Wednesday, 22 April 2015

S is for Smuggling …




Cornwall is renowned for its smuggling … so a-smuggling shall we go …

Grublin Games Publishing
Penzance - a Kickstarter company ...
I just appropriately found


In England smuggling first became a recognised problem in the 13th century, following the creation of a national customs collection system by Edward 1 (Edward Longshanks) 1239 – 1307.



From this period onwards taxes were required to fund extremely expensive wars with France and then with the United States …


iphone photo of a postcard on Cornish highlights
from a David Hobbs illustration
Medieval smuggling knowledge has been based on official sources – which as a researcher commented ‘the trouble with these is they only detail the activities of those dumb enough to get caught’; wool, hide, grain were smuggled out avoiding tax …



The high rates of duty levied on tea, wine and spirits, and other luxury goods coming in from Europe, Asia and the Americas made the clandestine import of such goods and the evasion of duty a highly profitable venture … and for a while unrecorded …


"The Harbour, Polperro" by
Edward Frederick Ertz

… the smuggling industry was more economically significant than legal activities such as farming and fishing.


Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” commented: “Few places on the British coast did not claim to be the haunts of wreckers or mooncussers”. 


Cornwall suited the trend … its long rocky coast, with tiny coves, creeks, inlets, wide bays and beaches all ideal for thwarting any revenue men who might be around …


A postcard
However early on smuggling involved the local gentry, who might turn a blind eye, or get fully involved and reap the benefits.  Cargoes were landed on shore … goods were dispersed … tea, brandy, gin, rum, tobacco and even pepper … spice being a highly valued commodity.


Ships would drop anchor off-shore and sell china, silk and cotton goods free of local tax to the local seafarers …


After 1800 the Revenue became more organised, which is when the tactics changed … smuggled goods were dropped off at remote locations and picked up again when the coast was clear. 

 
Smugglers needs - a barrel, a buoy for finding
the floating contraband, a flagon, a candle
holder

Tunnels and passages were dug out of the rocks to expedite the dispersal of the contraband … much of which went up country … a rough journey in the days before tarmac.



Jamaica Inn is one of the staging posts well known today as the setting on Bodmin Moor for Daphne du Maurier’s novel … where perhaps the bleak setting, the grey thick mists hanging heavy, the lure of the wind whistling across the bruised and craggy landscape … added to the myth and truth about the smugglers – innocent fishermen, or villainous smugglers, thugs or chancers …


 
The Pub sign
The risks were high ... transportation to the colonies, or worse: hanging, or hanging and left as an example to others …


There are some horrendous stories of famous smugglers and their families … some so cruel it almost beggars belief: the exertion of power and control.




Smugglers’ beaches are a-plenty … on the north coast .. is Pepper Cove … Hell’s Mouth … as long as there was a landing space, a beach to unload, a way up the cliffs … where they were unsighted from land or sea …


Smuggling characters form the Grublin Games

Trencrom Hill, Lelant … had a granite cottage, which was used as a 19th century kiddlewink (a beer shop): smugglers excavated a cave alongside for the concealment of contraband.


I found the photo .. now cannot find the beer
ah well!!
A smuggler drove a cart load of silk up to the Angel Inn pub, but the landlady warned him of a party of searchers awaiting his arrival.  The smuggler’s son was sent off with the cart, while the smuggler walked into the bar and bought the revenue a round of drinks to keep them talking …  his son meanwhile went off and hid the silk, so when the cart was searched the provisions were all legal.


Another Museum for you:
Polperro Heritage Museum of
Smuggling and Fishing
Wreckers ensnared ships to the coast by tricking them with the use of beacon lights, which were purposely installed … once the ships foundered they were looted by the wreckers, with the contraband being quickly dispersed along the bridleways and lanes of inner and coastal Cornwall.



Numerous type of hideaways were used, cliff caves, dug-outs, mine shafts, secret tunnels, safe houses, pirates’ dens … the wreckers operated along the Cornish coasts … with Cornwall being very aptly described as the “haven of smugglers” in view of its topographical features of “rocky coves, sheltered bays, tumultuous waves and wild and untenanted landscapes”.


Some of the towns and areas
I've mentioned in the posts




Smuggling villages, settlements ready for some smuggled contraband  ….







That is S for Seasoned and wizened, Sozzled and Soaked, Salted Smugglers who Seized and Sneaked Supplies from unSuspecting vessels to Seek fair trade with oft-Starving Sufferers in the Settlements abounding the Shores of Cornwall … from Aspects of British Cornish …


A website about Cornish Smuggling

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

49 comments:

Clarabelle Rant said...

Is it strange that I found your post slightly romantic? I'm thinking of clandestine meetings, secret caves, silks and spices... I realize the truth was more the opposite!

You can find me here:
ClarabelleRant

Suzanne Furness said...

