulk cargoes here.

He is a good rummage officer and with little experience of dealing with yachts before he came here he materially improved his knowledge in this kind of work.

Spencer is 23½ years of age, but is strong, thoroughly reliable, free of intemperate habits, unmarried, tactful and of good appearance and willing to take an active and practical approach to the work (The next page containing the rest of the letter is illegible.)


13 May 1911                 I beg to report that on Thursday when rummaging the Steam Yacht “Water Lily” of Southampton o.n. 72362, 118 tons net register, on her arrival in Cowes Roads from the Mediterranean, the local Waterguard Officers made four seizures of Tobacco, Cigars and Perfumed Spirit found concealed in different parts of the vessel.

This yacht has been on a ten month’s cruize during the greater part of which she has been laying at Port Said waiting for her owner, Mr Clarence C Wilson of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and of Grove Place, Nursling, Southampton who was engaged in an exploring expedition to the Mosque of Omar. He was not on board during the rummage, having left the vessel at Naples.

For members of the crew are implicated in the attempted smuggling viz:-

A. E. Pragnell, Chief Mate

2 lb Cavendish

14/16 lb Cigars

13/100 Gall. Perfumed Spirit

Deposit £7–6/6

Concealed behind casing under his berth.

P. J, Richards, Chief Engineer

3 lb Cavendish

9/16 lb Cigars

9/100 Gall. Perfumed Spirit

Deposit £4–18/6

Concealed at back of a drawer at the bottom of his bed berth.

[Illegible], A.B

212/16 Cavendish

Deposit £3–0/6

Concealed under ballast under mess room floor.

[Illegible], Fireman

12/16 lb Cigars

Deposit £2–17/4

Concealed at back of washstand near Engine-room

Each of the offenders has admitted ownership and elected to deposit treble the duty paid value of the goods and to abide by your Honours decision in lieu of being proceeded against before the Magistrates.

The attempts at smuggling were deliberate and stopping in the open roadstead with three of the offenders belonging to Cowes or neighbourhood and one to Poole there was a serious danger to the Revenue. Under the circumstances and in view of the special rummage provisions enjoyed by yachts, I submit that the whole of the deposits on the goods be treated as fines.

As two of the offenders are responsible officers, I have taken a deposit of £10 from the Master. I requested him at the same time to send me a request for its return, but the vessel left today for Southampton without his having done so.

I have no reason to suppose that either the Owner or the Master were aware of the concealments. The goods were, I believe, purchased from some men who regularly board vessels at Gibraltar, but as two of the offenders held positions of Chief Officer and Chief Engineer they should have set a better example to their subordinates and as the Master informs me that they are likely to be retained in their present positions, I submit that a substantial portion of the deposit of £10 should be retained. (The Master subsequently submitted a request for the return of the deposit for the vessel, the Board directed £5 be retained, and also the whole of the deposit by the offenders.)  


16 January 1911   Boards Order 1506 – submitted to the Collector Cowes to note

The Collector Grangemouth reports that to minimise smuggling, he cut down the allowance of Tobacco &c left out for the use of officers & crew of vessels from foreign who stand by the ship. The 8 days supply was reduced to 4 oz. unless the vessel was likely to remain more than 4 days in port. He suggests that, if his action is approved, the Collectors at East Coast ports should have their attention drawn to the desirability of uniformity of practice.

Collectors are at liberty to exercise, and have exercised their discretion as to the quantities of stores left out for use on board within the maximum quantities laid down in paragraph 1007 of the Importation Code. Where circumstances justify it, such as in the case of a regular Home Trade Vessel or vessel calling for bunker coals, whose stay is limited to 48 hours or less, such discretion may be properly exercised.

It is not, however, in our opinion desirable to issue any general directions on the subject, in view of the varied local conditions which prevail.

It is suggested in these papers that spurious Marcella Cigars which may have formed part of the stores left out on board for use are conveyed ashore by seamen. In Importation Code paragraph 1008 the condition on which dutiable stores may be taken on shore free of duty are stated; as regards regular Home Trade Vessels sub-para (c) allows a seaman when he leaves the ship (whether finally or not) a quantity of Tobacco & Cigars free of duty as may be deemed sufficient for immediate consumption (on the general basis of 1 oz. per man), and this principal may, in the Collectors discretion, be applied to a member of the crew of a vessel from any foreign part and landing for a short period.

Officers should endeavour to check attempts at bringing such quantities of stores left out for use as exceed those required for immediate consumption in such cases, and when visiting a vessel the Preventive Officer should occasionally call for the production of the unconsumed Tobacco & Cigars left out for use.

Whilst, therefore, the action taken by the Collector at Grangemouth may be approved, it does not appear expedient to issue any special directions on the subject, but these papers might usefully be circulated in ports on the East & South Coasts, where the volume of trade with the nearer Continental ports is greater. (This was noted by the Collector on 22 May 1911 and passed to Weymouth, it appears the delay between the date of the order and its receipt at Cowes was that it was circulated to each port in order.)


6 June 1911                   I beg to report that S T G Spencer, Preventive Man at this Port, met with a severe accident when on duty on Saturday afternoon.

The motor boat “Nimble”, had just been launched after her annual overhaul and was lying alongside the Public Slipway near the Watch House with her bow towards the shore, Mr Cole, Local Overseer for the [illegible] Engineer and Mr Woods, Engineer, Southampton being on board getting the engine ready for starting and Spencer standing aft holding on with a boat-hook to a [illegible] in the slipway with Preventive Man Fry, Motor Driver similarly employed aft, when a small motor boat “Scout II” belonging to Mrs Osborne of Wootton, I.W., with a party of 4 or 5 ladies and 1 man driving, was seen approaching evidently with the intention of going along the slipway also.

Being nearly high water there was only about 30 feet of slipway above water, and as there was not sufficient room for “Scout II” to get alongside the slipway she was stopped with her stern about 15 foot from the stern of the “Nimble”.

