Naval Database

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Coastguard, Coast Blockade, Revenue Cruisers, Excise, Preventive Waterguard, Riding Officers and Lighthouse Keepers.

Notes:

30 Jul 1801 an express came down this day to the Collector and Comptroller, which was forwarded to the port admiral, who ordered all the Revenue Vessels here to join Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson's flotilla at Deal.

13 Dec 1801 at Portsmouth Mr. Hiscock and Mr. Piddell, two officers of the customs at this port, being yesterday evening on the look-out, near the farther morass, on Southsea Common, they met a party of smugglers, from whom they took a quantity of tubs. After having them in their possession about a quarter of an hour, the smugglers returned, and marched up to the officers, in file, like soldiers, and, armed with large stones and pieces of railing, they swore they might as well die as lose their goods. The officers immediately presented their pistols, and threatened to fire, if they attempted to touch their tubs. The smugglers declaring they would have them or lose their lives, the contest instantly began. Each of the officers fired a pistol, which is supposed to have wounded some of the assailants : but unfortunately the officers were soon overpowered, and beat in so dreadful a manner with the butt ends of their own pistols, that Mr. Piddell, it is thought, will lose one cf his eyes, and is supposed to have saved his life by defending his head with his arms, which are in consequence most terribly beaten. Mr. Hiscock is also most severely bruised and wounded. The officers, being glad to escape with their lives, left the smugglers in possession of their tubs, Mr. Thomas Mottley, with his boat's crew, went out soon after in pursuit of the smugglers, and took one man, whose name is Bennet, with a cask of spirits. He is committed to gaol on suspicion of being one of the party.

13 Jan 1802 a trawl boat picked up at sea whilst fishing a raft with 200 ankers of brandy ; as she was going up Catwater, it being calm, and the Excise boat going down the roadstead, the people of both the trawl boat and the Excise boat were shooting gulls. A dispute arising who shot a gull which fell, the Excise boat rowed alongside to claim it, but when the Excise Officer got on board he perceived instead of a gull 200 ankers of brandy, and conducted the trawl boat to the Custom-House with her cargo.
7 Feb 1802 the Elizabeth trawl boat, seized about 14 days since in Catwater, Plymouth, by an excise boat, was this day liberated ; the liquor of course was forfeited.

27 Jan 1802 this afternoon departed Plymouth Sound on a cruise against the smugglers, the frigates Amelia, 44, Hon. Captain Herbert ; the Fisgard, 44, Captain Seymour ; Blanche, 36, Captain Hammond ; Amethyst, 36, Captain Glynn (acting); Uranie, 44, Captain H. Gage, and Nymph. It is reported that the smugglers have taken to using larger vessels, lately used as privateers until the peace, which are larger and better armed than the revenue cruisers, a large lugger having recently fired into 2 revenue cruisers, and hence the use of frigates and sloops, waiting to be paid off, to deal with the problem that has now arisen.

7 Feb 1802 the trawl boat Elizabeth, Capt Joe, seized by the Excise boat about a fortnight since in the Catwater, Plymouth, with a cargo of spirits found on a raft on the Whiting Ground, was liberated, but her cargo condemned. She is the property of Sir J Dineley, of Plymouth, who has so increased the fishing trade in the last year or two, there now being 30 trawl boats employed here, and using the vessels as a nursery for seamen, a number of apprentices are employed on them.

5 Apr 1802 [an example of the actions taken by the Admiralty against wide-spread smuggling activities along the South Coast]. Arrived Plymouth Sound the Amethyst, 36, from a long cruise against the smugglers, and is to re-provision and take in beer and water, in preparation for making a similar cruise next week. Three large smugglers, deeply laden with spirits have been taken by different cruisers and revenue vessels recently.

31 Jul 1802 change in rules for detaining smugglers : the new regulations respecting the limits allowed to smugglers, is altered from four leagues from any headland, and is extended to eight leagues from the nearest headland, which will be a great advantage to the cruisers and revenue cutters.