My husband has the game you mention! Smugglers and secrets, great 'S' post, Hilary.

J Hanna said...

Smuggling seems to be a subject novels could be written about for years to come.

Rosie Amber said...

There are some really great books written with a smuggling Cornish theme, I'm thinking dark Gothic here.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Not just Jamaica Inn, some of du Maurier's other novels also use this aspect of the Cornish coastline, explicitly or implicitly. Swashbuckling...though reality is more Shocking. Great S-post.

Best,
Nila

Rhodesia said...

Smuggling in those days almost sounds like fun. Now it has just become downright dangerous. Smuggling in drugs that kill people, smuggling in people who get drowned and so it continues.... Keep well Diane

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

When you over tax something or ban something smuggling is always profitable. Funny how smugglers seems romantic and wreckers totally not and they were prevalent in the same areas.
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

Mark Clough said...

Smuggling, quite romantic, but in reality probably pretty grim. Even so, one can't help liking the tales of smuggling in days of yore. I'd be surprised if the rugged coastline of Cornwall and Devon was not still used for smuggling, but probably not brandy and fine wine.

Out on the prairie said...

A hard life to beat taxes

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I agree with Mark...seems very romantic, but the reality was probably anything but! But still, the idea of hideaways on the cliffs, caves, secret landings...all a lot of fun to read about.

Mark Koopmans said...

For some reason, I think it would have been fun to be a mooncusser :)

Smuggling must have been, at the very least, a hairy and interesting career choice in those days!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Smuggling is criminal--unless you think of a suave, rugged but handsome pirate who gives you chills and things.

That's a good smuggler.

Love YOUR post. Have I ever told you that the word Smuggler makes me giggle? I have no idea why.

Jo said...

Makes me think of Dr. Syn, did you read those books Hilary. Smuggling was not really the romantic occupation most people thing it was. Lots of deaths and during the Napoleonic Wars, for instance, it was treasonous, aiding the enemy with British gold ending up in Napoleon's coffers. Still makes a great background for novels though. There was lots of smuggling in Kent where I lived as well as Sussex (where I also lived for a few years). Fascinating history - had never heard of mooncussers before nor kiddlewinks, I particularly like that one.

Jennifer Hawes said...

Love the idea of smuggling! I think of pirates and ships loaded with smuggled goods. Makes for great stories:)

Bish Denham said...

Must have been a difficult life. I read Jamaica Inn years ago. I didn't know it was based on a real place. Makes it even more exciting.

Susan Scott said...

O M Word! So dark and dangerous a history! Probably won't be able to snuggle into my bed tonight imagining .. of course it's a highly profitable trade these days. So much damage ... I think I'll take a sleeping draught tonight. Thanks Hilary, this post has got me all a'jangly. (maybe it's the A-Z though).

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

They really went to extremes to sell goods illegally. I wonder if there are still caves filled with goods along the coast?

Chrys Fey said...

I didn’t know Cornwall was renowned for its smuggling. Good to know. Neat history lesson into all of this too.

jabblog said...

Smuggling, at least in the 'olden days'. seemed so romantic - and yet clearly it was less romantic than fraught with danger and hardship.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Clarabelle – well that’s good … I was worried about it … smuggling was not an easy ‘sport’ … and if the post comes across as romantic (even slightly) that’s good @ Suzanne – you didn’t say if the game is fun?! Lots of smuggling secrets in the west!

@ J – exactly lots of smuggling stories – novels, short stories … and for years to come ..

@ Rosie – I’m sure there are dark gothic books about smuggling in Cornwall – but I will have to have a look for those …

@ Nila - du Maurier knew the area well … Swashbuckling – I could have used that S word … missed one! And reality would have been much worse … though a sign of the times and accepted as such in those days …

@ Diane – the way we interpret smuggling does sound like fun doesn’t it .. but now it is appalling how things have really changed and gone so evil …

@ Tasha – yes .. sadly that’s the way … the baddies win for a while til they’re caught. Interesting point about the smugglers being romantic, while the wreckers definitely weren’t …

@ Mark – I suspect it was very grim. But as you say we have some good stories, and lore to draw on from those days of yore … well certainly smuggling is still going on – so I’m sure it’s happening around Cornwall … but probably not something in a breakable bottle

@ OOTP – yes … I’m sure many were caught … transported or hanged …

@ Elizabeth – great story telling can be gleaned from the smugglers … but I think it would be an awful life … still the locals were friendly and helpful as they were from the same stock …

@ Mark – I loved the word Mooncusser – presumably RLS’ description … and I don’t think there’d have been a choice – it was a necessity … to live and provide for the village …

@ Teresa – I did have thoughts about a sauve, handsome do gooder of a pirate as I wrote this … but think I’ll stick in the 21st century – life is easier!

