1794 – The final act?

While Charles was languishing in prison, during the first week in February, 1794, a wreck occurred in Prussia’s Cove, that demanded the attention of the Penzance Customs Officers. All round the coast of the British Isles, Customs Officers were expected to attend at wreck sites, to ensure the salvaged cargo paid duty, and in some measure to prevent ‘wrecking’ – the unauthorised spiriting away of salvaged goods and materials. The wreck is not named in the correspondence, when the latest incident was reported to head-office.

Custom House Penzance, 10th February, 1794.

Honble Sirs, Inclosed We beg leave to lay before your Hble Board a representation made to us this day by Mefs.rs Nichols Deputy Comptroller and several of the Officers belonging to this port respecting a transaction that lately happened at Prufsias Cove within this port, We likewise humbly represent to your Honors that the Battery therein mentioned has been for many years the terror of the Officers of the Revenue, and it is most sincerely wished that it could be effectually destroyed, the whole of which is with the greatest deference most humbly Submitted for your Honors Consideration & directions.

We are &c. JS, JN

National Archives CUST 68/16, 12/1794 & enclosure

Penzance 10th Feb:y 1794.

Gentlemen, We the undersigned Officers belonging to the Port of Penzance, beg leave to lay before you for the information of the Honble the Commifsioners of His Majesty’s Customs the following Facts, on Thursday the 6th Instant Information was given us that a Vefsel lay wrecked 1 at a Cove within this port called Prufsias Cove, from the situation of the place we conceived it impossible to render any afsistance without Military Force, no other Military force being near us than a Volunteer Company formed of the Inhabitants of the said Town of Penzance, under sanction of His Majesty’s Commifsioner for the defence of the said Town and its neighbourhood, We called on them for their afsistance when a Detachment of the said men consisting of 30 Rank & file with the greatest alacrity – afsembled under the Command of Lieutenant Batten & Ensign Scobell two of the officers belonging to the said Company and marched with us. 

When we arrived near the ground several persons under the command and direction of John Carter a most notorious Smuggler afsembled in a Battery of about 6 or 8 Guns, 4 pounders were errected near the house of the said John Carter & repeatedly fird shot from the said Guns at the said Volunteer Company and ourselves. The said Volunteer Company then rushed into the said Battery & carried the same by afsault. On trying what Guns remained undischarged in the said Battery they were found loaded with Shot with lited Matches lying near them. We then discov.d that the Vefsel which was wrecked was a Smuggler belonging to the said John Carter and his adherents, as the said John Carter repeatedly acknowledged and also that the Battery and Guns therein were his property.

The Guns were immediately dismounted which when the said Jn:o Carter perceived he asked who had ordered his Guns to be dismounted and carriages broke, & being answered by Ensign Scobell that he had commanded the Guns to be destroyed, he then said you have no bufsinefs on my property and I will trouble you for the orders you have given by destroying my Guns &c.

We then preceded with a Division of the said Volunteers to the beach to make Seizure and take pofsefsion of such part of the said Cargo as we were enabled in which we were frequently obstructed by several persons by being pelted with Stones &c. in so much that the Military were compelled frequently to fire in their own & our defence, in one of which discharges either from the Military or the Smugglers from adjoining Windows, one of our own officers was wounded in a desperate manner, Viz: Thomas Rowe a Tidewaiter & Boatman, by being shot through the Cheek and who still lies dangerously ill.

We should have stated to you that on the first party of the said Military under Ensign Scobell arriving on the said ground one John Turner of the Town of Marazion Surgeon came into the rear of the said Division, and obstructed us by endeavouring to seduce and draw aside the said Men from our afsistance and for some time prevented our proceedings, untill the Officers of the said Division again got his Men in order. He was likewise throughout the whole Businefs most Active in his afsistance to the said Smugglers and appeared most particularly concerned and connected with the said Carter & Co. in the said Cargo indeed our suspicions of his is still stronger as he the said Turner pafsed us at full Speed at about 3 Miles distance from the wreck, and was as we apprehend one of the first persons who gave information of our approach with a Military Force and consequently prepared and instigated the said Smugglers to man the Battery, indeed his behavior was throughout the whole most shamefull by aiding the Smugglers in the Battery at our Retreat and encouraging them to Acts of Violence.