The “Nimble” was then hauled as far inshore as possible – about 6 or 8 feet – and her stern pushed off the slipway far enough to leave ample room for the “Scout II” to get alongside the slipway with safety. Spencer then indicated to “Scout II” to come alongside the slipway but instead of doing that she appears to come to the right towards the “Nimble”. Spencer, anxious to prevent a collision, put “Nimble’s” rudder hard starboard and then tried to push off “Scout II” with his right hand on her stern. He managed to clear her off “Nimble’s” rudder, but before he could get his hand clear it was caught and severely crushed between “Scout II”’s stern and the “Nimble”

Dr Mays stitched and dressed the injured hand immediately after the accident, but on account of the swelling he is unable yet to say whether any bones are broken. He proposes, however, to put the hand under examination as soon as possible and he will then be able to state the extent of the injury.

Spencer is a strong, healthy and well behaved officer and is 23 years of age.

I respectfully submit Spencer may be granted 12 days sick leave as requested and that during his absence I may employ Frank Abrook, Extraman. (Spencer’s own report was also entered, but is mostly illegible. It was signed with a cross, indicating he could not use his hand.)


6 June 1911       An account of Petty Seizures made during the month of May, 1911:


Steam Yacht “Narcissus” @ Gibraltar

5/100 gallon Perfumed Spirits

Owner Alfred Green, Fireman


9 May 1911       Boards Order 16402      

Collector at Portsmouth applies for temporary reinforcement of the Waterguard staff at his Port by three Preventive Men on the occasion of the review of the fleet by H.M. the King on the occasion of his Coronation. He points out that from about the 10th June the considerable volume of extra work will require an increase in the staff, and requests the service of three Preventive Men who would constitute a shipping crew, to work in conjunction with the Cowes and Ryde crew. The Portsmouth crews are to use the “Lady Primrose”, lately fitted with a motor, and the local steam launch.

The Waterguard Inspector is instructed to send three competent men to Portsmouth. (This was noted by the Collector, Cowes on the 8th June.)


9 June 1911                   I beg to report that at 9 am on the 2nd Instant the accompanying anonymous communication posted at Gibraltar on the 28th Ultimo. Ascertaining in the course of the day that the Steam Yacht “Miranda” had called at Gibraltar on the 28th and was expected soon at Dartmouth, where the owner, Lord Leith, was then in residence, I advised the Chief Officer there.

The vessel arrived at Dartmouth at 1.15 am on the 2nd Instant and left again at 5 pm on the same day, but nothing suspicious was observed there, or at Torbay where she subsequently called.

On the vessel’s arrival here on the morning of the 3rd Instant she was, on my Instructions, boarded and thoroughly rummaged by the Preventive Officer and 3 Preventive Men, but no contraband was found, and nothing of a suspicious nature observed.

From an inspection of the log, the vessel appears to have been lying off Gibraltar for two hours only and from the Masters statement it seems that only he, the Chief Engineer and the Chief Steward landed and, on account of it being a Sunday no bum-boats were alongside during their stay there.

I am satisfied that no contraband was brought in the vessel and believe the communication to be a hoax.


19 June 1911                 I beg leave to submit the accompanying application from S T G Spencer, Preventive Man to be granted further sick leave for 10 days from the 20th Instant, when Dr. Mays expects him to be able to resume duty.

The Doctor, on inspection of the injured hand under X rays found no bones broken but the knuckle joint of the thumb slightly displaced.

He believes, however, that he will be able to set that right by massage after the flesh wounds are healed. (The application was granted.)


30 June 1911                 I have made enquiries with regard to Warne, and am not aware of any special circumstances which would render his removal to Cowes undesirable to the interests of the Crown.

I should say, however, that he could not be allowed to live at Gurnard – about 2 miles from this Office – where his Mother resides, because, being on call from 4 pm to 10 pm, it would be impractical for an officer to go that distance to call him out every time he is required. (This was in reply to a letter from the Board following a request from Warne to transfer from Harwich to Cowes. He agreed to live at Cowes.)


1 July 1911        An account of Petty Seizures made during the month of June, 1911:


Steam Yacht “Valhalla” @ Gibraltar

5/100 gallon Perfumed Spirits

Owner Charles Allen West, Mess Room Steward


14 July 1911   Letter from H. Miller (Batavier Lines) to the Board               

We beg to inform you that the s/s “Batavier III” will shortly make a voyage from Rotterdam direct to Cowes, where she will remain during Regatta Week, from the 3rd August to the 8th or 9th August & she will then return direct from Cowes to Rotterdam. This trip will be made for purely personal purposes, the steamer being in ballast and without any cargo for discharging. We therefore petition your Honours to arrange for your Officers to take account of the dutiable stores on board when the ship arrives at Cowes & take a similar account before she departs; and allow us to pay duty on the stores thus having been found to be consumed during the time the ship was in British waters.

We shall give every facility to your officers for the performance of those duties in the event of your Honours granting this petition & we are prepared to make any deposit you may deem necessary. The vessel will report inwards & outwards at Cowes. (The petition was accepted and a deposit ‘sufficient to cover any duty involved’ requested to be lodged with the Collector, Cowes.)


4 August 1911               I annex a copy of the return to BO 10954/1906 shewing the Assistants Long Room duties which are substantially the same now.

Since that time however he has been included in the Waterguard arrangement of this Port, being on call from 4/10 pm every third week.

The bulk of the work here is done in the summer and may be said to commence with the issue of the demands for Yachts Light Dues at the beginning of April and end about the close of September when a large percentage of yacht go into their winter quarters.

The services of the Assistant may I think be dispensed with during the winter months when the Long Room work could be done by the 2nd Officer and myself with a Preventive Man from the Waterguard for office keeping &c when required.

During the summer months however I am convinced that the Long Room work could not efficiently be overtaken by the 2nd Officer and myself without assistance.

Particulars of the duties performed by the Assistant at this Port.