A giggling Teresa – over the smuggling word .. I can haunt you with that …..?

@ Jo – having had a quick glance at the Dr Syn books – no I never read them … they’re based in your old haunting ground – Kent and Sussex, and where I am now .. Sussex. There’s lots of smuggling references down here too … thanks for telling me about Dr Syn …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jennifer – yes it sounds ‘fun’ doesn’t it … pirates, and lots of loot .. and they do make for good stories …

@ Bish – dreadful life I suspect – always at risk of being fleeced of your booty. Yes – du Maurier stayed there for a while I believe … but I’ll reconfirm that ..

@ Susan – the coast of Cornwall must have been riven with smugglers and loot … I hope you can snuggle up tonight! Today’s smuggling of people and drugs .. is too horrible to think about .. Sorry about the a’jangly feel …

@ Alex – necessity to live … poverty was everywhere … I doubt if there’s a cave left with goods – but who knows … could well be – and that’d be a good starting point for a book …

@ Chrys – most of England in fact … but the Cornish coast is really prevalent for it … and thanks re the history bit ..

@ Janice – good to see you … and smuggling in those days to us appears to be romantic .. but I’ll stick with my easier 21st century life … much easier than the danger, let alone the hardship …

Thanks everyone – so lovely to have you here … I’ll be catching up shortly .. cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne .. bother I replied .. but it went AWOL ..

I asked what your husband thought of the game?

Smugglers and Secrets couldn't go wrong for and S day .. cheers Hilary

Joanne said...

Super S words. Love sozzled - that just makes it. I realize smuggle is a "bad thing" but it does have a whiff of romanticism with ships, mists, and coves.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I certainly understand the desire to get around crippling taxes. Smuggling appears in so many historic novels set in the British Isles.

Margie said...

I get a History lesson every time I visit you, thanks Hilary
So enjoyed ...

Bob Scotney said...

I would have been upset if you had not included Jamaica Inn.

Jeffrey Scott said...

Seriously suffered shock seeing such sufficient smuggling stories.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Love all your wonderful stories. Bet some of these smuggling locations are great for novels!!! Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting on the paintings!!!

LD Masterson said...

Smugglers in those day seem romantic and adventurous, no doubt because of the romantic/adventure stories written about them. Now, we hear smuggling and think of illegal drugs. Nothing could be less romantic.

Annalisa Crawford said...

When my dad was researching his family tree, I asked him to find a pirate in the family. He has not, so far, and I'm slightly disappointed :-(

Annalisa, writing A-Z vignettes, at Wake Up, Eat, Write, Sleep

Nick Wilford said...

With so many ways in, it's almost like there were more smuggled goods than legitimately imported ones.

Sophie Duncan said...

In our part of the country, we have more folk history about poachers than smugglers :) Although a bit further away, where I grew up down near the Romney Marsh, Dr Syn the Scarecrow was a famous smuggler.
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
FB3X
Wittegen Press

Marcy said...

Another fabulous and intriguing post about Cornwall. I love your research and insights into the history and also fiction.


Haneen I. Adam said...

Interesting facts, I think you just added more depth to my WIP :) thank you very much!
"Haneen/I Will Never Give you Up (302)"

M. J. Joachim said...

Your detailed smuggling history is quite interesting, Hilary. As I read through your post, I couldn't help but think of current smuggling situations here in the United States, mainly from Mexico. As much as it has changed over the years, smuggling is still a very dangerous and unlawful act affecting so many people, and creating havoc in our societies.

loverofwords said...

It seems so much worse now. I think the novels written in past years about smuggling make it a bit adventurous and dashing almost.

Sara C. Snider said...

Such fantastic history--swashbuckling smugglers. Romanticized in fiction with daring rogues, but I imagine the truth was much more gruesome. Quite fascinating, all the same.

Manzanita said...

I sounds like smuggling was a family business handed down from father to sons.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne – thanks .. yes lots of sozzled smugglers! The stories always add to the mystery ..

@ Susan – yes and particularly in the countryside, where they really were scratching to make a living … smuggling lends itself to novel and historical writing ..

@ Margie – so glad you enjoyed the read through ..

@ Bob – I wasn’t sure what to include .. there’s so much about smuggling ..

@ Jeffrey – thank you for all your Sess’s .. lovely comment ..

@ Monti – I think Cornwall inspired the cultural set … art and literature … your art is a pleasure to visit ..

@ LD – yes didn’t they seem romantic and adventurous … and I’m sure remembered through the lore, rhymes and stories and then the books written about them. Now it’s just dreadful ..

@ Annalisa – oh how unfortunate .. well you never know he might still find you a pirate .. ?! A Dad cannot disappoint his daughter – surely?!

@ Nick – there are loads of nooks and crannies for some unsavoury business going on – and I’m sure you’re right .. more smuggled goods than legitimate ones ..