16 Dec 1802 yesterday morning a seizure of 20 ankers of spirits were brought to the Custom-house at Plymouth, seized at Port Wrinkle by the riding surveying officer for that district.

16 Dec 1802 a few days since a riding officer was on his rounds near Yealhampton, he perceived 2 smugglers with some uncustomed liquors, being armed he attempted very gallantly to seize them, but after a long struggle he was overpowered and beat most unmercifully. The villains made off, leaving him for dead. His scull is fractured, and he was taken to the Inn at Seckers Bridge, but small hopes were entertained for his recovery.

5 Jan 1803 newspapers of this date report that the Devon Coroner, Mr Whitford, took an inquest at Secker's Bridge, following the death of Mr Bartlett, Riding Surveyor of the Dartmouth and Yealampton District, who was recently cruelly beaten by smugglers and left to die, resulting in a verdict of wilful murder against person or persons unknown. However, it is observed that 4 smugglers were in custody and being examined by the Justices of the Plympton Division.

10 Jan 1803 the Eliza, of London, Capt Donnelson, from Rotterdam, bound to Bristol, with brandy and other goods, experienced much distress off the Edystone, by the sea breaking in upon her, which stove in a boat and water casks and other damage. On Saturday last, off Portland she picked up 8 hogsheads of French wine, floating in the water, and passed through up to one hundred more of the same sort, from which it was conjectured that a French vessel must have been lost near the Island.

11 Jan 1803 the Hope, of Lynn, a small smuggling vessel, from the stress of the weather, was yesterday obliged to run into harbour at North Yarmouth, where her cargo of 112 tubs of spirits was seized by the Custom-house officers. Her master was washed overboard the preceding night.

18 Jan 1803 it was reported at Sheerness that during the recent gales a large quantity of gin in half ankers, was driven on shore at Minster Manor, the booze being locked in the Lord of the Manor's Wreck house, but it was broken open during the night was stolen, presumably by the smugglers.

29 Mar 1803 five revenue cruisers departed N. Yarmouth, each with an RN Lieutenant with a press warrant, which would entitle these vessels to impress suitable men for the Service.

22 May 1803 the revenue cutter off Little Hampton, seized near Beachy Head, a cargo of 500 casks, and on Tuesday 57 casks were seized near Eastbourne, and three horse loads at Newhaven by the respective officers in the district.

26 Jan 1822 a few nights since Mr. Mottley of the Portsmouth Custom House took a boat with 60 or so tubs of spirits, in the act of running, close to one of the Guard ships in the harbour.

26 Jan 1822 during the last week 69 casks of foreign spirits were seized by the Preventive Boat at Bembridge.

31 Jan 1822 Lieut. N.D. Barnes, of Plymouth, appointed to the Preventive Service at Chichester.

11 Feb 1822 Lieut. Milbourne, of the guard ship HMS Vigo, in an attack on a party of smugglers was shot through the hand, and it is feared that he may lose his arm : the smugglers escaped.

14 Feb 1822 14 tubs of brandy and gin, and a wherry, were seized by the Preventive Boat stationed at Stoke's Bay.

23 Feb 1822 100 tubs of spirits were reported to have been crept up at Freshwater.

2 Mar 1822 the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury have directed that the forces employed for the prevention of smuggling on the Coast, (with the exception of the Coast Blockade on the coasts of Sussex and Kent), consisting of Revenue Cruisers, Preventive Waterguard, and Riding Officers, to be consolidated and placed under the orders of the Board of Customs.

3 Mar 1822 seized one of the boats of the Dove cutter with 30 tubs of foreign spirits ; 4th inst. seized another with 24 tubs ; and on the 12th inst. another with 28 tubs.

11 Mar 1822 a horse and cart were detained at Old Alresford in the last week, but the drivers made off on one of the horses, leaving the 32 tubs of brandy to be passed to the nearest Custom House, no details regarding the owner of vehicle available..

16 Mar 1822 it is reported from Newport, IoW, that upwards of 500 tubs of contraband spirits, besides tea &c., have been seized on different parts of the Island and deposited in the last 3 months.