We beg to state to you two of the persons who were in the said Battery besides the said John Carter who acts as Commander were two Men perfectly well known to us, Viz. Thomas Bawden and James Green that the said Thomas Bowden did actually prime, and the said James Green discharge one of the said Guns from the said Battery, at the said Volunteers and ourselves and when driven from the said Battery they proceeded immediately to the said Beach when they endeavour’d and did stave every anker so full of spirits which came in their way.

We further beg leave to state that we kept Pofsefsion of the said Battery till towards night, and endeavoured by every means in our power to procure Carts & other Conveyances for carrying off the said Liquor but found it impofsible and hearing from certain information that there were secreted in the dwelling House, outhouses &c belonging to the said Carter upwards of 500 Men well armed, We thought it adviseable to Load such Horses as we then had with us destroy as far as pofsible what remained, and make our retreat before night.

The number of ankers we brought off are 13. Viz. 8 of Brandy, and 5 of Geneva. That the Cargo of the said Vefsel laying in great Quantities on every part of the Beach & consisted of Foreign unduty paid Brandy, Rum, Geneva, Tea, Tobacco & Snuff. We beg leave also to suggest to you that a full representation of these acts being laid before the Honble Commifsioners may be a means of ordering this most daring Battery to be destroyed as otherwise it will [be] impofsible to go on Duty near this spot.

We are &c. Jos.h Nichols, Jn.o Julyan, S Slade, W Watts, W Richards2

The Board ordered arrest warrants to be served, and sworn affidavits to be drawn up.

Gentle.n , The Commissioners having read your Letter of the 10th Instant with the representation therewith transmitted respecting a transaction that lately happened at Prussias Cove within the limits of your Port, They direct you to cause information of the facts contained in this representation to be immediately laid before a Majistrate of the County in order to his issuing Warrants to apprehend John Carter Thomas Bawden & James Green and any other persons who were known and concerned in the fireing taking care to employ a sufficient force to execute such warrants and when so done the offenders to be carried before the Majistrate in order to his committing them for Trial at the next assizes either upon the 19 Geo: 2 Ch: 34 Sect:1: or the 24th Geo: 3 Ch: 47 Sect 11 and transmit Copies of the Depositions & Commitments without delay.

With regard to M:r John Turner the Circumstances respecting him as stated appear scarcely to amount to an Obstruction and therefore you are to cause a more particular statement of every thing that was done by him to prevent the Officers or any of their party from proceeding in the execution of their duty to be sworn upon a treble Six penny stamp Paper before a Commissioners of the Court of Kings Bench & transmit the same hither for the Boards further consideration ~

And the Board direct you to express their approbation of the Conduct of such of the party as are Officers of this Revenue & also the thanks of the Board to Lieu.t Batten Ensign Scobell & the rest of the party.

I am Gentl.n &c J Hume
Custom House London, 15th Feb:ry 1794

National Archives CUST 68/47, 9/1794

The arrest warrants were drawn up, but the constables for the ‘hundred’ concerned appear to have been very reluctant to face up to John Carter, and the Penzance Officers felt they did not have sufficient force to serve the warrants.

Custom House Penzance, 1st March, 1794.

Honble Sirs, In obedience to your Honble orders signified to us by Mr. Hume in his Letter of the 15. Feb.y last N.o 9. We caused information of the Facts contained in the representation to be immediately laid before two Magistrates of the County in order to their ifsuing Warrants to apprehend John Carter, Thomas Bawden, & James Green, and any others persons who were known and concerned in the firing of the Guns at Prussias Cove the Warrants as soon as ifsued were delivered to two of the hundred Constables, which they have not as yet been able to execute, the force we have, not being sufficient to execute such Warrants, at a place so very dangerous. the Commanding Officer of the Troops stationed at Helston having refused the Constables to move his Men, except an order was received from the War Office for so doing. inclosed We beg leave to send your Honors Copies of the different Depositions taken before the Magistrates.

With regard to Mr. Turner a more particular Statement about every thing that was done by him to prevent the Officers or any of their party from proceeding in the Execution of their duty shall be sworn upon a treble six penny Stam.d paper, before a Commifsioner of the Court of Kings Bench & transmitted your Honors by next Monday’s post. We have likewise exprefsed your Honors approbation of the conduct of such of the party as are Officers of this Revenue & also the thanks of the Board to Lieutenant Batten Ensign Scobell, & the rest of the party. –

We are &c. S.

