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Contents of
Sussex Smugglers


1 Preface

pages 3-6

2 History of the Smugglers

A summary of the murders

pages 7-43

3 First day of the trial

pages 43-49

4 Second day of the trial

pages 49-108

5 Third day of the trial

pages 108-118

6 Appendix

by three clergymen who attended the condemned men

pages 118-132

7 Execution

pages 132-161

8 The second trial

Of Brown, the two Kemps, Fuller & Savage

pages 161-173

9 The third trial

of Diprose, Bartlett & others

pages 173-205

10 Sermon

On the evils of smuggling

pages 207-222

11 Smuggling in Sussex

From Sussex Archaeological Collections

pages 223-260

12 Gale Journal

pages 260-263






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12: Extracts from the Gale Journal

The following is taken from an interesting article, entitled, “Extracts from the Journal of Walter Gale, schoolmaster at May field “(“Sussex Archaeological Collections;’ 1857 1 pp. 194-5).

“‘10th March. Being disappointed of my Bourn journey, I set out for Laugh ton after drinking a quartern of gin, and came to Whitesmith’s, where was a hurley bolloo about Mr. Plummer’s (now a custom- house officer) having seized a horse loaded with three anchors of brandy, which was carried off by him and two soldiers, and afterwards stabled at Parish’s; John Willard and Win. Bran being there, followed and overtook them, and prevailed with them to go back. Parish took the seized horse and put it into Martin’s stable.’


“Two years only before this occurred, a special commission, at the head of which that great judge, Sir Michael Forster, presided, had been sent to Chichester to try seven smugglers for the murder of two custom- house officers under circumstances of atrocity too horrible to be related. They were convicted, and, with the exception of one who died the night before the execution, they were all executed and hanged in chains in different parts of Sussex. A company of foot guards and a troop of horse attended to prevent all chances of rescue, so thoroughly were the feelings of great numbers of the people enlisted on the side of the smugglers. Seven more were tried and convicted at the following assizes at East Grinstead for the barbarous murder of a poor fellow named Hawkins (who was suspected of giving information against them, and who was literally Hogged to death), and for highway robbery. Six of them were executed. Most of them belonged to the celebrated Hawkhurst gang, who were the terror of the counties of Kent and Sussex. Three more were tried at the Old Bailey for joining with sixty others in breaking open the custom-house at Poole, and taking away a quantity of tobacco which had been seized and deposited there. They were executed at Tyburn. The place called Whitesmith’s was celebrated for its nest of smugglers long after this time. It has been stated, by a person who took the office of overseer of a neighbouring parish about forty years ago, that one of the outstanding debts of the previous year was due to ----------- of Whitesmith, a well-known smuggler, for “two gallons of gin to be drunk at the vestry”!

“There were places of deposit for the smuggled goods, most ingeniously contrived, in various parts of Sussex. Among others, it is said, was the manorial pound at


Falmer, under which there was a cavern dug, which could hold 100 tubs of spirits; it was covered with planks, carefully strewed over with mould, and this remained undiscovered for years.

“In the churchyard at Patcham there is an inscription on a monument, now nearly illegible, to this effect:

Sacred to the Memory


Alas! swift flew the fatal lead,
Which pierced through the young man’s head.
He instant fell, resigned his breath,
And closed his languid eyes in death.
All you who do this stone draw near,
Oh! pray let fall the pitying tear.
From this sad instance may we all
Prepare to meet Jehovah’s call.

“The real story of his death is this. Daniel Scales was a desperate smuggler, and one night he, with many more, was coming from Brighton, heavily laden, when the excise officers and soldiers fell in with them. The smugglers fled in all directions; a riding-officer, as they were called, met this man, and called upon him to surrender his booty, which he refused to do. The officer, to use the words of the editor’s informant, a very respectable man and neighbour, who in -early life was much engaged in such transactions, knew that ‘he was too good a man for him, for they had tried it out before; so he shot Daniel through the head.’”



Extract from “Newspaper Cuttings relating to Sussex,” (Sussex Archaeological Collections,” 1872, pp 140, 141.)

“Smuggling was, as we have seen in many previous volumes of these “Collections,” a great snare and a grievous curse to Sussex. The following is from the ‘Daily Post’:–

“’London, September 19, 1721.

“’They write from Horsham, in Sussex, of the 13th instant, that Lieutenant Jekyll, of Brigadier-General Grove’s Regiment, with a part of Grenadiers, near Burwish (40 miles from that place) – [something omitted] – the chief Ringleader of the Owlers, nam’d Gib. Tompkin; and pursuing one Jervis, another noted Owler [1] , with several of his accomplices, came up with them; upon which Jervis fired his pistols, and retired with his men to a wood; whereupon some of the Grenadiers were ordered to fire likewise, but the Smugglers being very well mounted, got off, and Lieutenant Jekyll continued to pursue them all that day and night, and the next morning surrounded a lane at Nutly, where he took Robt. Sergeant, Wm. Blackman, Wm. Kemward, and Thomas Highsted, with five Horses, and all their Ropes and Running Tackle, [2] which he carry’d with him, and the Men were committed to Horsham Gaol.’”

[1]        “Owler,” a smuggler. See Halliwell in. voc.

[2]        To “run” meant, in Smuggler’s phrase, to land a cargo of contraband goods, and this “running tackle” was part of the Smugglers’ stock in trade.