[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #3 1924]


(From an article by Mr. Henry Atton, in ' Chambers Journal,' December 19th, 1915, page 790.)


The records of the ports from Ayr to Port Glasgow and Greenock are kept in one series. Port Glasgow was the 'head port,' the collector at Greenock being merely a 'deputv.' In i749, the seizure was reported of a Manx wherry and thirty-two pounds in coin (the latter being- the proceeds of a run). This capture had been made by the Liverpool revenue cutter, which was cruising in Scottish waters. The following correspondence was found aboard the wherry:-

i. A smuggling insurance policy, effected at Peel, Isle of Man, 7th August, 1749. The goods (rum) had been insured for seventy-three pounds eighteen shillings and elevenpence, the voyage being described as from the Isle of Man to the Heads of Ayr 'not farther north than the Knocking Stone.' The rate of insurance was 10 per cent. 'We engage that this shall be as firm as any policy made at London, Bristol, or any other place.'

An advice of goods-' Sirs: We have sent you the above without your orders, and have charged you the lowest ready money price and Insurance, which we wish you safe,' etc.

3. A letter, dated 19th August, 1749, at Irvine, from one of the smugglers named Callin, to his partner Kelly. This stated that the vessel arrived at Culzean, after being chased by a cruiser, and that the goods were landed safely; but the writer found some difficulty in getting his money, and had to engage that the next consignment should be a gallon cheaper. The receivers insisted that it should be West Indian rum, New England being out of favour. Callin was told that rum could be bought at Antigua and Monserrat for two shillings and sixpence a gallon.

4. A letter from one Ewing, an Irvine receiver, dated 21st August, 1749, ordering more rum, and stating names of consignees. Let all the casks be strong,' etc.

5. A letter from Callin to his wife, at Peel-town, 19th August, 1749: ' Dear Hattie. Yesterday morning at 7 o'clock we landed at Culzean after a chase of 6 or 7 hours. I am pretty well, though I have been since left home. fatigued, night and day up, but hope now to get my regular rest,' etc.

The concluding paragraph in the article is: 'From the date of the union the Dumfries Letter Books display reports of extensive smuggling, principally from that ancient depot of contraband the Isle of Man, and of violent assaults upon Customs officers.'


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