Cornwall  Smugglers


Coast Guard / Revenue / Salt Officers


The Times of London

Matters pertaining to the Smuggling or Coast-Guards in Cornwall reported


The Times 30/4/1785  issue 107 pg.4. col.b

Port of Fowey to be sold at Custom House, Penzance.

On Wednesday the 6th of April 1785 at two in the afternoon

The following Liquors viz:

2483 gallons of brandy

70 gallons of rum

980 gallons of Geneva

N.B. The above goods may be viewed Two days before the day of sale.

The Times 30/4/1785  issue 107 pg.4. col.b

Port of Penzance to be sold at Custom House, Penzance.

The following goods, seized prior to the 10th October last, viz:

392 Gallon of Brandy

14 Gallon of Rum

92 Gallon of Geneva

17 Pounds of Tea

123 Pounds of Sugar

50 Pounds of Wool

2 Boats and other materials.

The Times 31/5/1787  issue 761 pg.3. col.a

Extract from a letter from on board his Majesty‚Äôs cutter Pigmy, Lieut. Oakes off Liverpool, May 15th.

On Sunday last, laying off Beaumaris, (Anglesey) we received information of a smuggling cutter being on that coast. We immediately stood to the West-ward, in hope of falling in with her ; but the weather being very hazy, little wind and a flood tide, it was thought hazardous to venture inshore with the cutter. We therefore took the boat and eight of the people (under the command of Mr. Alexander Thompson, midshipman) and a sufficient quantity of arms, and rowed along shore in quest of the smuggler. About one in the morning, as we opened Toms-Point, we perceived a vessel at anchor near the rocks, which proved to be her we were in search of. They immediately gave us three cheers, and told us not to come near, or they would fire into the boat ; we lay upon our oars for some time waiting for day-light. About half past two it cleared up, and we rowed towards them ; the smugglers then fired into the boat, and killed one of our men ; we returned the fire and boarded the vessel, which proves to be the Brilliant, of Looe, in Cornwall. The crew made their escape in the boat. One of the smugglers was killed, and we hear there were two or three wounded. James Williams the seaman, who was killed belonging to the Pigmy, was an excellent seaman, and his death is much lamented by the officers and crew.

The Brilliant had discharged all her cargo, except 64 casks of spirits, which we lodged in the Custom-house, Beaumaris.

The Times 18/10/1787  issue  877 pg.3. col.b.

The King George cutter, Captain Welsh in arrived at Penzance with a large smuggling cutter, laden with one ton of tea, one ton of tobacco, and 800 gallons of spirits. Which she took on the West coast. The men in the cutter amounting to 25, were immediately impressed into his Majestys service, and sent to Plymouth, in order to be put on board his Majestys ships fitting out there.

The Times 01/11/1787  issue  889 pg.2. col.b.

They write from Penzance, that since the cutters have been called off that coast for other service, the smuggling vessels have again made their appearance and two have landed their cargoes, part of which were disposed of among the people belonging to the tin mines, and the rest carried away by a gang of smugglers, who attended for that purpose.

The Times 10/11/1787  issue  897 pg.2. col.d

The Sandwich cutter is arrived at Penzance, and has taken in with her a found smuggling cutter, laden with one tone of tea, half a ton of tobacco, and 640 gallons of spirits..

The Times 6/1/1789  issue 1222 pg.4. col.d

St Ives Cornwall sale

To be Sold by Auction
At the Custom House in St Ives
On Thursday 26th April 1785
At Two oclock in the Afternoon,
The following GOODS, seized prior to
10th October last, viz
7031 Gallons of Brandy
1055 Gallons of Geneva
  119 Gallons of Rum
    25 Gallons of Compounds for 
         Colouring of Brandy
A Shallop, with her Tackle, Apparel
and Furniture.
A Quantity of Empty Casks.
N.B.  Upwards of 5,000 Gallons of the above
           Brandy is double spirits and London
           Proof of Coniac, samples of which may
           be seen and tasted at Mr. Thomas Woods
           Merchant, Abchurch Street, London. 

The Times 3/4/1789  issue 1337 pg.4. col.c

Sale at Looe.