1.) Assists in the exportation of goods received and delivered from Warehouses and in drawing stores ex bond.

2.) Delivers goods ex Warehouse for Home Consumption and Shipment as stores.

3.) Keeps Despatch Book.

4.) Prepares Light Bills.

5.) Keeps Arrival & Sailing Books and prepares Monthly Shipping Return.

6.) Keeps Oversea Book, receives checks and forwards specification.

7.) Keeps King’s Warehouse Register.

8.) Prepares periodic Returns of duties received.

9.) Prepares appropriate sheets and abstracts.

10.) Prepares Monthly Coal Returns.

11.) Assists in Engagement and Discharge of Crews.

12.) Keeps Postage Book and despatches letters.

13.) Assist in Royal Naval Reserve work.

14.) Advises Register General of Arrivals and Sailings of British Vessels.

15.) Indexes General Letters Book.

16.) Keeps overtime accounts.

17.) Assists in Official Correspondence.


17 August 1911             Spencer has consulted a Solicitor who advised him to try and get the matter settled out of court for £10. The Solicitor has accordingly written to the other side, and Spencer will be guided in any further action by the result of this correspondence. (This was as the result of a letter from the Board stating that any action Spencer took was at his own risk and expense.)


19 August 1911             The annexed report of Mr F J Parsons is submitted for your Honours directions as to whether a prosecution should be instituted under Section 184 of the Customs Consolidation Act, as amended by the Customs and Inland Revenue Act 1881, against Robert Mursell, a passenger by the excursion steamer “Balmoral”, which arrived at this Port on the 17th instant from Cherbourg, for obstructing the Customs Officers acting in the execution of their duty, in the circumstances narrated in the report. Although no question of attempting to smuggle the goods arises, as they were freely produced to the Officer, it is for further consideration whether Mursell should not be prosecuted against, under the same section of the Act, for destroying the goods their seizure for failure to pay duty. The amount of duty involved is 2s/6d.

Mursell is an ex-soldier and licencee of the “Union Inn” in this town. He bears a good character and, so far as our officers know, has not previously offended against the Revenue Laws. Both officers present agreed that Mursell was sober enough to know what he was doing, although he evidently had been drinking, as indeed his conduct would suggest.

I must add that up to the time of writing Mursell has offered no explanation for his conduct.

18 August 1911  Report by F J Parsons, Preventive Officer.          

I beg to report on the arrival of the s/s “Balmoral” @ Cherbourg on Thursday evening 17th inst. I attended with A J Titheridge, Prev. man to examine baggage of passengers.

One of the passengers (Robert Mursell) on being questioned by the above named officer whether he had anything to declare produced 3 bottles of perfumed spirit at 19/100 gall. The passenger was informed the perfume was in excess of the quantity to be passed free and was about to calculate the amount of duty he would have to pay when he forced the parcel from the officer and smashed it against the vessels side.

I might state that Mursell is a licence holder keeping the Union Inn at the top of Watch House Lane.

I am reporting this for instructions.


23 August 1911             I beg to report that three launches, Yard numbers 1339/41 constructed at this port by Messrs. J Samuel White & Co, to the orders of the Chilean Government, were yesterday towed to Southampton, whence they will be sent by rail to London for shipment there. I regret I have been unable to obtain either the name of the exporting vessel or the dock from which she is leaving.

I have today reported the departure of the craft, on form 404, the Secretary, Admiralty, as directed by confidential circular No. 51 of 1909.


4 September 1911              Albert James Henry Titheridge, P.M., Cowes admitted to duty as P.O. L.S., London.  (George Oliver Warne was admitted as a P.M, at Cowes from Harwich on the same day, but further details are illegible.)


5 September 1911          In reply to the Secretary’s letter of the 1st instant, I beg to report that as directed I informed Mr Mursell of the Penalty he had rendered himself to, and that he presented himself before me today to offer the explanation requested. He is very penitent and ashamed of himself, and apologised for his conduct and the trouble he had given the officers. He explained that he would not have acted as he did, if it were not for the fact he had taken more drink than was good for him. He thanks your Honours for the opportunity afforded to him of offering an explanation and asks that such leniency shall be extended to him as is possible in the circumstances. He is willing to pay the duty on the goods if allowed to. (This followed a order from the Board to inform him that he had rendered himself liable to a penalty not exceeding £100 and offering him the opportunity to explain his action. He was subsequently cautioned and informed that he must be careful to avoid committing any breach of Customs Law in future.)


[undated] September      From S T G Spencer to the Collector      

I beg to report that I am in receipt of a communication from my solicitor, Mr Hiscock, to the effect that Mrs Osborne now offers five guineas (£5 – 5 – 0) in settlement of the claim of twenty four pounds (£24 – 0 – 0) which I recently made against her.

Although personally I think the sum offered is quite inadequate, and am not inclined to accept it, In a personal interview with my Solicitor I was told the cost of legal proceedings would amount to a least ten pounds, and that, although I have good grounds for accusing the other side of negligence and faulty navigation, the Court would probably give the decision against me on the plea that my hand should not have been wilfully placed between the two boats.

The case, therefore, appears to be so evenly balanced that neither seems to me to have grounds for anticipating a certain success.

Under the circumstances, I feel it is advisable to accept the sum of five guineas (£5 – 5 – 0) offered. My Solicitors fees amount to about one pound (£1 – 0 – 0) and the Doctors bill three guineas        (£3 – 3 – 0), and during my sickness I incurred extra expenditure on account on having to depend on other persons for assistance in dressing &c after leaving the Doctors care. I had to purchase bandages and occasionally medicine for sleeplessness &c. Further expense will be incurred as the Doctor says it will be some time before my hand will be all right again, if ever it be as well as before the accident.

As these necessities caused me considerable expense, I respectfully beg that the Honourable Board may be pleased to allow me to retain the whole of the amount now offered by Mrs Osborne. (The Collector reported this to the Board and Spencer was allowed to keep the whole amount.)


