The Seventeenth-Century Customs Service Surveyed: William by William B. Stephens

By William B. Stephens

In January 1682, William Culliford, a devoted and skilled officer within the King's customs provider, begun a unprecedented trip lower than Treasury orders to enquire the integrity and potency of the customs institutions of southwest England and south Wales as a part of a force to maximise the Crown's source of revenue from customs tasks (on which it relied for far of its revenue). beginning at Bristol, Culliford finally accomplished this daunting activity in Cornwall over years later within the spring of 1684. His document on all of the ports he inspected (the basic resource for this ebook) published frequent smuggling and fraud within the context of a customs carrier either missing in potency and riddled with corruption. The booklet files the various frauds and wide-ranging abuses exposed and their facilitation by way of customs officials basically too able to collude with smugglers, cheating retailers and seamen and to simply accept bribes to disregard tax evasion. It describes, too, Culliford's review of the executive practices of every port inspected and his judgment at the degrees of probity and potency of person officials, detailing his suggestions for procedural advancements and the therapy of the corrupt and incompetent and, by the way, of these suspected of political and non secular dissent. also, the publication provides a physique of statistical info at the customs profit really gathered at person ports within the 1670s and 1680s and surveys the level and nature of the maritime exchange of the ports Culliford tested. It hence not just throws gentle at the background of the customs carrier, yet presents an extraordinary perception into the interactions of monetary, social and political concerns within the later 17th century, and makes a precious contribution to the actual histories of the ports and maritime districts visited by way of this vigorous and tenacious investigator.

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Extra info for The Seventeenth-Century Customs Service Surveyed: William Culliford’s Investigation of the Western Ports, 1682-84

Example text

As already noted, French goods accounted for a substantial proportion of English trade, particularly that of the West Country ports, and its banning marked a considerable disruption of normal commercial activity. 105 The prohibition was unpopular, too, with customs officers, since, if goods which otherwise would have been imported legally were smuggled, fee income was lost. C. , xxxv (1982), 354–8; A. , ix (1929), 81. 101 See Appendix II. B. Stephens, Seventeenth-Century Exeter: A study of industrial and commercial development, 1625–1688 (Exeter, 1958), 114, 175.

Freeman, Dartmouth: A new history of the port and its people (Dartmouth, 1983), 67, 70–1, 75; P. Russell, Dartmouth (1950), 105–6. P. Chope, ‘Customs establishment in Devon and Cornwall’, D&CN&Q xv (1928–9), 166. 168; CTB VI, 595, 596, 626, 698, 810; M. 47 After the collectors, the most important and highest paid of these executive officers were the surveyors, in the larger ports distinguished as landsurveyors or tidesurveyors. The latter boarded ships arriving in port and, after ships’ masters had declared their cargoes on oath, appointed tidewaiters and boatmen to inspect the vessels for hidden goods and to guard them until they unloaded at a legal quay under the supervision of landsurveyors and their subordinate landwaiters.

Only where physical violence was involved was imprisonment usual. 122 Prosecuted offenders were tried in the magistrates’ or assize courts or more often in the Exchequer Court, the traditional place for cases involving royal revenue. 124 Assize courts, too, were quite likely to side with the smuggler. 125 But even there the odds were often felt to be stacked against the prosecution. 128 One man who was so rewarded by Culliford was the serial smuggler Richard Upton whose confession is detailed below.

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