Irish smuggling

30th March 2022

From Report relating to frauds in the Customs, 1733, Appendix, pp. 634-5.

By Letter dated in December and January 1731, from the Officers at Falmouth. 15.

The Commissioners received Notice of the Seizure of 233lb. of Tobacco, and a considerable Quantity of other Goods out of the Sarah Sloop, Samuel Pascoe Master, from Guernsey; as also the said Sloop, which Goods have been since condemned, and the Sloop burnt for importing Brandy that was seized with the Tobacco and other Goods.

By Letter, dated 27 April 1732, from the Officers at Fowy. 16.

The Commissioners received an Account of the Seizure of 2,946lb. of Leaf Tobacco and 78lb. in Rolls, with other Goods out of the Patience Sloop, George Leigh Master, a noted Smuggler, from Guernsey; which Tobacco is since condemned: And this is one of the Sloops mentioned in the foregoing Letter from Capt. Ashe, who makes it a constant Practice to run such Goods from Guernsey.

Extract of a Letter dated 28 April 1732, from Captain Ashe, Commander of the Custom House Sloop at Dartmouth, to the Solicitor of the Customs. 17.
There are about 25 Sail of Vessels which are about Twelve or Fourteen Tons each, betwixt Plymouth and the Land's End, that make it a constant Practice to go over to Guernsey, and bring over Tea, Brandy, Rum, Tobacco, Soap, Cloth, Wine, and other Goods, and run it ashore, in Defiance of all Officers, having 80 or 100 Men well armed to assist them at Half an Hour's Warning, who will land a Cargo in an Hour or Two; and they are always provided with Horses to carry it into the Country; so that it is impossible to take them when Bulk has been broken; and the have delared they will claim every Thing that is seized.

By Letter, dated 28 April 1732, from the Officers at Leverpoole. 18.

The Commissioners received an Account, that the King's Boat at Youghall in Ireland had brought in the Elinor Brigantine of Waterford, Joseph Fagan Master, who was found hovering on the Coast with 53 Trusses containing 70 cwt. of Tobacco, being Part of a larger Quantity with which this Vessel cleared out at Leverpoole for Bilboa in Spain, the remainder being supposed to be Run; whereupon the Commissioners directed the Payment of the Debenture to be stopped, until they could get a further account of this Fraud from the Commissioners of the Revenue at Dublin, to whom a Letter was wrote for that Purpose, and by Three Affidavits sent by them, there appeared very strong Circumstances to suspect the said Tobacco was landed in Ireland, but not sufficient to forfeit the Debentures; wherefore the Commissioners here wrote again to the Commissioners at Dublin, desiring them to get the further Proofs, which the Solicitor was of Opinion were necessary, and the Officers at Leverpoole directed to continue a Stop on the Debentures; and the Board are in Expectation of gaining fuller Evidence of the Fraud.

By an Information received in June 1732 from Robert Nash. No. 19

Ten thousand Four hundred and Three Pounds of Tobacco shipped at Leverpoole for Guernsey, was fraudulently landed in Ireland; whereupon a Prosecution was commenced against the Exporter, for Repayment of the Drawback, amounting to £228.0.2½, and for double that Sum, which by law was forfeited; but the Evidence having withdrawn himself, the Cause could not go on.


By a Letter, dated 28 July 1732 from the Officers of Penzance. 20

The Commissioners received Proofs, that Goods were run out of the Mary, one Richard Richards Master, who was supposed to come from Guernsey; upon which the Officers seized the whole Cargo, consisting of 7,336lb. of Tobacco, and Brandy, which are since condemned.


By Letter, dated 18th November 1732, from Falmouth. No. 23

The Commissioners received an Account from Falmouth, of the Seizure of 4,673 Pounds of Tobacco and other Goods, out of the William, an open boat, Samuel Pascoe Master, from Guernsey, which has been condemned.

By Letter, dated 7 January 1732, from the Officers at Dartmouth. 24.

The Commissioners received an Account, that Capt. Ash had brought in the Ann and Jane Sloop, of about 12 Tons Burthen, laden with 12 Bags, containing 1,380 Pounds of Tobacco and other Goods, from Guernsey. This Vessel was found at Anchor in Start Bay, within a quarter of a Mile from the Shore, near the Place where lay at Anchor, had he not been prevented by the Captain; and there being Proof of an intended Fraud, the Goods were condemned.

The Captain brought in, at the same Time, the Dolphin Sloop, Burthen 50 Tons, James Sullivan pretended Master, but last from Guernsey, laden with 90 Bags of Tobacco, and a considerable Quantity of other Goods: this Sloop was found at an Anchor in Start Bay, about Half a Mile from the Shore; and the Officer learnt, that one Bell was Master of her, who was left behind at Fowey, in order to be ready, with Men and Horses, to take the Goods on Shore when the Sloop should arrive on that Coast; and that this Sullivan was an old Smuggler on the Cornish Coast; and there were Two Men brought over in this Sloop, who ran away before the Captain came up with her, for fear he should know them. The Circumstances were very strong Reasons to suspect a Fraud; but the Officers not being able to get sufficient Proof of breaking Bulk, the Commissioners, upon advising with their Solicitor, ordered the Sloop and Goods to be discharged, upon the Master's giving a Bond not to land the Goods in this Kingdom.


See Cullen, Louis, 'Smuggling on the Galway and Mayo coasts. 1790s-1820s: the Guernsey connection and its aftermath', Journal of the Galway Arch. & Hist. Soc., 69 (2017), pp. 99-120.