10 October 1910  William J Jennings, Assistant Cowes to Assistant, London.


11 October 1911            I beg to submit the accompanying application of Stanley T G Spencer, Preventive Man at this Port for appointment to the office of Preventive-Man-in-Charge at Hayle (Penzance) with reference to Circular 115 of the 2nd instant.

Spencer is a very steady and well conducted officer and completed 5 years service on the 4th Ultimo. He is inexperienced in the duties of a Preventive-Man-in-Charge, but, if selected to fill this vacancy, he would, I believe, do everything in his power to make himself acquainted with his duties within the time stipulated.


13 October 1911    From the Board.        

The Boards attention has been directed to your excessive employment of casual labour at your port where an extraman was engaged for 71 days in the December quarter last. I am to instruct you to take steps to reduce this. The existing practice of employing an extraman on every occasion one of the Waterguard staff is absent is in their opinion unnecessary, except possibly during the yachting season when it may be desirable to maintain a full staff.  In the slack periods of the year, day arrivals can as a rule be dealt with by a similar staff to that engaged on ships arriving at night.

You will make a full report of proceedings in three months.


23 October 1911   From the Board.         

In connection with the supply of a motor-boat at an out-port, the Board have authorised the supply of a barometer on account of the necessity for forecasting sudden changes of weather.

Please report whether a barometer is provided at your port either on shore as part of the equipment of the motor-boat; and, if not, whether the supply of such an instrument would be useful.


25 October 1911            No barometer is provided at this Port either on shore as part of the equipment of the motor-boat, but such an instrument would be very useful on account of the frequent sudden changes in weather experienced here.


29 November 1911   From the Board.      

The Board direct me to inform you that the Office Surveyor in this building has been instructed to make arrangements for the purchase of a Nagretti and Zambra aneroid barometer, No. 670, compensated movement, polished brass case and curved thermometer.

Printed rules for forecasting the weather by barometrical readings will accompany the instrument for use at your Port.

I am to add that it is desirable periodically to compare the reading with that of a standard mercurial barometer so that any correction required to make a true reading may be made.


31 October 1911            I beg to submit the accompanying application of Messrs. Shepard Brothers, the Warehousekeepers for No. 2 Warehouse, for permission to destroy 78 lbs B.M. Cavendish Tobacco, 57 lbs F.M. Cavendish Tobacco 0 – 3 – 2 [Measures not legible] Coffee lying in the Warehouse and which they have not received any rent for several years.

The tobacco belonged to the late R H Matthews & Company who became bankrupt about 5 years ago and have done no business since. The whole of the stock of this company was put up for auction but the tobacco in question was not sold. The coffee was the property of T W Faulkner who retired from business many years ago.

I have examined the goods and, as I am satisfied they are worthless, I submit they may be destroyed as requested. (Destruction was approved and the Collector certified on the 16th November that it had been ‘destroyed by being burned with fire’.)


28 December 1911         I beg to submit the accompanying application of James Doherty, Preventive Man, who desires a recommendation for an appointment as Assistant Insurance Officer under Part II of the National Insurance Bill.

He is a promising young officer of good appearance and is smart and intelligent in performance of his duties.

Doherty is currently on leave in the North of Ireland and his application did not reach me until this morning.


5 January 1912                    Increments were given to John Stephens, Collector and Surveyor, £365 from 20thJanuary 1912, William McPherson, Clerk, 2nd Class, Upper Section,  £270 from 7th January 1912 and George Oliver Warne, Preventive Man,£1 – 4 – 0 per week from 21st February 1912.


5 January 1912              The principals for the existing bond for Nos. 1 & 2 Warehouses at this Port are Messrs. Arnold Frank Shepard, Harry Shepard and Joseph Percy Shepard, but as the interest in the Warehouses is about to be taken over by Shepard Bros Limited, they desire that a fresh bond for the unexpired period of 7 years from the 28th July 1908, may be entered into by the Limited Company as Principals, with the same sureties as in the existing bond viz:- Joseph Henry Wavell and Richard Roach Pittis.

I am satisfied as to the sufficiency of each of the proposed sureties for the Penalty of the bond, £3000.

These Warehouses are necessary for the trade of the Port. The accounts are kept in the Long Room and the Warehouses are never opened unless when an officer is present. I am satisfied with the accommodation provided for officers who attend only for examination and delivery of the goods.

So far as the officers are concerned the condition of the premises may be considered quite sanitary. (The bond was approved by the Board.)


20 January 1912            Pratique is not granted after 10pm unless the Master or Owner comes ashore when the health questions are put by the officer on watch before any one lands.

The practice applies generally and is included in the arrangements approved by the Board. There have been no complaints in the three months under review. In that time Preventive Men have been called out three times:

1 Preventive Man 8am – Noon

1 Preventive Man 8am – Noon

1 Preventive Man 11am – 2pm

(This was in reply to a query from the Board about how pratique was granted at night and at times of staff shortage and whether there had been any complaints.)


18 January 1912            On receipt of your Order I dispensed with the service of Extramen that for many years had been employed whenever an Officer of the Waterguard was absent, and in the period of three months that has elapsed I have had to provide for the absence of Officers for 50 days, only one being absent at a time.

To meet this I adopted the following scheme of daily attendance:



On call

Preventive Officer

average 9am to 4.30pm

To 10pm every alternate week

Preventive Man, Motor Driver

average 8am to 4.30pm

To 10pm every alternate week

Preventive Man, watch &c

Every night 0pm to 8am


Preventive Man, watch &c

8am to 4pm

4pm to 10pm

Preventive Man, watch &c

4pm to midnight

8am to 4pm

The Senior Preventive Man has to take the “on call” of the Preventive Officer every alternate week.

To relieve the Motor Driver for rummage &c I have directed that the rowing boat be used as far as practicable for boarding after dark, but boarding duties are not generally undertaken after 10pm; any arrivals after that time being kept under observation by the officer on watch.

