GMS News 96 November 2016

Last Month’s Meeting

October_meeting_startAfter some consternation about setting up the projector Brian Laverick-Smith went home to collect his projector. 
Mike Burrows then commenced his talk on smuggling in Kent.



DSC01906 DSC01911After another projector malfunction Mike continued stoically without visual aids. He told the assembly about the methods used by the smugglers and measures taken to thwart them. He explained how entrenched smuggling was in the economy of the county and how it involved society at all levels. He concluded by recounting a number of stories such as the exploits of the Hawkhurst Gang, which started in Kent, but whose activities ranged as far as Dorset. The gang showed a high degree of organisation but committed brutal acts of assault and murder: quite like theMafia of today.


Local Smuggling Stories

In 1937 an article was printed in the Times recounting the discovery of hidden smugglers’ hoards, including a cache of silk found “lately in Great Mongeham”. The writer assumes that it was left by “some very gentlemanly smugglers in payment for some horses which they had taken without asking”. It was more likely that the house belonged to a smuggler or an accomplice.

Its proximity to Deal meant that Great Mongeham was inevitably caught up in the smuggling which was a major industry in Deal for several centuries. Until 1901 the parish of Great Mongeham extended as far south as Mayers Road and included Walmer Station. Mayers Road was home to men who found a precarious living by fishing. In years when fishing was poor, as in the years between 1829 and 1833 they depended on parish relief as recorded in the parish Poor Book. In fact in 1830 the parish paid for passages to America for the families of William Parker and James Campbell. With such a precarious living to be gained from the sea it is little wonder that so many boatmen took recourse to smuggling.

In 1593 several ships ran aground on the Goodwin sands. The crew and cargo of one ship was rescued by a Deal boat whose crew expected fair recompense from the ship’s owners. When it was not forthcoming they distributed much of the cargo to surrounding villages. “One William Butteres, of Mongeham, deposed to carrying 3 cakes of wax and half a dozen kettles from Henry Clement’s house to a Mrs Crayford”.

Although this was not smuggling in the strictest sense, a more dramatic event can be found in the parish records of Sholden church where William Thompson was buried in 1807. He was exhumed a week later on the order of the coroner. It was revealed that William had died “of a wound received by a musquet ball”. The vicar adds a postscript that Wiliam was probably in a boat having contraband goods and  was “shot in resisting the crew of a Man of War’s boat. One man was killed and two were wounded belonging to the King’s boat”.  

November Meeting—the AGM

Some people have suggested that it might be a good idea to get to know each other a little better, so when the business of the AGM is concluded we will have a session of “This is me”. Those of us happy to take part put their names in a “hat” at the beginning of the meeting. After the AGM names will be drawn, and the person drawn says a little bit about themselves. It might be career, hobbies, family, anything which might start a conversation. There will be a time limit! Afterwards there will be the customary wine and cheese and biscuits. 

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