National Archives CUST 68/16, No 19/1794

The following day the Penzance Officers added:

Custom House Penzance, 2nd March, 1794.

Honble Sirs, Inclosed We beg leave to transmit your Honble Board an affidavit of William Leggo, a Tidewaiter & Boatman in this port, respecting the transaction that lately happened at Prussias Cove, within this port, which was omitted to be sent with our Letter of yesterday. also a Letter which we received this Morning from Edward Giddy Clerk, transmitting us a Copy of one which was yesterday sent by himself, and Davies Giddy Esq.r to the Right Honble Henry Dundas Esq.r respecting the same transaction, & Stating that John Carter wo.d Surrender himself to take his Trials at our next afsizes, which are fixed for the 22nd Instant. – the both hundred Constables refused going to the Cove except protected by a Military party and we are verily of opinion that [if] the Officers of this Revenue attempted to have gone down not one of them would have ret.d back Safe, the Smugglers &c. being now so much enraged against them.

We are &c. S, N.

National Archives CUST 68/16, No 20/1794

Unfortunately there is no copy of Leggo’s affidavit, or of Edward Giddy’s current letter to Henry Dundas – not forgetting his previous letter to Dundas back in 1792.

Tredrea 1st March, 1794.

Sir, I think it right to inform you that the examinations were this day sent to Mr. Dundas accompanied with the following, Viz.t

We E. G. [Edward Giddy], Clerk, and D. G. [Davis Giddy], Esq.r two of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the County of Cornwall, hereby certify that ye 7. Examinations annexed were duly taken before us & that in consequence of those which were taken on the 20th we ifsued our W.t for apprehending John Carter, Tho.s Bawden & James Green. We beg leave to Submit to you whether Edward Bawden named in the Exam:n of W.m Leggo comes within the charge of Maliciously Shooting “as no proof appears of his having been in the Battery. Given under out hands and Seals at Tredrea the 28th Feb.y 1794.

To the Right Honble Henry Dundas Esq.r one of His Majesty’s Principle Sec. of State.

P.S. I think it right Sir to State some circumstances which occurred in the absence of M.r D. G. [Davis Giddy] on the 22nd, the High Constables informed me that being apprehensive of Resistance & great danger in attempting to execute our Warrant, he applied to the Commanding Officer of the Troops at Helston for afsistance, & received for answer that he did not conceive himself at liberty to send any of his Men with him untill he had attempted to execute the W.t & met with forcible Resistance.

I advised him to wait on the C.r of the Customs at Penzance on the 24. and answer he brought to me in consequence of this application was “that the Officers were Sure they could not afsist him without emenient danger of their lives.   whether there is real Foundation for this apprehension of danger, I cant pretend to determine, but the Idea of it has hitherto prevented the execution of our W.ts  

An application was yesterday made to us both by an Att.y in behalf of J. Carter who offered Bail for his appearance at the next afsizes & afserted that if the Offence was not bailable he would Surrender at that time to this we could give no answer.  

The C.r will make what use he pleases of this and advice in consequence when he hears from the Com.rs what is to be done in the cause of Edw.r Bawden.

With respect, Edw.d Giddy.

National Archives WO 4/151 (f382)

To date no copies of the accompanying seven examinations have come to light.

However, a month later Giddy wrote a rambling epistle on the general subject of smuggling to William Pitt – which has survived. –

Sir, It is with the Sincerest pleasure that, I congratulate you on the Success of some of your plans for preventing frauds respecting the revenue. That wch was pointed at the Distilleries about 84 had a wonderful Effect. One Gentn at Bristol (where I then resided) who was Supposed to gain an enormous Sum (it was Said 14000 a year) by his ingenious Contrivance of his pipes, found all his Skill compleately defeated. – Another which subjected Wine to ye Excise was no less efficacious.

A famous Smuggler of Penzance frequently landed a whole Cargo of it during the night, & Safely lodgd the whole at a distance from the Sea. That very lucrative Scheme is entirely demolished. –

I fear very great Frauds, still continue with respect to Salt. Tis certain that in ye last mentioned Town a person died lately Worth above £30,000, who Sat out without any Capital, & tis generally thought, acquired at least 2/3 of his Fortune by smuggling Salt. Tis very probable that there are many others in this Town & its Vicinity who in a Smaller degree have reaped the Fruit of that iniquitous Traffic.3

What can be done to prevent it? In the Instance of the distilleries the Idea of the Forfeiture of all the expensive Apparatus with the building had a powerful Effect.