Under these arrangement the 48 hour week has been exceeded in only one instance when 2 Preventive Men were employed for 52 hours each, but the time “on call” of all the officers has been materially increased, and in addition the Preventive Officer and Senior Preventive Man now have to take the “on call” of the Preventive Officer every second week instead of every third week as they had before the withdrawal of the Assistant and, although this arrangement was approved by the Board to meet a complaint of the Preventive Officer that his time “on call” was excessive, neither he nor any of the Preventive Men have made any complaint regarding my arrangements.

The calling out of men necessarily taking time because provision can rarely be made beforehand on account of uncertain movements of yachts and some yacht owners are not overpatient of any delay, but as the arrival of yachts in the winter are few there has been no difficulty in overtaking the work in the last three months.

During the yachting season however the work could not be done satisfactorily under these arrangements and I am strongly convinced that it is necessary to maintain a full staff at that time.


19 February 1912           I beg to submit the accompanying application of Messrs. Findlay, Durham & Brodie of Cannon Street House, 110 Cannon Street, London EC that 24 tins of patent knotting shipped by them and subsequently washed ashore at St Catherine on the Isle of Wight in November last may be admitted to a Bill of Store.

The case marked “HHK Delgoa Bay #4” containing these tins was shipped in London on a free specification per s/s “Ingeli” for Delgoa Bay, but was washed overboard when the vessel was bound down the Channel.

The case was in a damaged condition when salved, and contained 24 quarter gallon tins of which one was subsequently used for test.

I am satisfied with the identity of the goods and submit the application for your Honours favourable consideration.

I annex the Bill of Store duly certified in London, the test note and a label from one of the tins. (This was approved by the Board.)


22 February 1912           No previous report has been made with reference to these vessels.

When the building of them was about to commence the Directors of Messrs. J Samuel White & Co, who had previously furnished me with the particulars of any vessels under construction by them, declined to give any information whatever regarding these vessels, stating that the reason for their refusal was that they were bound by the terms of their contract with the Chileans to treat their particulars as strictly confidential.

I therefore had to obtain the particulars by personal observation and the best means I could. This of necessity took me some time, but I reported the particulars as soon as I was in a position to do so.

I may add that the same builders have orders for 4 more Chilean destroyers, but, as only two can be built at the same time, the keels of the next two cannot be laid until after the two under construction have been launched. (This was in response to a request by the Board for an explanation for the delay in submitting the information.)


17 February 1912                                This is from a seizure report form sent to the Board, only the handwritten part is shown in the book - 9.45  Seizure of Navy perique from Frank James Dowden of 2 Maruya Cottages, Grange Road, East Cowes, Grocers Assistant. Offender was offered and accepted the option of depositing treble value and duty (13s 10d) in lieu of proceedings before the Magistrates. Intercepted by William Butcher, Sorter and General Telegraphist at Cowes General Post Office in the course of transmission by Inland Parcel Post from East Cowes addressed to Mrs G Dowden, High Street Brading.


22 February 1912                       The addressee in this case is the mother of the offender, and on the former receiving my letter advising her of the detention of the parcel both she and the offender appeared together at this office, when the mother denied all knowledge in the matter while the offender admitted having sent the parcel unknown to his mother and that he had brought the tobacco from a Naval Seaman on the floating bridge running between East and West Cowes.

He denied, however, that he had any knowledge of the Seaman or that he would be able to recognise him again.

As I am satisfied the offender in not as ignorant of the Seaman as he professes, I submit that the whole of the deposit may be retained as a fine. (The Board instructed that the goods should be seized and the whole of the deposit retained as a fine. The offender appealed, but this was rejected.)

4 March 1912    From the Board.

You are requested to furnish replies, as early as possible to the following inquiries, with any additional information you deem necessary.


1. It was understood that during the last inspection that, in practice foreign arrivals outside the ordinary hours of attendance of the day crew were dealt with by the Preventive Officer, the Motor Boat driver and the Preventive Man on watch, the first two being the only officers “on call” even when the full staff was available.

According to your report of the 15th ultimo, No.4, when the staff in one short three officers are “on call” 2 nights weekly. Please explain the reason for this.


2. If an extraman had been employed as formerly it is assumed there would have been only one man on duty between 4pm and 8am. If this be correct it is not understood why his being dispensed with material increased the time on call of all the officers – please explain.


3. When only two men are called out which boat is more convenient to use – the motor, or the row boat?


4. Please furnish a list of the actual leave periods comprised in the total of 50 days referred to in your report.


1. I am not aware of anything that led you to understand this and I can only repeat what was included in reply to your reference of 2nd August last “When the weather is fine foreign arrivals of an unimportant character during the night are dealt with by the Preventive Officer or his substitute, the Motor Driver, and the man on watch, otherwise another Preventive Man is called out.

The last noted man may not be required but he must be “on call” to meet the possibility of his being so.

The steadily increasing size of yachts being built by wealthy owners not only increases the work in rummaging them, but also compels them to anchor further from the shore where they are more exposed to the rough sea and strong tides that run in the roads; and from my experience I am convinced it would be incurring grave risk if boarding were attempted in unfavourable weather with a crew insufficient to keep the boat from being smashed against the vessel.

There are always 3 men on call between 4/10pm, and I regret that in my report of the 15th January last, I inadvertently showed the motor driver as “on call” 2 nights a week instead of every night and the senior Preventive Man as not “on call” at all instead of as every alternate week.


2. Yes, one man is on watch from 4/12pm and another from 0/8am whether there is a full staff or one short. With a full staff 4 men are on duty from 8am to 4pm, and no one is required to be “on call”, whilst with one man on leave three men only are on duty and one “on call” during that time.

Again with a full staff 1 man is on duty from 4/10pm with the Preventive Officer or his substitute and a Preventive Man “on call” and the Preventive Officer or his substitute and 1 Preventive Man entirely free, whilst with one man on leave, 1 man is on duty, with the Preventive Officer or his substitute and 2 Preventive Men “on call” and only the Preventive Officer or his substitute entirely free.


