In 1776 the vicar of Christchurch said smuggling was
a sin. His clerk replied, "Then the Lord have mercy on
Christchurch for who is there who has not had a tub?"
The clerk's comments were equally true of most of
Dorset's coastal communities and many further inland along the distribution
routes. All sorts of people, rich and poor, purchased
contraband for their own use or were given it as a bribe to buy
their co-operation, including many vicars.
On 29 March 1777 Parson James Woodforde wrote in his
"Andrews the smuggler bought me this night
about eleven o'clock a bag of hysson tea, six pounds in
weight. He frightened us a little by whistling under the
parlour window, just as we were going to bed. I gave him some
geneva (gin), and paid him for the tea at ten and six per pound...
Even magistrates, who were supposed to uphold the
law, were involved. A lot of smuggled goods were carried
inland to Okeford Fitzpaine and Fiddleford Mill, but Magistrate
Dashwood from nearby Sturminster Newton was silenced by leaving a
keg of brandy on his doorstep overnight. Captain Bingham,
magistrate and squire of Bingham's Melcombe, was also known to
Sir Jacob Bancks, a Member of Parliament, was
discovered to have contraband hidden in the cellar of his house at
Milton Abbey. Sir Jacob refused to surrender the two enormous
barrels of fine red wine, each containing 54 gallons and known as
'hogsheads'. The barrels showed signs of salt water on the
outside and had recently been retrieved from the sea, but the
customs officer had too few men with him to seize the goods by
force. He and his team had to retreat, leaving Sir Jacob to
enjoy the fine red wine.