In that of the Salt I fear the Prospect of escaping, in case of detection, with a moderate Fine affords a flattering Encouragement. When the Gain is 20 times perhaps greater than the Fine the Temptation to the Risque is almost irresistable. But is this the Case? Are not the Laws Sufficiently Severe? Perhaps they are. But are there not flattering Prospects of tempering that Severity by Mitigations & Compositions? & are not these too Common? I was lead to this Subject by Seeing in the papers that Something was to be done concerning this Article.

The Smuggling Bill induces me to trouble you with Some local observations. After all the wise precautions w:ch have been taken tis astonishing to observe at what Height this pernicious practice continues in this part of the Country. Having twice sent Affidavits to the Secretary of State concerning a famous smuggling place, call’d Prussia Cove, protected by a Battery Against any Intrusion of the officers of the Customs or Excise, I might, perhaps, without offence venture to say that all precautions which might be suggested have not been used.

A few years since a grand Example of the just Severity of Government Against officers who betrayd their Trust was given at Penzance & in its Vicinity by the discharge of most of them. Unfortunately the Intent of the Example was thought to be perhaps almost defeated by the Superior One being restored. 4 He is, I understand, generally esteem’d An honest man: but Vigilance & Activity did not, I apprehend, seem to the Inspectors to form part of his Character. It would hurt me exceedingly if this Representation shd in the smallest degree tend to injure him. I wish by all means to avert that Consequence, but Cannot help recommending a frequent Inspection.

What Apology can I make for the Liberty of giving you this Trouble? When I consider the Situation, Character, & Abilities of the person to whom I venture to address myself I wonder at my presumption. But in Such a time as the present may not a person presume on being pardon’d by a truly intelligent & patriotic Minister for offering in a decent inoffensive manner any hint wch he conceives wd tend to improve the Revenue? Is it not a Sort of Duty which One Owes to the Community to point out to those who are in Power abuses which, without Such Information, they could not be acquainted with: Is it not natural for those who feel the Weight of increasing necessary taxes to be uneasy at Seeing triumphant Frauds rendering that Increase necessary? As it is impossible for you Sir, to know any thing of the real Sentiments & Character of an Individual in a distant part of the Kingdom So obscure as I happen to be, it may not be improper to add, that should Any thing in this paper engage your Attention, I beg leave to refer to the Members for the County, or any other Gentleman of Cornwall who were not in opposition at the last Election. From some of that description I should not expect more Tenderness with respect to my Character, than they shew’d towards my property by burdening with the expensive office of Sheriff my Son, to whom I had given up parts of a Small Fortune, a very young Man; engaged with most unwearied Attention in the pursuit of learning at Oxford, who was most reluctantly drawn from a Course of Mathematical Studies, in the profoundest part of which he was making a great Proficiency. This was Our Reward for doing Our Duty.

I sincerely beg your Pardon for troubling you with what relates to myself & Family, and hope you will permit me to assure you that I am, with the greatest Respect & the highest Esteem, Sir, your most obedient and most humble Servant

Edw: Giddy (Clerk) J. P.
Tredrea 4th April 1794

P.S. I fear I may have given my thoughts too freely on the Case of Prussia Cove, For may there not be, At this time, some prudential Reasons for not removing this Nusance Or some difficulties attending it of which I cannot pretend to Judge?

National Archives PRO 30/8/131, Chatham Papers – minor correspondence from Peers, Officers and various persons

In this post script we have a tantalising allusion to possibility that the Carters of Prussia’s Cove enjoyed some protection from those in authority – one of the enduring legends about the family explaining their charmed, almost prosecution free, existence.

Meanwhile the Helston officers’ request for military assistance passed through channels – days after the event.

W.O. 5 March 1794.

My Lord, M.r Secretary Dundas having transmitted to this Office the enclosed Extract of a Letter which He has received from a Magistrate in the Neighbourhood of Helstone; by which it appears that the Civil Power is unable to execute certain Procefses of the Law ifsued against some daring Offenders without MilitaryAfsistance; I have the honor, in the absence of Sir Geo.g Younge, to send your Lordship (together with the said Extract) an order for the Troops at Helstone &.ca to afsist the Civil Magistrates & Officers of the Revenue, upon their respective requisitions; & I request your Lordship to ifsue the Necefsary directions thereupon.

