[From Atholl Papers - AP 40B-7]

[Reply from Whitehaven re smuggling from Isle of Man, 1764]

Honble Sirs

In due obedience to your Honours order of the 18th May last to report upon the state of smugling betwixt the Isle of Man and Great Britain, to procure as exact account as possible of the several kinds of goods imported into the said Island, and the duties payable to the Proprietor, I humbly observe that the foreign goods landed there are in general those which pay high duties here , and are lodged for no other design but afterwards to smugle them upon the coasts of these kingdoms.

From France they import great quantities of brandy and wine.

From Spain also brandy, various sorts of wines, silks, velvets, succus liquoritae and species of goods.

From Sweden they import vast quantities of tea, China and other East India goods, but chiefly the former which at present is the principal object of smugling.

From Holland, Hamburgh, and the Netherlands, wines, refined sugar, cambricks, lawns, and great quantities of tobacco, which has been exported from great Brittain, and the drawback received upon it. Great quantities of this article are also landed in the Isle of Man immediately from ships cleared out from great Brittain for Holland and other foreign parts.

From the Brittish Plantations in the West Indies great quantities of rum and coffee, and from great Brittain immediately to the Isle of Man are exported great quantities of East India silks and other manufactures prohibited to be worn here, which are bought for importation at the India sales and afterwards sent immediately to that Island where they are lodged only for the convenience of again landing them privately in Great Brittain. This last fraud has greatly increased of late so much that I have certain intelligence of one person only who trades not less than 10,000 annually in that article.

The duties payable to the Duke of Athol upon the several species of goods beforementioned are vizt brandy, rum and spirits of all sorts one penny @ galln wine five shillings @ tun, for natives; and ten shillings for foreigners.
Tobacco, a half penny @ pound.
Tea, East India goods &c 2@cent ad valorum and all manner of goods from great Brittain as provisions, woollen goods, and other manufactures for the consumption of the natives, except caols, which pay one penny @ tom 2@cent. I have in my custody a book of rates made use of when the Island was in the possession of the late Earl of Derby but so many alterations have been made in it since it came to the present proprietor, as I am told - therefore have not sent a copy of it, as I hope soon to procure one of those now made use of.

The Duke of Athol's revenue from the most exact estimate, I can collect, and which I have reason to believe is near the truth, amounts to a clear income of about 7500 @ann vizt

To the amounts of Lords rents, fines certain payable in ther death of tenants, alienation of estates, and other fines of forfeitures comunibus annis

1500 0 0

To the amount of duties paid for importation of goods for the consumption of the inhabitants of the said Island is coals, salt, provisions of all kinds manufactures etc

500 0 0

To the duties on foreign goods imported there and lodged solely for the intention of smugling

6500 0 0


8500 0 0

The charges of the civil list for a governor, soldiers and other expences about

1,000 0 0

The clear nett revenue therefore is

7500 0 0

NB The Duke had a larger income from his private estate which I believe amounted to 17 or 1800@ ann but by the sale of the Impropriate Tythes within a few years past, this is now reduced to about 1500 the sum mentioned.

The procuring exact accounts of the quantities of each species of foreign goods landed in the Isle of Man for some years past will I fear now be attended with some difficulty, as it is known there by some means the enquiries your Honours are making - I am not without hopes of yet procuring an exact account, but a judgement may be formed from the great increase of the duties upon those articles, which within the last thirty years have rose from 1000 to upwards of 6500 @ ann: and even that sum much less than the proprietor is entitled to, for in the single instance of tea which pays 2 @ cent ad valorum, I am told he is greatly defrauded, as the high priced as well as the common teas are passed at the same rate; & tis very probable he suffers in proportion in other articles. The Isle of Man from its natural situation lies so convenient for smugling, it will be almost impossible to make any laws so effectual as entirely to put a stop to it; there are four principal ports vizt Douglas, Derbyhaven, Ramsey & Piel [sic Peel] Town; from the two first, the coasts pof Cornwall, Wales, Cheshire & Lancashire are supply'd ; from Ramsey the coast of Cumberland & the coasts of Scotland along the Solway Firth which has been for some years past very great & from Piel Town the Highlands & West of Scotland and the North of Ireland.

I have seen estimates which makes the loss to the revenue 300,000 @ ann but that includes Ireland but supposing it 200,000, which I am well convinced and can produce undeniable vouchers is within the truth, the object is certainly very worthy the consideration of the legislator, the smugling from the Isle of Man, to Ireland I am told had of late greatly decreased owing to some salutary laws lately passed by the Irish parliament which with due submission, I humbly conceive might afford some useful hints to a Brittish House of Commons.

[edge of page missing]

My reason for the observation that whilst the Isle of Man continues in the state it now is it will be almost impossible to make any laws & so effectual as entirely to suppress smugling isowing to the very artful manner in which the frauds are carried on which makes it very difficult to prosecute several legal sizures effectually to condemnation, as for instance there is not a wherry or boat which takes on board in the Isle of Man a cargo of high duty or prohibited goods to be run upon the coasts of Great Brittain, but clears out coastways from one port of the Island to another, the reason of which is very obvious that if met with as frequently happens by a cruizer any ways without the limits of a Brittish port, they alledge they are blown off the Manx coast by stress of weather & produce their coast clearance this is a fact well known to myself, & can produce many of such dispatches taken from the masters of boats after seizure in short not one vessel sails without them.

Another fraud & not very inconsiderable is that of landing tobacco & other goods shipped in Great Brittain for foreign parts, & for which the drawbacks are paid, which are afterwards again relanded on the coasts of these kingdoms.

I have also great reason to believe quantities of wool are carry'd off by the wherries & boats, after they have run their cargoes in great Brittain, to the Isle of Man, where it is lodged till an opportunity offers of carrying it to France by the vessels which have landed their cargoes of brandy, tea &c there.

I have not mentioned the vast sums of ready money which are carryed off by this iniquitous trade, the bad consequence it is in destroying the morals of the people, the discouragemennt to agriculture & manufactures, & many other fatal effects which will occur to your Honours & dont doubt have been enumerated by much abler persons

I am

Your honour's most obt & most hble srvt

Chas Lutwidge

London 7th July 1764

PS I have by me a list of wherrys & boats which have landed cargoes from the Isle of Man on the Scotch side of the Solway firth opposite to Cumberland, & two thirds of the goods afterwards run into England, for five years past, but unluckily in the hurry I came away have forgot to bring it up.


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004