Smuggling on the Thames. 1849

Smuggling on the Thames. 1849.

Her Majesty’s revenue cutter Vigilant, Captain Richard Gowlland, captured on Friday night last, in Sea Reach in the Thames, a spritsail barge, about 60 tons burden , having on board a crew of five persons, and a contraband cargo, consisting of 280 bales of tobacco, about 50lb. each, concealed under straw stacked on her deck. The barge was proceeding up the river in the usual manner as a coaster with straw for the London market; and had the smuggler been successful in escaping the protective force, between six and seven tons of tobacco would have been run, and the exchequer thereby lost the amount of duty. We believe this to be the largest seizure of tobacco that has been made in the Thames for the past 30 years.

HMS Vigilant

Smuggling on the Thames.- At the county magistrates’-office, Rochester, on Friday, William Woolf, John Stanley, William Warren, and two boys named French and Howe, were brought up in custody, at the instance of the Board of Customs, having on the 13th inst. Been found at Cliffe on board a certain vessel, liable to forfeiture, having on board 14,402 lb. of contraband tobacco. From the evidence of Captain Gowlland, Commander of the Vigilant revenue cutter, and James Clarke, the gunner, it appeared that about 9 o’clock on the night of the 13th inst., while cruising off Sea Reach, in thr Lower Hope, near Gravesend, they observed a vessel coming up the river on the Kent side, and on hailing her were told she was the Charlotte, of Maldon, from the Burnham river. On boarding her they found straw loosely about abaft the mast, and on removing it and opening the hatches, they discovered in the hold of the vessel 20 casks containing no less than 278 bales of tobacco packed in canvas and slung with cords ready for running, averaging about 50 lb. weight each. The crew were made prisoners and put on board the cutter for safety, and with the vessel and cargo were afterwards brought to Rochester. The court convicted the whole of them in the penalty of £100 each, recommending the two boys to the mercy of the Crown, but the penalties were not paid, and the prisoners were accordingly committed to Maidstone Gaol.

Ref: The Times December 17, 1849; pg.4.

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