I have &.ca [Signature illegible (M.Lewis?)]
Right H.ble Lord Geo. Lennox, Plymouth Dock.

National Archives WO 4/151 (p382)

And the Penzance officers correspondence with head office, about the events at the cove continued.

Custom House Penzance, 6th March 1794.

Honble Sirs, In obedience to your Honors orders signified to us by Mr. Hume in his Letter of the 15. Ultimo No.9.

Inclosed We beg leave to transmit your Honble Board six affidavits respecting the conduct of Mr. John Turner at Prufsias Cove within this port, on the 6.th Ultimo, for your Honors consideration and directions. 

We are &c. JS, JN

National Archives CUST 68/16, No 21/1794

Unfortunately no copies of these affidavits appear to have survived either, but whatever the extent of his involvement, John Turner had clearly tried to help the smugglers frustrate the attempted seizure of any contraband goods.[*] The suggestion that it was he who had warned the Carters of the approaching troops seems most likely – even if they could not prove it. Whoever warned the smugglers, gave them the upper hand, enabling them to prepare their resistance, and to summon help from the adjacent tin mines. The ‘Tinners’ of this neighbourhood were major customers of the smugglers, and were ever ready to get involved in any sort of a fracas with the authorities. Ever fearful of civil insurrection, Henry Dundas was not slow to commend the local militia officers for their spirited action on this occasion.

Whitehall 10th March 1794

Cap.tn Tremenheere, Sir, I have to acknowledge the favour of your Letter of the 4th of this month, giving me an account of the assistance afforded by the Penzance Volunteer Company to the Revenue officers in their Endeavours to seize & secure a very large quantity of Contraband Goods at a place called the King of Prussia’s Cove –  Their very Spirited attack of the Battery which the Smugglers had erected at that Place appears to me extremely commendable, & I shall not fail to take a proper opportunity of laying before the King this proof of their gallant Behaviour & of receiving His Majesty’s Pleasure respecting your Demand of two field pieces with the necessary ammunition for the use of the abovem.d Corps & the better Defence of that part of the Coast against H. M. Enemies foreign or domestic.

I am &c. H. Dundas

National Archives WO 43.5

The request for two field pieces shows just how earnest the Penzance volunteer militia were in having a go at the local smugglers – but the pieces were never forthcoming. That there was some sort of a clash I have no doubt, but just how serious an affair it was must remain questionable. Casualties appear to have been suspiciously low. On the ‘official’ side only one officer was significantly wounded – Thomas Rowe. That Thomas Rowe, a Custom House Tide-waiter and Boatman, was shot in the face and hideously wounded is beyond doubt – but quite who fired the gun concerned is! From the previous long report of the five inferior officers from Penzance we know that:

‘… the Military were compelled frequently to fire in their own & our defence, in one of which discharges either from the Military or the Smugglers from adjoining Windows, one of our own officers was wounded in a desperate manner, Viz. Thomas Rowe a Tidewaiter & Boatman, by being shot through the Cheek and who still lies dangerously ill,

Thomas Rowe needed extensive medical attention, the cost of which was well beyond his means, compelling him to beg the Commissioners for financial relief.

The Humble Petition of Thomas Rowe Tide Waiter and Boat Man of his Majesty’s Customs appointed in the Port of Penzance in the County of Cornwall

Sheweth, That your Petitioner on the sixth day of Feb:ry last past went with his brother Officers and the Independent Company of Penzance from thence to Prufsias Cove distant about six Miles  That your Petitioner on his approach towards the said Cove was fired on by Cannon from the Battery there   who notwithstanding continued, and on prosecuting his businefs saw about fifteen or twenty Ankers of foreign Spirituous Liquors on the Beach or shore, which he attempted to take an Account of and Seize in his Majesty’s Name, but who was prevented by a Resolute Man  who with a Number of others who were there and then afsembled with Axes and other Weapons bidding defiance to all Law, beat in the heads of the Ankers and thereby destroyed the said Liquor, and who not only prevented your Petitioner from doing his duty but afsaulting him in the execution of his Office in the most Outrageous manner, Your Petitioner was Obliged to run for the preservation of his Life when at this Instant your Petitioner received a Ball or Shot about one inch from his Mouth  which penetrated and came out behind his Ear  which brought him immediately to the Ground.  That your Petitioner was pick’d up by his Brother Officers who thinking him to be dead brought him on horseback to Marazion from whence they were obliged to Convey your Petitioner in a Carriage to Penzance by means of the Lofs of so much Blood.  That your Petitioner has been confined ever since to his Bed and Room not being able to help himself having the necefsity of two Women Nurses, and who still continue, which with a Wife and Family of six small Children your Petitioner is reduced to the utmost extremity of Penury & Distrefs.

