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King's Cutters and Smugglers 1700-1855 Paperback – July 12, 2010
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An interesting account of Great Britain's Customs Board cutters which were used to enforce the customs laws and thus try to ensure that all customs duties were paid. Custom duties were a significant part of the revenue for the country, and thus a great deal of effort went into stopping smuggling. Needless to say, given the comparatively high duties on things like alcoholic drinks, silk, laces etc., there was an incentive to smuggle them into Great Britain and thus avoid the custom duty cost. Smugglers could make a great deal of money, as long as they did not get caught. If they got caught, they could go to prison, or be transported, perhaps for 7 years.
In the early part of this book (first part of the 1700s), Great Britain did not allow raw wool to be taken out of the country. Great Britain wanted to employ people in Great Britain to make finished cloth which would then be exported. Thus there was an incentive to smuggle raw wool out of Great Britain, as there was a demand for the wool on the continent among the weavers in the countries. Overall, the biggest problems were smuggling high tariff items into the country.
Limited data is available in the records regarding the ships employed, and their manning, size and tonnage etc.. Within the available limited data, which covers some years, the different Custom Service ships and their tonnage, manning and armament as well as commanders are covered. There are numerous stories of encounters with smugglers. Some of the encounters between the smugglers and the Customs Officials in the early years were quite violent. The smugglers used brute force to beat up the customs men both on land and at sea.Read more ›