[From Atholl Papers - AP X20(2nd)-2]

[Letter from Lt Gov Alex Shaw to Duke of Atholl, 12 April 1798]

My Lord Tho' as from our having but one packet, and that not well conducted nor the vessel reckon'd sufficient or properly found for the service, I know not when this may be forwarded, yet desireous your Grace should if possible be informed of every thing respecting the Gorvernment does or doing or saying in this Island. I sit down in hopes of a private opportunity for England just to say that having some reason to believe there were one or may be two strangers lurking among us - we have had of late a good deal of night hunting not only in this neighbourhood but also about Douglas and Ramsey and between them - hiterto without success as to persons tho' not so as to things

I had been informed by an intelligent sergeant that there were several packages of one kind or other in and about Port Erin, some of them, from his description not unlike arm-chests. It was possible indeed that arms intended for Ireland, and not able to be landed there, might, like many other articles of contraband - be slipt ashore among the caverns of Port Erin and along that shore (or even among the people ignorant and quite unsuspicious of the intents of such packages) untill opportunity should serve of carrying them to their destinations. Therefore, and not having the sodiers to appear in a search, other than as the aid and demanded by the revenue department, I hinted to letter my wish to have a thorough search in about Port Erin. I fear the search was not well conducted by the two poor old officers entrusted with it (by myself) but tho' there were no such packages as had been described found there were a tolerable plenty of keggs or barrels of wine and tobacco in rolls. Very properly, in my mind, (by order of Mr Wilson and Mr M Murrey who came here themselves on the occassion) these articles were seiz'd and in a boat seiz'd also sent, under a guard, to Douglas - this I cannot say, whether under our very defective laws as they are the seizure can or not be made good - but I believe that thus harrassing the rascals concerned in the traffick will go a great way to knock it up and by the blessing of God they shall not want that, as far as may be in my power to give it. But we never can put any effectual stop to smuggling inwards until there be an allowance given for the importation of a certain quantity each of gin and brandy. Much duty as will enable the fair trader to undercutt the smuggler. Geneva and brandy [mark] the chief articles of a smuggling [assortment], and precluded the sale of these he will scarce come on our coast for the chance of selling a part of the risk of such [assortment].

I am endeavouring by every means in my power to have your Grace's proclamation of last summer carried into strict effect, and as I love to do justice I think it right to inform your Grace that Mr Cosnahan of Douglas sensible now of even the absolute necessity of knowing who and what they are that come among us - is determined - in short to prove himself an active magistrate. Savage of Peel and Wilkes of Ramsey are indeed every thing they can be and with a hearty good will according to their several abilities. - But still I must wish to have our military establishment in some way augmented - tho' past every doubt they who have the ordering of that matter having with every information the whole system before them must be and are the best or only judges of what is then necessary or proper to be done every where. I have the honor to be with least respect

My Lord Your Grace's most obedient and faithful servant

Alex Shaw

Castle Rushen 12 April 1798.


 

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