3. This depends on the distance from the shore at which the vessel to be boarded comes to anchor, and the state of the wind, sea and tide. When these conditions are unfavourable the motor boat is used to convey the officers to their duties, and being relieved from the arduous and exhausting of rowing often against wind and tide, they arrive in such a physical condition as to enable them to undertake the rummage more expeditiously, more quickly and with great efficiency. The rowing boat is used only when the distance to be covered is short and the wind, sea and tide favourable.


4. A list of the actual leave peiod in annexed as requested. (Not transcribed.)


5 March 1912                       Isidore J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man, London to Preventive Man, Cowes.


6 March 1912                I regret to report that Alfred S Cassell, Preventive Man, who is promoted to Preventive Officer, Lower Section, Queenboro, will be unable to take up his new duties for a few days (Medical Certificate enclosed).

He has suffered for some time from hemorrhoids and on the advice of his Doctor underwent an operation on the 22nd Ultimo, when a polypus was discovered and cut away.

The Doctor thinks Cassell is now progressing favourably and is hopeful he will be able to travel on Monday 11th instant and take up his duty at Queenboro the following day. (He was appointed on the 12th March, with a bond of £100.)


12 March 1912   To the advising Officer for vessels.         

A S Cassell, Preventive Man has now been promoted to Preventive Officer, Queenboro, and consequently it has become necessary to fill his place as relief driver of the motor-boat “Nimble”.

I think Jas. Doherty is in all respects the most suitable and propose recommending him but before doing so I shall be glad to know whether you concur or if you think any of the other men is more suitable for the duty.


1 April 1912                   I beg to submit the accompanying application of James Doherty, Preventive Man, desiring a recommendation for service as Customs Storekeeper and Baggage Examiner in the British East African Protectorate.

Doherty is 233/12 years of age and unmarried, is of unexceptional character and a total abstainer and has a constitution strong enough, I believe, to fit him for life in a tropical country.

He is energetic, intelligent and zealous in the performance of his official duties; he makes good use of his spare time by attending classes in French, German, Shorthand and Ambulance Work with commendable success.

As I am confident Doherty would fill the position for which he desires a recommendation with credit to himself and to the Department, I respectfully submit his application for your Honours favourable consideration.

I annex particulars of Doherty’s age and service on Form 161.


3 April 1912                   Mr Edmund Earwood, Chief Officer of Coastguard at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, who was granted an allowance of £5 per annum as remuneration for work done by him on behalf of this Department, retires from the Service on the 6th instant and I respectfully request that your Honours may be pleased to sanction a continuance of this allowance to his successor, Mr George W Hicks, from the 7th instant inclusive. (After consultation with the Coastguard this was approved.)


9 April 1912                   I beg to report that since your Order there have been no fines on ships for being concerned in smuggling at this Port. (The Order appears to date from mid 1911.)


6 April 1912                          This is from a seizure report form sent to the Board, only the handwritten part is shown in the book. - 12.15  Seizure of Navy perique from Stephen Webb, Police Constable, 8 St David’s Road, East Cowes. Treble value and duty (13s 10d) in lieu of proceedings before the Magistrates. Intercepted by William Butcher, Sorter and General Telegraphist at Cowes General Post Office in the course of transmission by Inland Parcel Post from East Cowes addressed to Mrs Lock, Madeira Cottage, Ugford, Wilton.


11 April 1912                 The addressee on being communicated with denied any knowledge of the parcel or of its contents, and on being opened it was found to contain 12/16 lb navy perique tobacco, but nothing to indicate the sender except “3d chicks of mixed corn” written on the inside of the outer wrapper.

I sent I J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man to East Cowes where the parcel was posted, to try if he could trace the sender, and after some investigation and inquiry he managed to do so. Offender admitting having sent the parcel, but declined to say where he got the tobacco except that it wa from a Naval Seaman who has now left the district.

In view of the offender’s refusal to furnish any particulars as to where he obtained the tobacco, I respectfully submit that the whole of the deposit may be retained as a fine.

I also respectfully submit that Dobrzanski, who traced the offender by special inquiry and investigation of a detective nature may be allowed as a reward one half of whatever fine your honours may see fit to impose. (The whole deposit was retained as a fine and Dobrzanski paid a reward. A note from the Collector stated “I have reported this offender to the local Police Authorities, as there being no reason for not doing so”, Inspector Bignall of Cowes Police Station was accordingly informed.)


12 April 1912                        Increment given to Frederick John Parsons, Preventive Officer, Lower Class, £150 from 4th April 1912.        


25 April 1912     From James Doherty.    

I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 22nd instant relating to the appointment of Customs Storekeeper and Baggage Examiner in the British East African Protectorate, an to inform you that I gratefully accept your offer and will present myself for Medical Examination by Sir Patrick Manson at 50 Welbeck Street on Saturday next.

In the event of my being successful in passing the medical examination I will be prepared to leave England any time after the 20th May next.

Any communication which you may require to send to my relatives may be addressed to my father as follows:

D Doherty





(The secondment was authorised by the Board on 7th May 1912 and he embarked on the 24th May.)


1 May 1912                   Record of Petty Seizures made during the month of April 1912:


Steam Yacht “Alberta” @ Monaco

12/16 lb Navy Perique Tobacco

No owner

6 May 1912                   I beg to report that after the withdrawal of the Assistant from this Port in October of last year, I found that the work in the Long Room was on several occasions too much for the Arrivals and Sailings book to be posted up daily, and to enable me to get over this I directed the copy of the particulars into these books from Form 56 to be done in his spare time by the Preventive Man on duty from 4pm to Midnight at the Watch House.

All the records are brought to this Office each morning where they are completed and checked by me; and all the Shipping Returns are prepared by the Clerk in the Long Room and these are also checked by me.