Wherefore your Petitioner most humbly implores your Honors to take this his lamentable and distresfing Case into your tender Consideration, and Grant your Petitioner any additional Relief your Honors shall  think meet, and your humble Petitioner as in duty bound will every pray &c. 

Thomas Rowe
Dated Penzance, 10th March 1794.

We beg leave to report to your Honble Board that we believe the Contents of this Petition to be true & humbly recommend the Petitioner as an object of pity. 

JS. Collector, JN. Comp.r
Custom H.o Penzance, 12th March, 1794.

National Archives CUST 68/16, Petition not numbered

It was not that the Commissioners of Customs were totally unsympathetic about Rowe’s plight, it was just that it took such a long time to churn through the day to day business of running such a large empire. With the inevitable prioritisation of key issues and essential matters, other more mundane items slipped down the scale. True to form the Board later asked the Collector and Comptroller at Penzance for a further report on Thomas Rowe’s recovery. Eventually, well over a year after the event, and his debt to the surgeon outstanding, the Board advised the Penzance officers of their decision.

N.o 53, Custom House London, 2 June 1795 –

Gentln, Having read your report of the 15th Nov:r last on the petition of Thomas Rowe a Tidewaiter at your Port who in the execution of his duty on the 6 Feb:ry 1794 received a dangerous wound in his face from a Musquet Shot praying that the Surgeons Bills for his cure, amounting to twenty seven pounds fourteen Shillings & Six pence may be paid, and some allowance made him for his Sufferings – We direct you to tender the Sum of twenty one pounds to the Surgeons in discharge of their Bills, and which appears to be a reasonable and proper allowance for the same And to pay the Petitioner twenty Pounds for which sums the Collector may take Credit in his Account of Incidents annexing this Letter with proper Receipts thereto as Vouchers. 

W Stiles, Wm Row, TF Luttrell, A Munro

National Archives Cust 68/47, No 53/1795

Rowe never completely recovered from his wound. In December 1796, although nominally still in employment he was clearly suffering, and was again obliged to petition for some further form of relief.

Gentlemen, I am so much efflicted by reason of my wound which I received the 6th February, 94, on my Duty By a musket Ball in my Chackbone that it Renders me uncapable of doing my Duty any longer Particularly frosty weather. I can scarse suffer the Rain or keep myself up. Gentlemen I hope you will Sea it befor the Honorable Board that their Honors may take it into consideration and allow me Such Support as their Honors shall think fit too keep me off from Public Charity and your Petitioner shall in duty ever pray …

Thomas Rowe – Tidesman

National Archives 68/16, Petition not numbered

He had probably hoped to be superannuated, but this does not appear to have been forthcoming, as he was still on the establishment list in the early 1800s.

Just as the question of aid and compensation for Thomas Rowe had taken a long time to be resolved, so Captain Tremenheere’s related request for two field pieces took an age to pass through the several offices in Whitehall. Following the successful suppression of a later disturbance of the ‘tinners’ at Penzance, his request for mobile artillery was eventually declined by Lord Portland, on the grounds that it would have set an undesirable precedent.

Whitehall 18th March 1795

Cap.tn Tremenheere, Sir, The Duke of Portland has received your letters of the 11th 13th and 14th Instant, informing him of the disturbance which has taken place among the Miners in the neighbourhood of Penzance, and of the steps that have been taken to repress it. …

 But with regard to the request you make for Field Pieces, it has been found adviseable to decline it so uniformly and in so many instances that however the Duke of Portland might be desirous to comply with your application, he cannot do it without subjecting himself to complaints from other quarters where it has been refused.