The Times 20/8/1789  issue 1235 pg.4. col.c

St Ives, Plymouth and Fowey sales

The Times 12/2/1790  issue 1602 pg.4. col.c

Sale Brigantine LORD HOOD

The Times Dec 31, 1790

The Goddess of Voyages, Parnall, Master, a new smuggling cutter, lately built at Mevagissy, in Cornwall, was driven on Barnstaple Bar, on the 17th inst. Without a living creature on board. Her mast was carried away, but her cargo, which consisted of 900 ankers of Foreign spirits, is saved, This vessel  had just sailed from Guernsey, and was on her first voyage.

9 November 1791

The Felicity Revenue cutter, Lieut. Scott is arrived at Penzance and has brought in with her a seizure of tea, tobacco and about 800 Gallons of spirits, which were seized out of a wrecked smuggling cutter off Scilly.

1 August 1792

The Sandwich Revenue cutter has taken into Scilly the "Falcon smuggling cutter, laden with tea, tobacco and spirits valued at two thousand pounds.


4 February 1826
The French slave-vessel which was forced into St.Ives by stress of weather, was taken possession of by  Lieutenant G.H.
Rye, and his party of seamen belonging to the coast-guard service.

11 July 1826
A vessel called the Young Ferdinand, bound from France to Brussels, was run down by a schooner off the  Lizard , on the 
28th of last month. Soon after the accident the Young Ferdinand fell on her beam-ends, when the master was unfortunately 
drowned. The remainder of the crew took to their boats, and shortly after, landed at Cadgwith. On learning of the disaster, 
Lieutenant Hooper, of the Coast Guard stationed there, went off, with some boats and took the wreck in tow. By great
exertions they succeeded in bringing her in; and with the assistance of Captain Head, R.N., James Trevenen, Esq., 
collector of the customs at Helston, etc. the whole of the cargo, consisting of 300 casks of wine, was safely landed.

28 February 1829
A case at the Court of King's Bench, Guildhall, on Feb. 27 Russell and others v Avery
The case was brought by Thomas, George and James Russell, hop and seed merchants of Southwark, on the basis 
that a large quantity of their hops had found their way into the hands of Avery, who lived at Boscastle, in 
Cornwall. Avery had been the Lloyd's agent at Boscastle, but had been dismissed and replaced by Messrs. 
Thomas Pope Rosevear and William Sloggatt. The plaintiffs had sold a large quantity of hops to customers in 
Drogheda, and had shipped them by the Aera, Philip Atkins Williams, master and part owner. On the voyage, for 
some reason, the master had  left the other ships which were also travelling to Drogheda, and kept near the coast 
of Cornwall, eventually becoming a total wreck on rocks near Bude, the master and crew being all saved. On the 
beach concerned was  Lieutenant Keys, commander of the coast guard, who also held a deputation with the 
customs. He discussed the  position with the master, who asked him to do what he could to save the cargo and 
place it in the hands of the Lloyd's agent. In the meantime a large number of people had gathered, before the 
coast guards could get to the wreck, and Lieut. Keys told his chief boatman to be sure to get out to the vessel 
before the mob. When the tide ebbed there was a rush for the wreck. The coast Guard however, secured the 
cargo, but Avery then arrived with a
signed authority from the master of the ship to take the cargo. However, Lieut. Keys would not give it up as he intended 
to carry out the agreement he had to deliver the cargo to the Lloyd's agents. Keys, Rosevear & Sloggatt, then 
placed the cargo in a dry place, harried by Avery and his mob. Then Avery attacked the Preventive men, who 
defended themselves with their swords. Eventually they secured the cargo and guarded it all night, then loaded it 
on a cart and escorted it to Bude. Subsequently, by force, Avery and his party, with help from Captain Williams 
took the whole of the cargo. The Lloyd's agents then contacted the owners of the cargo and obtained their orders
 to get it back from Avery. Rosevear and Sloggatt tried to do so by offering to pay some compensation to Avery but  
the latter told them it was not their business, so in the end the owners took this case against Avery.
Jury found for the plaintiffs.
14 December 1830
The crew of the Bon Pere, were saved by the great exertions. Richard Johns, Esq., Trewince, Lieutenant  William James, 
R.N., and several other respectable individuals hastened to the spot, on being apprised that the vessel was on shore. Lieut. 
James , without hesitation, took off his coat and boots, plunged into the breakers, and swam to the vessel, whence 
he succeeded in bringing a line to the shore, by which the  crew were happily saved. Also the crew of the schooner 
Brothers were saved by the extraordinary exertions of Lieut. Alexander of the Coast Guard.
From the West Briton 

