Times report of naval officer killed by smugglers in Cornwall in 1785

The Times of London for Friday the 14th of October 1785.

On Thursday night last the “Happy-Go-Lucky”, Lug Sail Shallop, and the “Stag” cutter, both smuggling vessels belonging to Cawsand came on the coast from Guernsey, and had begun to land their cargoes to the west of the Ram[e] Head when the “Pylades” boat being out, discovered and rowed towards them; there were two midshipmen and five sailors in the boat; one of the midshipmen boarded the “Stag” cutter but being discovered by a man on the top-sail-yard, he gave the alarm which roused the smugglers below when immediately a man came upon deck with a blunderbuss, upon which he fired a musket at him, the contents of which lodged in his body, and he dropped. This man is supposed to be the captain.

The smugglers then fired into the “Pylades” boat; killed one of them broke another's arm, and wounded a third in the back. The general cry of the smugglers was “Kill them all, don’t let one go ashore to tell their story.” Both the smugglers vessels then went off and unloaded the rest of their cargoes to the westward.

This stag cutter was the “Brilliant” revenue vessel commanded by Harry Jones, and mounted 18 carriage guns in the last war, and was sold to the Cawsand smuggler who for a number of years have bought up the vessels condemned as unfit for the Revenue Service; for what end, it is easy to guess a few dragoons quartered round the country, viz at Crofthole, Millbrook, Cawsand, Kingsand, Maker, etc, will put an end to this business. The Brandy Merchants Scheme has by no means put a stop to smuggling; for it is a truth that at this time there are more goods run on the coast of Cornwall and the North of Devon than ever; and the first great scheme of storing all seizures of small casks into large ones of 63 gallons each has been one great cause of this measure in smuggling, as housekeepers and small victualers used to furnish themselves at the custom house sales; but now these large casks are beyond their purses.

Last week his Majesty’s ship “Fairy”, Captain Thomas, arrived in the Sound with 2 Luggers her prizes laden with spirits. These make up the number of 15 smugglers the “Fairy” has taken this summer. In the whole during her station in these seas she has taken 19 smugglers. She is very properly called the smugglers scourge and the activity of her officers and crew has been the occasion of the false reports concerning her being siezed at Falmouth.

Cornwall Smugglers and Smuggling