Folkestone Smugglers?

A great deal of research was carried out by a distant cousin, Derek, who is a descendant also of the Hart Folkestone Fishing Family. (I think Derek’s Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather is my Great Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather’s brother!)

Apparently in 1816, Captain William McCulloch Royal Navy, of HMS Ganymede, proposed the creation of a Coast Blockade Service to bring under one command the anti-smuggling shore patrols, the in-shore water patrols and off-shore cruiser activity.

By 1820 the Service comprised 6,708 officers and men, including 2,375 men on 31 Royal Navy ships all under the command of Captain McCulloch. The usual punishment for smugglers was a sentence of 5 years in the Royal Navy as they were often excellent seamen. Certainly in May 1820, there is a report that, the excise cutter “Lively” caught eleven Folkestone and Sandgate smugglers on a run out of Boulogne, and had them locked up in Dover jail to await transfer to a Naval ship to serve their 5 year sentence.

It appears that the prisoners’ friends and families raised a large mob which quickly broke down the door of the jail. When it was discovered that the captured smugglers had been moved to the most secure cells, the mob seemingly began literally to pull the jail apart, pelting the troops in attendance that had by now been called in from Dover Castle. The Mayor of Dover twice read the Riot Act, but he was completely ignored.

The smugglers and several other prisoners were released, and made good their escape in post-chaises – hired horse-drawn carriages, but stopped at a blacksmith’s shop near the Red Cow inn just outside Dover to have the
conspicuous and unwieldy chains removed from their hands before being deposited at the foot of the steps leading to the Narrows (near the site of St. Michael’s Church) in Folkestone. Meanwhile, back in Dover, the mob continued to rampage through the town, smashing windows, forcing traders to close and barricade their shops and damaging the jail beyond

The incident was widely featured in not only the Dover press, but the Times in London as well. An advertisement was published in the press on 6th June 1820:

“Whereas on Friday last, 26 th May, a very numerous, lawless and desperate gang of smugglers, disguised in round frocks as countrymen and armed with bludgeons and many of them with concealed fire-arms, assembled round His Majesty’s jail at Dover, and having provided themselves with pick-axes, crowbars and other implements, proceeded to break and enter the said jail and released therefrom Richard Hart, Stephen Warman, John Stubbles, John Marshall, William West, Richard Grayland, Amos Cullen, William Fox, James Minter, Frances Roberts and Thomas Minter, eleven smugglers, all natives or inhabitants of Folkestone, who were confined in the said jail:-
Whoever will give information to Sir Thomas Mantell, Mayor of Dover, so that anyone or more of the person or persons guilty of the said daring outrage and felony may be brought to justice, shall receive a reward of One Hundred Pounds, and whoever will apprehend and bring to His Majesty’s jail at Dover any one of the Eleven Smugglers thus lawlessly released, shall receive a reward of Fifty Pounds for every smuggler so apprehended and brought to jail.
By order of the Mayor and Justices.
Town Clerk”

The 11 arrested men were:

  1. Stephen Warman
  2. John Stubbles
  3. John Marshall
  4. William West
  5. Richard Grayland
  6. Amos Cullen **
  7. William Fox
  8. James Minter
  9. Frances Roberts
  10. Thomas Minter
  11. Richard Hart #

# I believe this is the brother of John Hart in Harfin’s family tree

** Caroline Puttee Cullen may be related to Amos (Caroline became the wife of Thomas Hart born 1796.)

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