18 Mar 1822 Captain Money, C.B., is appointed one of the Inspectors of the Coast Guard, for the prevention of smuggling on the Isle of Wight.

21 Mar 1822 FOR SALE at Portsmouth Custom House, in addition to 240 gallons of gin and 224 gallons of brandy, for private consumption and other miscellaneous items seized by the customs, the fast sailing cutter Providence, 30 tons, lately of Weymouth, with her boat, lately repaired ; also the James and Eleanor, 15 tons, lately of Weymouth, also with boat.

24 Nov 1826 the smack Four Brothers, William Harvey, of Portsmouth, recently arrived Penzance, from Jersey with apples, seized as 18 jars of Hollands found hidden in the apples, the master and crew being sent to prison.

1 Mar 1827 the Aim, of Cowes, was taken into Weymouth, on Thursday, on a charge of being concerned in the contraband trade.

5 Feb 1829 with the Yealm Preventive Boat, the Harpy's galley crept up 120 casks of spirits off the Mewstone.

8 Mar 1829 the boat's crew from the Nothe Station, at Weymouth, seized 140 casks of spirits concealed in a cavern near the Boiling Rock.

30 Aug 1830 it is reported that a court of inquiry held upon Lieutenant McGladdery [of the Coastguard], at Islandmore, Co. Mayo, and Lieutenant Hudson of the Skylark, has honourably acquitted both officers.

Circa 21 May 1832 the preventive boat at Atherfield, Isle of Wight, picked up 93 tubs of spirits off that station, which have been lodged at the Custom House, Cowes.

12 Jun 1832 a barge laden with chalk, crewed by 4 men, was seized by Lieut. Richard Hussey, Chief Officer of the Coastguard Station at Crouch River, Southend District, for having a quantity of tubs of foreign spirits on board, concealed amongst the cargo.

14 Jul 1832 at an inquest held before the Coroner at Portsmouth Samuel Griggs of the Coast Guard Service was found guilty of wilful murder, having supposedly killed Matthew Kennett, Esg., whilst running a quantity of contraband goods.

30 July 1832 Lieut. T. Henderson appointed from the Coastguard at Worthing to the Victoria revenue cutter.

8 Sep 1832 Lieut. S.C. Umfraville, Chief Officer at Portland, Dorset, has deposited 130 casks of foreign spirits, and one of tea, at the Custom House at Weymouth.

8 Sep 1832 the officers and men of Carrickfergus district have presented Capt. G.M. King, R.N., late inspecting commander, a handsome snuff box as a testimony of their respect and esteem.

26 Sep 1832 Lt. Nichols, commanding the Coastguard at Yantlet Creek [in the Thames IIRC ?] seized a tub boat with 60 kegs of contraband spirits, but crew escaped in a fast rowing galley, despite the best attempts of the CG. Per Kentish Gazette, via the Hampshire Telegraph.

21 Oct 1832 a large steamer arrived at Newhaven from Cork and landed 50 men, 40 women, and 95 children, all natives of Ireland, who have taken up abodes at the various Preventive Stations in the District of Captain Morgan, R.N. Similar bodies of people had already been dropped off at Rye and along the Sussex coast ; it being surmised in the source that the aim was to double man the stations in the fight against smuggling.

17 Nov 1832 Commander Joseph Sherer, of the Lymington Coast Guard, removed to the Weymouth District.

1 Dec 1832 Lieut. S. Umfraville, Chief Officer, Portland, has this week seized and deposited 46 casks of foreign spirits, at the Custom House, Weymouth.

Week ending 8 Dec 1832 Lt. John Wise, chief officer at Ramsgate has deposited at the Custom House several casks of foreign spirits, discovered in a private residence. This follows on his recent capture of a galley from Deal with 5 men and 36 half-ankers of spirits and 7 bales of silks.

