by "A Gentleman of Chichester"
The book that’s now called simply “Sussex Smugglers” was first published in 1749, soon after the trial of the murderers of William Galley, an ageing customs official, and Daniel Chater, a shoemaker. The book describes the killings in relentless and sometimes sickening detail. The grisly engravings of the men’s last moments would have impressed even the illiterate.
Sussex Smugglers originally had a very much longer title (see below), and was not actually a book at all: the first edition was published in parts. In subsequent editions the parts were bound together to make a book.
Sussex Smugglers was sensational stuff. It was reprinted four times in 1749 alone. It has appeared in full and abridged forms at least five times since then. Some editions are not dated, so the exact number of printings is hard to establish.
Who was the author?
The book was published anonymously, attributing the text simply to “A Gentleman of Chichester.” Who was this? All the evidence points to the Charles Lennox, the Duke of Richmond (1701-1759). Lennox was a fervent anti-Jacobite, and opposed smugglers partly because they assisted the Jacobite cause. Lennox led a crusade against smuggling, and it was largely through his efforts that the murderers of Galley and Chater were caught and prosecuted. Why wouldn’t he use his real name? In his essay Sussex Smugglers, published in Albion’s Fatal Tree, Crime and society in Eighteenth-Century England (Allen Lane 1975) Cal Winslow reports that Henry Simon wrote the following letter to Lennox on May 1st 1749:
'In obedience to Your Graces commands of yesterday, I have sent with this the draught of the trial. In three or four days after I last waited upon Your Grace at Whitehall, Sir Thomas Denison sent back the draught to me by his clerk Mr. Fenton with the obliterations and alterations which you find therein. And with his positive orders that no mention should be made, or the least intimation should be given, that he had perused it, or that the draught had been under his examination. This was a sufficient declaration to me, that the judge of the Assize did not then think proper to license the publication, and if it had been published by order of the Commissioners of His Majesty's Customs only, I had good reason to know that in Westminster Hall this would have been thought an irregular and improper proceeding. The circumstances therefore were too nice for me to proceed one step further during Your Grace's absence.’ (West Sussex Records Office, mss, 155/H 128.)
Thomas Denison (1699-1765) was a justice of the king's bench bar, and one of Britain's leading judges.
This text is based on the version available at The
Internet Archive: you can find the original by clicking
here. I have converted all of the footnotes to consecutively-numbered
endnotes. In the text that follows, clicking an endnote reference number
jumps to the appropriate note at the end of the chapter; to return to
your place in the text, click the number to the left of the endnote.
(Click the page image below right to enlarge)
Smuggling & Smugglers in Sussex
The Genuine History
Illustrated with Seven Plates, Descriptive of the Barbarous Cruelties.
Trials of John Mills and Henry Sheerman; with an account of the wicked lives of the said Henry Sheerman, Lawrence and Thomas Kemp, Robert Fuller and Jockey Brown; and the Trials at large of Thomas Kingsmill and other Smugglers for Breaking open the Custom House at Poole; with the Sermon preached in the Cathedral Church of Chichester, at a Special Assize held there, by Bp. Ashburnham; also an Article on “Smuggling in Sussex,”” by William Durrant Cooper, Esq., F.S.A. (Reprinted from Vol. X. of the “Sussex Archaeological Collections”), and other Papers.
W. J. SMITH, 41-43 NORTH STREET, BRIGHTON.