I am &c.  J King

National Archives HO 43/6, pp 275-6

1796 – rumbling on

Matters lay dormant for another two years, but then in January 1796, the Giddy’s launched their final salvo at elder brother John Carter, for his part in the events at Prussia’s Cove in 1794. Their previous submissions to higher authorities not having produced any effective action against the perpetrators, nor yet any action to destroy the battery, the Giddys discharged another broadside in the hope of expediting matters. –

In Pursuance of as Act of Parliament pafsed in the twenty fourth year of the reign of King George the third intituled as Act for the more effectual Prevention of Smuggling in this Kingdom

We Edward Giddy Clerk and Davies Giddy Esquire His Majesty’s Acting Justices of the Peace of and for the County of Cornwall do hereby certify unto his Grace the Duke of Portland – One of his Majesty’s Principal Secretaries of State, that John Carter Yeoman, Thomas Bawden and James Green Labourers of the Parish of Saint Hillary stand charged before Us upon the Oath of John Julyan One of the Land Waiters in and for the Port of Penzance in the Said County, Charles Lander Tide Waiter and Boatman in and for the said port, and Simon Slade Tide Surveyor in and for the said port “with having maliciously shot at them the said John Julyan, Charles Lander and Simon Slade Officers of the Customs acting in the due execution of their duty on Shore” On the sixth day of february in the year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and ninety four As mentioned in the foregoing Informations which are hereunto Annexed and which were duly taken subscribed and sworn to by the said John Julyan, Charles Lander and Simon Slade, the twentieth day of February in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven hundred and ninety four. Given Under Our hand and Seals at Tredrea in the said County the twelfth day of January in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and ninety six

Edw: Giddy [his signature and seal], Davies Giddy [his signature and seal]

National Archives PC 1.34.90, fol 901-2

This time the Duke of Portland laid the matter before the Privy Council, and they instructed Attorney General Scott to draft an Order in Council calling for:

… the said John Carter, Thomas Bawden and James Green and each and every of them do Surrender himself and themselves within the space of Forty days after the publication of this order in the London Gazette to the Lord Chief Justice, or one other of His Majesty’s Justices of the Court of King’s Bench, or to one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace.

Failure to surrender would render them attainted felons, but John Scott advised against this action – with all due deference:

Sir, I herewith return the papers you were pleased to transmit to me, communicating my Lord Presidents Commands that I should draw an Order in Council, requiring the Surrender of John Carter & others according to the Act of the 24th year of his Majesty’s Reign.

I take leave to request that you will represent to the Lord President of the Council that, in my humble Opinion, it may be extremely worthy of Consideration whether the proposed Order should be made. If my doubt did not arise upon a point of Law, I should not presume to suggest it. The Act of the 24 Geo. 3. c 47. is highly penal: it places the Party disobeying the Order of Council, which requires him to surrender, in the same Situation, as if he had been actually convicted of the Offence. It is most obvious that such a Law as this would /or might/ opiate the extreme of Injustice, if the Order to Surrender did not follow quickly the Information given to the Magistrate. The Act exprefsly recites that its purpose is “the more easy & speedy bringing the offenders to Justice” and it requires that, when any Person is charged with the Offence before the Justice of the Peace, he shall forthwith certify the Information to the Secretary of State, who is required, as soon as conveniently may be, to lay it before his Majesty in Council, & then the Act enables his Majesty to make an Order for the Surrender of the persons charged –

I beg Leave to observe that, in the present Case, the Informations were made before the Justices on the 20th February 1794, and, instead of being forthwith certified to the Secretary of State, the Certificate is not made till the 12th January 1796. I cannot conceive that it was the Intention of this Act, when it required the Certificate to be forthwith made, to leave it in the Power of the Justices to wait two years before they made it, and, if they can be held to satisfy the Act, when it requires the Information to be forthwith certified, by certifying at the End of two years, I seen no Reason why this Certificate should not be held to be conformable to the Act, if it was made at the End of Ten Years –