Circa Sunday 23 Dec 1832 a serious affray took place on the coast near Weymouth, at about two o'clock, [a.m.], between a party of smugglers and Preventive men from the Weymouth station. This took place when not less than 100 smugglers were discovered bringing a contraband goods onto the beach at Lodmoor, and had already landed a considerable quantity of casks of liquors, and were thought to be in the act of removing them when they were surprised by the Preventive men, who seized the remainder. The smugglers attempted to recover these casks, but were resisted by the Preventive men who had been joined by the crew of the revenue cutter Eagle. However, the numbers of smugglers still exceeded the numbers of Preventive and Revenue men, who had to resort to loading ball in their pistols, to protect what they'd already recovered, as well as their own persons from the bludgeons of the smugglers, killing 2 of the smugglers, Brown (age 20), and Webber (age 15), and apparently wounding several others, according to the traces of blood found in the area. The 66 casks retained, along with the 2 bodies were carried into town in a wagon, with a strong escort. The inquest opened as a result was adjourned for further evidence.

6 Nov 1835 a few days ago hand-bills were circulated amongst the agricultural population of the Isle of Thanet, calling upon them to assemble in the neighbourhood of the new workhouse to take their prospects into consideration, and to determine upon the course to be adopted for their general benefit. The surplus men of the Preventive Service were collected from the coast, and stationed near the spot named for the meeting The labourers, however, did not obey the call, and the guard, after remaining in their hiding-place a considerable time, were dismissed to their stations. It was soon afterwards discovered that the whole was a ruse of the smugglers, who, in the temporary absence of the Preventive men contrived to "run" a very large cargo of valuable goods without detection. Maidstone Journal

2 Jan 1841 Lieutenant R. B. Bowden (1815) appointed to be Chief Officer.

2 Jan 1841 Mate William Henry Walters (1831), appointed be Chief Officer.

2 Jan 1841 Mate Charles F. Collett (1835), appointed be Chief Officer.

13 Feb 1841 Commander George Bissett, appointed from Dundalk to Fowey.

13 Feb 1841 Lieutenant Henry A. Finucane, appointed to be Chief Officer.

13 Feb 1841 Mr. W. C. Forsyth, Chief Officer of Selsey station, appointed to Kington near Littlehampton, vice Lieutenant Parry, removed to South Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.

19 Feb 1841 Portsmouth. It is reported that on Friday last Lieutenant R. Combauld, R.N. chief officer of the Langton station, Weymouth. succeeded in finding, secreted in the beach under the Station, 128 four gallon tubs of foreign spirits, being the cargo of a French smuggling vessel. From the appearance of the tubs they had but recently been deposited. They were on Sunday brought in, and delivered up to the custom-house at Weymouth.

12 Mar 1841 Coast Guard : Lieutenant R. E. BulIen (1830), appointed to be chief officer.

3 Apr 1841 Coast Guard. Commander Alexander Taubman Goldie (1839) to be Inspecting Commander.

3 Apr 1841 Mates J. G. S. M. Moore and Christopher Ludlow to be chief officers.

17 Apr 1841 Coastguard Lieutenant Knapman (1812) appointed to be chief officer.

20 Apr 1841 A party of smugglers made an attempt to run a cargo on the station of Lieutenant Bulley, RN., at Atherfield, Isle of Wight, when 59 tubs and one man were taken. The smugglers issued from all quarters, to the number of 30, but were soon dispersed by the resolute conduct of the officers and men on the station.

15 Apr 1841 Lieutenant Parsons, chief officer of Swanage a Coast Guard station, captured 8 notorious smugglers and tubs, and 1 flagon. The smugglers had got down by ropes over the cliff, and after the tub boat had put off the patrols prevented the smugglers from coming up at a place called Tilly Whim, near Warleston Head. This is the third capture made by this officer, besides having rendered assistance to a great number of wrecks, while in command at St. Alban's Head.

