Auction Date: 2/09/2014 at 01pm
Smugglers in the 18th c – an important manuscript book of instructions for the Excise men running from 1741 to 1760 providing considerable information on the running of the Excise at that time when smuggling was rife throughout the coastal areas of the country. The 4to sized book contains approx 200 closely written pages, mostly browned throughout but clearly legible, and with the instructions neatly written in various hands over the years. The book is in an ‘as used’ condition as may be expected. There are entries mentioning the seizure of contraband such as brandy and one page dated May 28th 1748 in particular hammers out the determination to end smuggling once and for all : ‘...the Lord’s Commissioners of His Majesty’s Treasury who have received repeated information of the pernicious practices still carrying on in the clandestine running of goods and of great outrages committed by the smugglers which make the concurrence of all the officers of the Crown necessary towards suppressing them, the Commissioners order you to direct the supervisors and officers in your collection house their utmost endeavours in discovering all persons concerned in such unlawful practices and to assist with zeal & vigour to officers of his Majesty’s Customs on all lawful occasions in seizing such persons and suppressing such practices in the future...’ The mid 18th c was the great battle ground between the authorities of the excise and the smugglers. Smuggling was organised on an almost industrial scale and in the coastal communities it was often the case that everyone, from the local Squire and Parson down to the youngest apprentice fisherman was involved. Smuggling at this time also gave rise to considerable romantic fiction written in the 19th and beyond.