[From Atholl Papers - AP 40B-16]
May it please your Lordships
In obedience to your Lordships commands signified by Mr Whately's letter of the 11th day of May last, we have made strict enquiry into the smuggling trade carried on between the Isle of Man and this Kingdom. The result whereof we are now to report to your Lordships.
It is un-necessary to describe to your Lordships the situation of the Isle of Man, futher than to observe that it is near enough to this Kingdom to answer all the smugglers purposes, enabling them to keep up a constant and speedy intelligence, allowing them by the shortness of the passage to execute their schemes at the precise times which their associates have to apprize them of, and to take all advantages of wind and weather.
This situation, and the circumstances of the Government of the Isle of Man, afford a refuge to bankrupts, fugitives from this Kingdom, who resort there in such numbers as to make a considerable part of the inhabitants of the Island. Many of these men have established a correspondence here, who having been in trade and knowing exactly the extent of the Irish Laws, are prepared to manage their contraband traffic with advantage, and frequently to baffle the endeavours of the Revenue Officers appointed to guard the coast of this Kingdom.
The contraband trade from the Isle of Man is carried on almost entirely by Wherries built at Rush, a fishing town within sixteen miles of this city; they are prime sailors, and several of them have at late been purchased by the Isle of man smugglers for the purpose of running goods on the coast of Scotland. Within a few years they have increased the dimensions of their wherries, that although they are quite open boats, they have sailed round the north coast, and have landed their cargoes in the most western parts of this Kingdom.
All possible care hath been taken here to destroy this pernicious trade, as far as the power of the legislature of this Kingdom can extend. No boat can sail to the Isle of man from the coast between Wexford and Londonderry without first taking out a permit, by which means notice is given of the sailing of each smuggling wherry. All vessels with exciseable goods from that Island belonging to any port or person residing in this Kingdom are forfeited with their cargoes, if discovered to be within three leagues of the Irish shore ; And all contracts with the Isle of man for exciseable goods are declared void. as occasion pointed out we have tried variety of expedients; We have as far as prudence allows, gone to a great expence in establishing cruizing barges at sea, and guards upon the shores, which have been of considerable service, and although they have not put a stop to the smuggling from that Island, yet they have checked it considerably, and prevented an encrease of it.
We are satisfied that the revenues of this Kingdom do suffer very considerably by the smuggling from the Isle of man, but to what amount it is impossible for us to ascertain. The value of the goods from thence. seized on this coast, generally amounts one year with another to about ten thousand pounds.
Another branch of the smuggling trade is by vessels from the coast of Cumberland and Lancashire touching at the Isle of man. This is carried on for the most part by the Whitehaven colliers, and consists chiefly in small adventures bought by the sailors; But as good care is taken to rummage the vessels, and to punish the offenders we believe the damage which the Crown sustains in this instance is inconsiderable.
We do not find that the practice of carrying debentured goods to the Isle of Man hat yet been set on foot in this Kingdom.
The goods imported into the Isle of Man in the greatest quantities, are coarse teas from Holland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway; brandy, wine and tobacco from France, rum from the West Indies; and debentured tobacco from Great Britain. Beside these, are imported there in smaller quantities, China silk, arrack and other East India goods, coffee, geneva and juniper berries. The Liverpool merchants also import from Holland to the Isle of Man and lodge in stores which they have provided there, gunpowder, fire arms, toys, and East India goods for their African trade.
This is the result of the best enquiries we have been able to make, which we humbly submit to your Lordships consideration, and are with the greatest respect
Your Lordship's most obedient and most humble servants
Custom House Dublin 20th October 1764