8 May 1841 Coast Guard, Commander A. T. Goldie, appointed to be inspecting Commander.

22 May 1841 Coast Guard Lieutenant W. H. Lloyd (1815), appointed to be chief officer.

26 Jun 1841 Coast Guard, Lieutenants Ross Connor (1807) and Augustus Bolton (1825) appointed to be Chief Officers.

7 Aug 1841 Lieutenant W. Stanbury, appointed to be Chief Officer on the Coast Guard;

21 Aug 1841 Lieutenants Charles Goullet (1814), William Hay (1830), appointed to be Chief Officer.

18 Sep 1841 Coastguard Commander C. Parker R. N., from Sligo, is appointed Inspecting Commander of Coastguard to the Waterford district, in the room of Commander the Hon. G. Hastings, appointed to the command of Her Majesty's ship Harlequin.

18 Sep 1841 Lieutenant J. Clerk, to the Coastguard, at Romney.

4 Dec 1841 Captain Peter Fisher, appointed to be Controller-General of the Coast Guard, vice Bowles.

11 Dec 1841 Captain Peter Fisher appointed to succeed Rear-Admiral Bowles, C.B., as Controller General of the Coast Guard.

17 Dec 1841 Captain Phipps Hornby, C.B., Superintendent of HM Dockyard, Woolwich, has been appointed Surveyor-General of the Coast-Guard, vice Bowles, promoted to be a flag officer.

15 Jan 1842 110 kegs of spirits, brandy and hollands, lodged at the Exeter Custom House, by Lieutenant Pullen of the Dawlish Coastguard. The story behind the seizure goes roughly as follows : a small boat, French bult, was found on the shore near Teignmouth, with a hole in the bottom, having probably been stove in on a rock. At the time of the discovery a small French sloop was lying off Teignmouth, which was boarded and searched by the Coastguard, but nothing was found in her. It was then concluded that the damaged boat must have been landing kegs which must be secreted somewhere. Accordingly a search was started along the coast, and in a cave near a rock known as the "Parsons" the contraband was found, covered in weed etc. to hide it.

21 May 1842 Lt T.A. Lewis apptd from the Warbarren CG station to HMS Crane.

21 May 1842 Lt. J.H. Jeffries appt. from Walton Gap to St Nicholas CG stations.

27 Jul 1842 the Coast Guard seized a boat with 50 tubs of foreign spirits between Dover and the North Foreland. The smugglers, excepting one man, escaped.

8 Aug 1842 the Hampshire Telegraph reports that the Board of Admiralty have resolved that, in addition to one commander, one Lieutenant, and one Mate, employed in the Coast Guard, now promoted annually on the recommendation of the Commissioners of Customs, irrespective of their qualifications by service at sea, two other Lieutenants shall be selected for promotion - one from the chief officers, and another from the commanders of revenue cruisers, both of whom must have served two years in one or more of Her Majesty's sea-going ships ; and that all Lieutenants who have served two years in one or more of such ships, may likewise be allowed to reckon three years' service in the Coast Guard, if chief officers, of 18 months, if commanding revenue cruisers, as equivalent to one year's service in any of Her Majesty's ships, provided such officers shall have certificates from the Comptroller-General of the Coast Guard that their conduct has been "active, zealous, obedient, and in all respects perfectly satisfactory."

8 Aug 1842 Lieut Thomas Heales apptd. to Selsey Bill Station ; C.E. Wilmot to the command of a Station of Coast Guard.

c 22 Oct 1842 The Preventive Boat under the command of Lieutenant G. P. Trounsell, stationed at Babbacombe, near Torquay, is reported to have seized 150 kegs of contraband spirits, and lodged them at the Dartmouth Custom House.

1 Nov 1842 134 four gallon tubs containing brandy and hollands (pure spirit), was crept up at Worborrow, by the boats on that station, under the command of Lt. Wilmot, which were deposited at the warehouse of HM Customs at Weymouth. A French smuggling cutter, with a tub boat astern, came into Weymouth harbour the same day.

25 Dec 1842 in the morning some men of the Warbarrow Coast Guard Station, Dorset, commanded by Lt Wilmott, RN, found concealed in the Gad Cliffs 108 tubs of foreign spirits, which were delivered up to the Customs at Weymouth [Cor ! I bet that spolt someone's Xmas ;-)]. The 1901 Census suggests that Coastguard families accounted for more than half the population and when the Station was closed in 1911-12 the population declined accordingly and never recovered ; the Coast Guard Station being demolished soon afterwards.