The Nonobedience to the Order puts the party disobeying into the Condition, to all Intents and purposes, of an attainted Felon, liable to suffer death, without further Enquiry into the actual Circumstances of his Conduct, and it seems to me that this proceeding was directed by the Act to be speedy and to be taken forthwith after a party was charged with the Offence, becaufse it might be the most harsh Thing imaginable to make a Man a Felon for disobeying an Order, (which the Law says is to be forthwith ifsued and which therefore he must expect to see in the Gazette soon after the Charge made against him, if it is ever to be inserted therein) relative to an Information made against him, when he has, in all probability, or at least very probably, in the Course of years, removed himself from those places, where the Order is directed to be published, and where no Ship has been taken for years, in consequence of the Information lodged against him. It is in his Majesty’s discretion whether this strong Law shall be executed in Cases where the Information is forthwith transmitted to his Secretary of State: great delay in transmitting it might, if the question turned only upon discretion, make it, pofsibly, extremely fit to advise his Majesty not to execute this Law, but, as to that, I do not presume to give an Opinion. The Law however gives his Majesty the discretionary Authority where the Magistrate does forthwith certify the Information take before him, & I hope my Lord President will excuse me, if I take Leave humbly to suggest that, in Law, in my Opinion, his Majesty has not received that Information, upon which the Order in Council is to ifsue, for I cannot bring myself to think that an Information, certified two years after it is taken, is forthwith certified according to the Meaning of the Act.

I beg you will be pleased to communicate thefe Observations to the Lord President of the Council in such manner, as is most consistent with my Duty.

I do not observe that the Information charges Carter with any Circumstance of fact, which the Informants saw committed by him connected with the fact of shooting, and Bawden is only constructively chargeable with shooting Green having discharged the Gun – It may remain therefore for Consideration whether all thefe parties should be included in the Order, if, upon receiving my Lord President’s further Commands, it is necefsary to determine that. I confefs it strikes me as an extremely Strong Measure to publish such an Order upon Information certified nearly two years after they were taken.

You will pleafe to let me know my Lord President’s further Pleafure upon this Subject, returning the Dr.t of the Order, if that Pleasure makes it necefsary so to do.

I am, Sir, with much Refpect, Your most obed.t Serv.t
John Scott
Lin. Inn, Jan.y 25. 1796.
Fawkener Esq

National Archives PC 1.34.90, fol 801-6

The Attorney General’s objections to ‘Gazetting’ John Carter and his fellows seem to have seem accepted by the Privy Council. No further action appears to have been taken against them, and John, now 58, lived out his remaining years in comparative peace.

If Charles was initially imprisoned for the penalty in 1793, he does not appear to have remained in prison indefinitely. Neither does he appear to have ended his days in penury – though that might in part be due to his wife Catherinda’s wealth.

1798 onwards

During 1798-99, Francis Carter, of Rinsey – one of the ‘respectable’ brothers (or is he a cousin) – becomes embroiled with attorney Wallis about ‘the state of the cellars between his family at Trenoils.’ Perhaps the family paid the fine, because Charles appears to have been a free man in 1799, when Wallis’s journal records –

Sep. 1799 – Sat. 7th – Attended Robert Carter of Crowan, about his Exchequer cause and advising thereon &c. –

Attended Francis Carter and Henry Carter, Breage, talking over and consulting with them about a settlement of family accounts with their Brother Charles Carter who had promised also to attend this day for the purpose of a settlement, and also attended Mess.rs Grylls, Borlase & Scott thereon &c. –

Sat. 14th – Attended Charles Carter, Francis Carter and Henry Carter, endeavouring to settle a family dispute about money matters, their accounts, Money due on Mortgage &c. and also attended them to M.r Grylls thereon &c.

Charles agreed to reach a settlement at next Christmas, but the family dispute rumbled on into 1800. Wallis’s last note of these matters being made in the April.

Three years later Charles died. Aged just 46 he was buried in Breage churchyard on May 18th, 1803.

  1. The Rose as reported wrecked in Mount’s Bay in Lloyd’s List Tuesday 4th Feb 1794 but letter No 13/1794 of 13th February states that she was wrecked at Porthleven a few miles down the coats. Some indigo was salvaged from the wreck and the duty paid.
  2. Paragraph breaks have been added for clarity
  3. In this Giddy is probably referring to Richard Oxnam, a prominent Penzance merchant who died in April 1793, and was buried at Madron on the 30th of that month. He was probably the Richard Oxnam cited in an Excise cause of 1785 relating to salt frauds (E112/144). His son of the same name (1768-1844) was also a prominent local merchant who was Sherriff of Cornwall in 1810.
  4. Here he refers to Collector John Scobel who was suspended in July 1787 for a number of alleged irregularities as charged by Mr Arnold, Collector of Customs at Cowes (CUST 68/45, No 47/1787). His deputy and several inferior officers were dismissed but John Scobel was re-instated in August 1788