The Swift cutter, April 24 1800

From the London Chronicle, 1800. A Polperro smuggler nearly escapes at Guernsey.

PLYMOUTH. Came in the Swift cutter, of 14 guns, Lieutenant Sir John Colleton, from Guernsey; she brought over as a prisoner, Roger Toms, a smuggler, late of Polperra, and one of the crew of the Lottery smuggling cutter, late of that place, by the firing from which vessel in December in 1798, Humphrey Glyn, an Officer of the Customs, was killed. Toms was admitted to bail, on turning King's evidence, but he attempted to effect his escape from this country, before the crew could be brought to trial, and was taken on board an American ship, in Guernsey Road, bound to America.

Several of the Lottery's crew are now in Newgate Prison, and will speedily be brought to trial for the offence. Toms will be sent to Exeter Goal, to remain there until he is removed to London, under a sufficient guard. Several of the crew, natives of Polperra, who are now at large, have been advertised, with a very particular description of their persons, and a reward of £200 each offered for apprehending them.

For Guernsey's 'special relationship' with the smugglers of Polperro, see the Library's Gleanings from the records of Zephaniah Job of Polperro, by Frank H. Perrycoste, 2007; J. R. Johns, Polperro's smuggling story, 1994,and The Smuggler's banker: the story of Zephaniah Job of Polperro, 2008; and Burlet, S., Portrait of Polperro.

Commons Sitting of Friday, April 5, 1805. House of Commons Hansard (45 George III)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer moved, that the house should resolve itself into a committee on the act of 24th of his present majesty, for the prevention of smuggling. He stated, that the practice of smuggling had increased to an alarming extent, and he had thought it his duty to submit to the house a bill to remedy so dangerous an evil. The material object he had in view was, to make articles of high duty in packages of certain sizes liable to seizure, if found on board any ship in the narrow seas. The distance within which they should be prohibited should not be less than 100 leagues from the English coast. We had clearly a right to make any provisions we pleased with regard to the navigation of our own seas by our own subjects, whatever exceptions might be necessary as to neutrals.

Another object of the bill referred to the hovering distance with respect to Guernsey and the other Islands in the Channel. It was notorious that smuggling from thence had been carried on to an enormous extent. The measure he meant to propose, in order to obviate it in future, was to prohibit packages below a certain size from being on board ships hovering off those places. Another plan was, that where ships came in with smuggled articles, the persons on board should be liable to some penalty, unless they were transferred with their own consent to the navy. He also wished to have it made as penal to resist naval officers, as it at present was to resist excise officers. Another object of the bill was to prevent spirits being sold below proof at the different ports where smuggled articles were usually disposed of. With this view he should empower the Lords of the Treasury to direct smuggled goods not to be sold at the ports, but to be consigned to their order, and disposed of under their control. He concluded by moving, 'that the Chairman should be directed to move for leave to bring in a bill to prevent the practice of smuggling.' [Columns 209-253, First Series, Vol. 4]

See A Bill (as amended on recommitment) to make more effectual provision for the prevention of smuggling, 1807, in the Library.