In 1846 Henry Baldwin, Rock Island Chief Officer, took government officials around in a Coast Guard boat with Alexander O'Driscoll, a "local middleman" to show the effect of the potato famine in the area. O'Driscoll asked the government to supply meal by steamer and have it distributed by the Coast Guards. The following year in February 1847, according to Captain Thomas, "bread-stuffs" were sent by the British Relief Association on board the H.M.S. Rhadamanthus to the Rock Island Coast Guard station but Baldwin was not allowed to distribute them. A few bags of flour were sent to Goleen(4). Later that same month, some 500 labourers from the local famine relief road works, carrying their shovels, went to Baldwin to demand food. The H.M.S. Protheroe had just arrived in the harbour with 109 tons of bread-stuffs donated by the British Relief Association. The captain of the ship was ordered by Captain Harston of the British Relief Association to leave for Schull. The local men attempted to prevent the ship's departure with the port pilot refusing to take the ship out of the harbour for fear of the crowd. Eventually it was towed to Schull by another government steamer where it discharged 364 sacks of food. According to Alexander O'Driscoll at the time 25 people a day were dying(5).
(4)Hickey, Famine in West Cork, 179.
(5)Hickey, Famine in West Cork, 188.
[With many thanks to Aidan Power]

Preventing smuggling - in November 1856 Lieut. T. Hungerford, the District Officer of the Coast Guard, wrote from Castletownsend "as the winter season draws on and it is also appearing that smuggling transactions are taking place upon the coast I have to desire that the utmost vigilance may be observed at the several stations and on board the Bantry".
(6)Irish Coast Guard Order Book 1852-60, National Maritime Museum, London, MS85/106.
[With many thanks to Aidan Power]

6 Feb 1859 the Coastguard men belonging to the Rottingdean Division, Sussex, rendered salvage service to the merchant vessel Viscaya, salvage monies being available for payment from 22 Sep 1859.

23rd of September 1867, James Doyle, Crookhaven lightkeeper, reported to the Secretary that a large outer pane of green glass was "broken from exercising of gun". For some reason it was not until the 30th of October that the Irish Lights' Board was informed. It was, according to Doyle, as a result of the Coast Guard exercising nearby in the gunboat Bruiser. When questioned about the incident, the Admiralty replied "on no occasion were the guns of HM Ship Bruiser fired in the vicinity of Crookhaven and on the 23rd inst. the day the glass was broke she was at anchor in Castletownsend but that HMS Blazer on that date was firing at a mark about a mile from the Lighthouse in the direction of the village of Glun [Goleen?]". The Admiralty however denied responsibility for breaking the glass. Later James Doyle wrote to say that J.S. Sloane, Superintendent of Works, told him the glass breakage was "caused by the heat of the sun"(1). Doyle reported in November that another pane of green glass was broken on the 5th. He added that the gunboat Bruiser was "practising on that day"(2).
(1) Journal No.24, Commissioners of Irish Lights, p. 376.
(2) Lighthouse Register 1867, Commissioners of Irish Lights, 8th November 1868.
[With many thanks to Aidan Power]

In February 1878 Isaac Notter's request to transfer the contract for provisioning the Fastnet to his brother Richard was approved by the Board. The Board noted a complaint from Mr. Notter in April 1879 that French luggers had prevented him leaving Crookhaven harbour to service Fastnet. To assist him he said that the Coast Guard had twice sent HMS Orwell. It was noted however that Notter had caused "the Admiral at Queenstown much trouble" and added "if Mr Notter's moorings were in a proper place and not in the fairway of the Harbour, no inconvenience would be caused"(3).
(3) Journal No.31, Commissioners of Irish Lights, 18th April 1879.
[With many thanks to Aidan Power]

Jul 1890 Commissioned Boatman C. Curtis, Boatman Thomas Harris and Boatman Frederick Drier, of the Coastguard, awarded LS & GC Medal.