This arrangement has worked very satisfactorily, and it has ensured the books being posted up daily and the utmost care being exercised in the compilation of all records connected with Shipping Returns.

I am now instructed by Mr Marrable, who recently inspected the Port, to make this report to your Honours regarding the arrangements, as being contrary to the usual practice of keeping the Arrivals and Sailings Books in the Long Room. (The Board replied that ‘this practice need not be disturbed’.)


16 May 1912   Report by F J Parsons, Preventive Officer.             

I beg to report that, as instructed, I visited the premises known as the Alexandra Restaurant at 1 Queens Road, East Cowes and with the writ of assistance proceeded to search the house.

I questioned the Proprietress Mrs C T Coles as to any knowledge of contraband being there, but she definitely stated that there was nothing of the kind on the premises.

I then proceeded with the search in conjunction with I J Dobrzanski, C A Fry and G O Warne, Preventive Men, and in the upstairs front bedroom on top of a wardrobe cupboard behind a cardboard box, I found and seized 2 periques of Navy Tobacco weighing 17/16 lb. We searched the house thoroughly but could find no further trace of contraband. On questioning Mrs Cole she again pleaded ignorance of any tobacco being there at stated that at 7am this morning she placed the cardboard box on top of the cupboard but did not notice anything there. Later Mrs Cole stated that when putting the box up she felt something hard at the back but never looked to see what it was.

She then informed me that the room was occupied by one George Singleton, a lodger. I waited for Singleton, who is employed as a driller, in the shipbuilding yard of J Samuel White & Co until the dinner hour at 1pm and on his arrival took him to the bedroom where the tobacco was found and questioned him as to his knowledge of the tobacco, but he denied knowing anything about it. On further questioning him, however, he admitted it was his property and stated that he got the tobacco from a Sailor on the cruizer “Eclipse” but did not know the mans name nor could he recognise him again.

I did not offer him the option of depositing treble the duty paid value pending your instructions. (This apparently resulted from information from the Collector, Portsmouth. Singleton was offered and accepted a penalty of £1 – 6 – 7 in lieu of proceedings before a Magistrate.)


17 May 1912                 I beg to submit the following tenders from retailers in Cowes for the supply of 250 gallons of motor spirit, the quantity I estimate that will be required for the motor-boat “Nimble” from 1st June 1912 to 31st March 1913.

The firms tendering do not state a price because the manufacturers of both Shell and Pratts require the retailers to sell the spirit at a minimum of 2d over the wholesale price. The present retail price is 1/6 and the wholesale 1/4 per gallon. The former price has risen from 1/1 in the last four months, the reason being, I understand, that Shell and Pratts who had been undercutting each other for some time have now come to an arrangement.

Messrs Clark & Blachford who has hitherto supplied the spirit required here at the minimum price allowed by the manufacture now offer to continue the arrangement and, as they have given entire satisfaction, and as their premises are more convenient to the Watch House than any of the others, I respectfully submit that their offer may be accepted. (This arrangement was approved.)


17 May 1912                 During the year ended the 31st December 1911, the average weekly numbers of arrivals and sailings at this Port was:

Arrivals = 151

Sailings = 145

This is exclusive of those recorded at eight Coastguard Stations and Ryde Pier Head.


5 June 1912   From the Board.               

With reference to you application of the 23rd ultimo, I desire to inform you that the Board have granted you 23 days leave of absence from the 6th instant and have approved the arrangements you submitted.

Mr A.M. Clegg, Officer, London has been directed to proceed to your Port on special service for this period.


30 May 1912   To W McPherson, Officer.

You will read the accompanying Confidential Circular 16833/1912, and state definitely hereon whether you intend to compete or not at the limited competition among Officers, late Upper Section Clerks, for promotion to Surveyorships. (He confirmed he would be applying, and took the examination on the 18th and 19th July..)                                


4 June 1912                   Owing to the promotion of A S Cassell, Preventive Man, to Preventive Officer, Lower Section, Queenboro, the post of relief driver of the motor boat “Nimble” to which he was appointed by your Honours is vacant.

I had James Doherty, Preventive Man, under instruction for some time, but, before I felt justified in recommending him for the appointment he was seconded for service in the East African Protectorate.

Since that time I have had Stanley T G Spencer, Preventive Man, under instruction, and, as he has shown considerable aptitude in acquiring the knowledge necessary for the proper care and maintenance of the motor, I respectfully submit that he may continue under instruction, and I feel confident that he soon be able to satisfy the Advising Officer as to his fitness for the post. (His continued instruction was approved, but he was not to be placed in sole charge. His appointment was approved on 1st October with an allowance of 1/- per day when employed as relief driver.)


[undated] June               Return of:

1. The number of towels, dusters used in the Officer, Watch Houses in this Collection which require weekly washing:

a)         separately paid for                      =          eight

b)         included in cleaning allowance    =          nil

2. The average weekly cost of such washing (not included in cleaning allowance)    =          4d


18 June 1912                 Mr George Marvin, of Cowes, the registered owner of the steam yacht “Valhalla” of this Port, o.n. 78461, 1218 tons gross, has applied verbally to me for permission to mount five 3 pounder Hotchkiss quick firing guns on the yacht. Particulars of the guns are shown in the letter and drawing in enclosure envelope herewith. Mr Marvin in anxious to complete all necessary formalities before fitting the guns and explained that they are to be used for defensive purposes whilst cruising in unpoliced waters during a pleasure voyage around the world later in the present year. I am [illegible].

An application in respect of guns mounted on the same yacht under different ownership, was dealt with in papers 2370/1908.

I beg that I may receive your Honours directions as to the reply to Mr Marvin. (The Board stated on the 20th July that they had no objection to the mounting of the guns.)