@ Sophie – Poachers too – a good point and I expect poaching occurred down in Cornwall. Smuggling too up here in Sussex and Kent .. and I’ve never heard of Dr Syn til now … or his nickname .. how interesting .. I shall need to find out more ..

@ Marcy – thanks for stopping by … appreciate your comment ..

@ Haneen – well if I’ve helped your WIP that’s great – good luck with it ..

@ MJ – I hardly touched our smuggling smugglers – too, too many! But now it’s really sad .. we have people escaping the wars in the Middle East and Africa and they’re escaping via the Mediterranean with devastating effects … drug smuggling is so dreadful to think about …

@ Nat – I think you might be right … it is really bad now …

@ Sara – I think you would be right .. reality was gruesome … but it’s interesting to know about – that I agree …

@ Manzanita – I expect there was a lot of that too .. father to son … heading up the gang of looters ..

Thanks everyone – so wonderful to have your comments – cheers Hilary

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Hilary, what an informative and interesting post about mining. Interesting about the location where Heathrow Airport is now. Also, about arsenic use!

TexWisGirl said...

a dangerous way to make a living, for sure!

Lisa said...

Brought Daphne to mind again... My daughter had never heard of "Rebecca" and in a conversation with her day before yesterday, I recommended she try it. Cornwall, in my opinion is one of the most romantic sounding places on the island. I'm sure, though, that you could introduce me to a lot more! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm sorry that I got here so late, but I'm glad that I didn't miss your sensational smuggling story! Not only does this have a supreme succession of "S,'s" but it reads like a spy caper! Simply superb, Hilary!

Julie

J Lenni Dorner said...

There's a game? That's awesome.
Funny how taxes were also a big reason the war with the States started, lol.
The ale looks interesting.

samantha mozart said...

Somehow these stories of smugglers are far more romantic, Hilary, than those of drug cartels today.

"Jamaica Inn" -- one of my favorite Daphne Du Maurier novels. I see it's once again been made into a movie -- 2014, with Jessica Brown Findlay ("Downton Abbey"). I will check that out. Hopefully, it's filmed on location.

Samantha Mozart
http://thescheherazadechronicles.org

fabfortee said...

I would have never associated Cornwall with smuggling. I always thought it's a quiet place with nice beaches.
Obviously I need to visit Cornwall one day and I will refer to your posts to get an idea of what it was like in the olden days.
Thank for the all the really interesting snippets of information.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Monti – thanks for the mining comment here in smuggling – but I’m just glad you enjoyed it … and taking in the fact about Heathrow …

@ Theresa – yes, but about the only way to make something of a living for your family …

@ Lisa – I’m glad you’ve opened your daughter’s eyes to “Rebecca” – it’s a great story by one of our excellent authors. We all have childhood memory banks … some went to Wales, some to Scotland, we went to Cornwall – so are very home from home there. Ireland is special too …

@ Julie – no worries, I’m even later responding to your comment … delighted you enjoyed all the Ssssssses!

@ J – yes someone in Cornwall was creative enough to bring a smuggling game out. Yes you could say the tea tax escalated a few problems in the 1770s between England and the States – no representation in the English Parliament didn’t help at all.

We have lots of micro breweries springing up – so I imagine the ale tastes good ..

@ Samantha – well it looks like they had lives … no doubt totally romanticised by us – but the drug cartels of today just invoke horrorific thoughts …

The “Jamaica Inn” film has had poor reviews … the sound was very poor and it was very very dark, so difficult to see … it came out in April 2014 – and I think I just thought this is impossible to watch … especially with the A-Z going on. It was filmed on location in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria … perhaps they’ll lighten it up and improve the sound and reissue …

@ Shalijay – yes it’s remembering back through the centuries life without roads, poverty, insufficient food or goods to trade with … we are very lucky in today’s age. I think I’ve portrayed Cornwall as it was, and as it is now … but realising what life was like centuries ago is quite hard …

Thanks everyone so much … I’m so late in getting to reply to these comments … and I’m so pleased you enjoyed the smuggling lore .. cheers Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

So this is probably my last round of lurking...

"… the smuggling industry was more economically significant than legal activities such as farming and fishing." And I wonder how much has really changed. You know what they say - the more things change, the more they stay the same...
The word "smuggling" has now been replaced by "trafficking" and we all know how lucrative that industry has become... and the trafficking of "human contraband" is the saddest of all!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - this was a long smuggling post to lurk around - thank you!

Yes - life doesn't change much does it .. just its spots and way things are done - though now we seem to have reached the appalling zenith of what humanity will do to each other, or the terribleness of seeing humanity at its lowest and most desperate try to reach Europe ... in the hope of a better life - some will get it .. many will need to struggle on ... so so sad and so difficult for so many - Hilary