6 March 1832
Report of the death of Lieutenant Hambly, of the Coast Guard station at Mousehole. His body was found in a creek about
 2 miles east of Portreath, by a boy named Woolcock, who was gathering limpets. It was wedged in a crevice.
There was nothing to suggest who it was except the letters R.H. on the clothes, until the Mousehole station was reported 
missing by his family and in an alarming state of mind. He was then identified by some of the station  boatmen who had 
been searching for him. He had been injured in the head some years before in the West Indies and had never fully
 recovered. He had only 8 weeks before returned from an asylum. 

3 April 1834
Western Circuit, Launceston, Monday, March 31
Malicious Shooting by a Revenue Officer 
Jeremiah Murphy indicted for shooting James Rodd at St.German's, (Cornwall) Murphy was commanding boatman in  
the Coast Guard service Lieutenant Thomas Pennington, Chief officer of the Coast Guard at Portwrinkle John Cassidy, 
Coast Guard Captain Haswell, Inspecting-Commander of the Coat Guard at Devonport.

This case revolved around the fact that Murphy had been told by Cassidy, relaying a message from Lieutenant Haswell, to be
 on the look out for a smuggler that night. Murphy saw a boat and thought it might be the smuggler, and challenged it. according
 to him his gun went off accidentally. He then agreed to pay Rodd 10 in compensation, Rodd having apparently been injured only 
mildly, which Rodd accepted, but Murphy could not find the money to pay, so Rodd took him to Court. Murphy was defended 
by the Custom-house lawyers, and they were, apparently, given advance access to the depositions of  the prosecution  witnesses,
 which was the cause for some complaint by the Times, as unfair. Nevertheless, Murphy was found Guilty, but no sentence was 
passed on him.

7 February 1838

The coast in the neighbourhood of Goran Haven, Cornwall, has been visited by heavy gales of wind from the S.E., which

 have continued for several days. We regret to state that before daylight on Thursday morning, the 25th ult., a vessel was

 discovered on shore by Lieutenant Kiddle, R.N., chief officer, and a party of the Coast Guard at Mevagissey, under the

 Chapel Point, between Goran Haven and Mevagissey. The sea at the time was breaking over her, when, with great difficulty,

 and at much personal risk, one of the Coast Guard men named Patten, succeeded in getting on board, and remained there an

 hour and a half, and he, with the assistance of Lieutenant Kiddle, had the happiness to get the whole of the half-perished

 crew, 16 in number, on shore. She proves to be a French vessel named L'Endurance, of Havre, from St.Domingo to 

Havre laden with mahogany, rosewood etc.  


21 September 1840

On the night of the 3rd instant the coast guard crew of the Coverack station, Port of Falmouth, seized the Teignmouth,

of Portsmouth, Henry Riddett, master, with 133 tubs of contraband spirits, in the act of running. Crew escaped.


9 November 1840

On Tuesday the 28th ult., the Harpy revenue cutter, Lieutenant George Drew R.N., commander, captured, near the

 Eddystone, the Cawsand smuggling boat Five Brothers, and 22 half-ankers of foreign spirits throw overboard in the chase;

 the other part of the cargo was sunk with stones. And on Friday the same officer captured, off the Lizzard, the Fox,

 smuggling boat, belonging to Cawsand, with 127 half-ankers of foreign spirits and four men. 

27 June 1845

The Lords of the Treasury having directed that all seamen serving in the Coast Guard should be registered under the 

provisions of the act 7 and 8 Victoria, chap. 112, with a view of maintaining a correct register of the seamen employed in 
Her Majesty's service, the Commissioners of Customs have issued instructions to the collectors and controllers of the 
revenue at the various ports throughout the United Kingdom, to register the chief boatmen, commissioned boatmen and 
other boatmen, mariners, ordinary mariners, and boys of the first and second classes, serving in the Coast Guard, and to
 issue the requisite register tickets accordingly, upon application being made to them for the same. 


22 October 1850

Coast Guard Appointment:
Second-Master John Hales (b) (1829) to command at the station at Prussia Cove , vice Lieutenant Norton S. Sullivan.




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