14 June 1912                       William Henry Finley, Preventive Man, Barry Dock, Cardiff to Preventive Man, Cowes.


24 June 1912                 I beg to request that reference be made to the Superintending Engineer and Constructor of Shipping as to the advisability of disposing of the undermentioned articles supplied for the use of the motor boat “Nimble”:

Magneto                                    1

Whistle and Hand pump             1

            Circulating Pumps                      2

            Propeller Blades                        1

            Steering wheel & barrel               1

As they are unserviceable and of no further use for the purpose for which supplied.  The Superintending Engineer is aware of the conditions of the articles. (The Collector was authorised to accept offers from local dealers. An offer of £1 was accepted from G H May & Son, Cowes.)


2 July 1912                    The following information as to charwomen employed in this Collection if forwarded as requested by your Circular of 26th Ultimo:

Caretakers                    None employed

Office Cleaners              None employed


            Station:                                                 Custom House

            Name:                                                   Louisa Urry

            Whether Married of Single;                      A Widow

            Rate of Pay:                                          £10 a year

            Average No. of hours per day:                 three

            If engaged in other employment:              no

Mrs Urry receives extra remuneration for washing the towels to the amount of 4/4 per Quarter.


29 June 1912                 Mr H R Carson sender of the postcard is registered owner of the 6 ton Motor Yacht “Lone Wolf” of this Port o.n. 128,988. On registering the boat he claimed exemption from the requirement that the vessel’s name and port of registry be marked on her stern as he is a member of the Solent Yacht Club. Exemption on such grounds cannot be allowed to him as his club is not on the list of exempted clubs given on page 77 of the Instructions to Registrars. It would appear from the Instructions that Mr Carson can make a special application for exemption to the Board of Trade, but I think he is more concerned about his club not being on the list.


12 July 1912                  I beg to report, as directed by Customs Circular No. 97 of 28th June last:

a.)        1.) That the distribution of leaflets, answering enquiries by the public &c at this office is being undertaken by myself and the Clerk in the Long Room, the only two officials at this Port above the rank of Preventive Officer,

            2.) That there is no Sub-Port or Creek in charge of an officer within this Port and

            3.) That there is no Excise Office located in Cowes.

b.)        No relief has been given, and judging from the experience to date, I do not at present think any relief will be necessary.

c.)        There is no Surveyor or officer in this Port engaged exclusively on Customs work.

I regret that this report was not forwarded at the proper time, but I was under the impression that it

was not required from small Customs Ports.


29 July 1912                         Increment given to Stanley T G Spencer, Preventive Man, £1 – 7 – 0 per week from 4th September 1912.


[undated] August 1912               An Account of Petty Seizures made during the month of July 1912:

Date of Seizure

Vessel & from whence




S/Yacht “Calista” @ Lisbon

4/16 lb Cavendish Tobacco

W. Croft, A.B.


S/Yacht “Calista” @ Lisbon

3/100 gall. Perf. Spirits

G. Lock, 2nd Mate

(The Board ordered the goods to retained as seizures.)


22 August 1912   From the Board                       

With reference to your reports of the 15th January and subsequent dates, I am directed to inform you that the following scheme of attendance should be adopted at your Port when the Waterguard Staff is reduced by absence:



1st Week

2nd Week

3rd Week



Ordinary Attendance

4pm to 10pm

Ordinary Attendance

4pm to 10pm

Ordinary Attendance

4pm to 10pm


Preventive Officer

9am to 4.30pm (average)


9am to 4.30pm


9am to 4.30pm



Motor Diver

8am – 4.30pm (average)


8am – 4.30pm


8am – 4.30pm



Senior Prev-entive Man

Midnight – 8am


4pm - Midnight


8am – 4pm



Preventive Man (Relief Driver)

8am – 4pm


Midnight – 8am


4pm - Midnight



Preventive Man

4pm - Midnight


8am – 4pm


Midnight – 8am



Preventive Man


I am further to inform you that:

a.) During the 4th, 5th and 6th weeks the attendance should follow as above except that in the 6th week the “on call” should be taken by No. 2 (Motor Driver) instead of the Preventive Officer.

b.) When the motor boat is required during bad weather between 8am and 4pm an extraman may be employed, if necessary, should the Preventive Officer require the other two men for rummaging. Where essential for the safety of the crew in bad weather authority of the employment of an extraman is extended to 10pm.

c.) Except during the Yachting Season the rummage of vessels arriving from foreign between 4pm and 10pm should be undertaken by the Boarding Crew, in bad weather an extraman may be employed if absolutely necessary, the watch giving special attention to the vessel during the remainder of the night. 

d.) During the absence of the Motor Driver or the relief Motor Driver, the other should be “on call” every night from 4pm to 10pm.

e.) During the yachting season an Extraman may be employed if necessary during the most convenient watch.

I am to add that when a full staff is available you should make such arrangements as circumstances permit so as to reduce the “on call” time of the Officers it being understood that the relief Motor Driver will be employed to drive the Boat should it be required while he is on 4pm to midnight watch or “on call” between 4pm and 10pm except when number 2 (Motor Driver) is available.

You are to report in 3 months as to the working of these arrangements. (It appears that these revised arrangements were slightly modified from those original proposed in respect of employment of an extraman.)


October 1912       Increments given to Charles A Fry, Preventive Man, £1 – 14 – 6 per week from 1st October 1912, William Henry Finley, Preventive Man, Boarding, £1 –11 – 8 per week from 11th November 1912 and Isadore J Dobrzanski, Preventive Man, Boarding, £1 – 14 – 6 per week from 1st October 1912.


16 October 1912   Letter from Board       

With reference to your report of the 8th instant I am I am desired to inform you that the Board have granted Mr W McPherson, Officer at your Port, 13 days leave of absence from the 16th instant inclusive. Mr Charles Cuttle, Officer, Long Room, London has been instructed to proceed to your Port for special service during this period.         

1908 - 1909

1912 - 1915

Cowes Customs Records

Note: These pages are my transcriptions of original documents, they are accurate to the best of my ability but I do not take any responsibility for errors.

14 February 2008