Arthur Gray, Royal Offences > tax offences, 20th April 1748.

Reference Number: t17480420-23
Offence: Royal Offences > tax offences
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

205. + Arthur Gray , late of Hawkhurst in the county of Kent , labourer , was indicted for that he, together with divers other malefactors, disturbers of the peace of our Sovereign Lord the King, to wit; to the number of seven persons, whose names are unknown, after the 24th of June, in the nineteenth year of his Majesty's reign, to wit, on the 13th day of August, 1746 , at the parish of Lyd, in the county of Kent , did, with fire-arms, and other offensive weapons, riotously, unlawfully, and feloniously assemble themselves together, in order to be aiding and assisting in the running, landing, and carrying away uncustomed goods, and goods liable to pay duties, which had not been paid , or secured in defiance and contempt of the King and his laws, to the evil example of all others; against the peace of the King, his crown and dignity; and against the form of the statute, in that case made and provided.

King's Coun. May it please your lordship, and you gentlemen of the jury. The Prisoner, Arthur Gray , is indicted upon an act of parliament made in the nineteenth year of his present Majesty, and which the legislature were forced to make; and the occasion of this was, a set of lawless people setting the government at defiance, and putting the people in danger of their lives; this being carried to a great height, and all the means that were used to support it proving ineffectual, the legislature made an act, whereby it is enacted, that after the 24th of June, 1746, if any persons, to the number of three or more, armed with fire-arms, shall assemble themselves together, in order to be aiding and assisting in running, landing, and carrying away uncustomed goods, they shall be guilty of felony, without benefit of the clergy; and there

was another necessary provision in this act; (this practice was got to such a height, that the magistrates dared not to put the laws in execution) and it is enacted, that the offenders may be tried in other countries, that the magistrates and other juries might not be afraid of putting the laws in execution. The Prisoner at the bar, as you will hear from the witnesses, has made himself extremely famous in this way; there is a gang called the Hawkhurst gang, which have been a terror to the neighbourhood, and he has been the principal leader in this gang. This is an offence committed on the 13th of August, 1746, and it will be proved to you, that he, together with several others, to the number of eight, nine, or ten, armed with carbines, and other offensive weapons, went to the sea-side and landed tea, which they put into oil-skin bags, and put them over the horses backs in canvas bags; and this is their constant way of running this tea; but tea legally brought, is never brought in these sort of bags, and the witnesses could not possibly mistake the Prisoner; he was so very well known in that country, and they saw him leading and driving fourteen or fifteen horses. Here are several witnesses to these facts, which cannot be contradicted, and I believe it will appear to you, that it is very happy that he is likely to be brought to justice. Call John Pelham .

John Pelham sworn.

Q. Look at the Prisoner, do you know him?

Pelham. Yes.

Q. What is his name?

Pelham. Arthur Gray .

Q. Did you ever see him concerned in running and landing uncustomed goods?

Pelham. I was a fishing, and saw him on the 13th of March 1746: I saw him between Denny Marsh and Jeuscut.

Q. How many persons were there?

Pelham. To the number of eight or nine; there were that number I am positive.

Q. What time was it?

Pelham. Between four and five in the morning.

Q. In what manner did he appear?

Pelham. The Prisoner was armed with a blunderbuss or a carbine.

Q. Had he pistols?

Pelham. I did not see any pistols, but holsters I saw.

Q. Were the others armed that were with him?

Pelham. They were all armed.

Q. To what purpose were they assembled?

Pelham. In order to the running of goods.

Q. What did you see them do?

Pelham. I saw them load the horses with casks and oil-skin bags.

Q. How many horses might they lead?

Pelham. I believe there might be fourteen or fifteen.

Q. I suppose you was not curious enough to examine what was in the oil-skin bags?

Pelham. No.

Q. What do you think was in those bags?

Pelham. Tea. That is the way of running tea.

Q. What do you apprehend was in the casks?

Pelham. Uncustomed brandy.

Q. What place did they go to afterwards?

Pelham. I saw the Prisoner and them going all together towards Lyd.

Q. Are you sure the Prisoner was there?

Pelham. I am certain he was.

Q. Did you see any vessel along the shore?

Pelham. Yes.

Q. What size was the vessel of?

Pelham. I am not certain what size, but I believe it was about forty tons.

Q. Did you go by the vessel before these goods were put on shore?

Pehlam. I cannot say that.

Q. Can you tell what goods there were on shore then?

Pelham. I cannot tell.

Q. Did you see the goods before they were put upon the horses backs?

Pelham. I saw the goods both before and after they were put upon the horses backs.

Q. Do you live in Kent?

Pelham. Yes; I was born and bred there.

Q. What is the general package of these goods?

Pelham. In oil-skin bags.

Q. Are you able to say what was in these bags from your own inspection?

Pelham. I was not near enough to see that.

Q. Were these fourteen or fifteen horses all drove or rode upon?

Pelham. Some were rode on and some were drove.

Q. Did you see any goods taken out of the vessel?

Pelham. I cannot say I did.

Pris. Coun. on cross examination. How near was you to the place where you saw these goods loading?

Pelham. About twenty rods.

Q. Can you say the Prisoner was among them?

Pelham. Yes, because the Prisoner rode by me as near as I am to that gentleman. [meaning my Lord Chief Justice.]

Q. Was the Prisoner armed?

Pelham. They were all armed.

Q. How do you know that this was on the 13th of August?

Pelham. Because when we sell our fish, we set down the day of the month.

Q. Have you your book here?

Pelham. No.

Q. What do you always make memorandums when you go a fishing?

Pelham. Yes, and this was the last day I went a fishing.

Q. Did you make any memorandum of seeing the Prisoner in this act that you speak of?

Pelham. No.

Q. What is the reason of your remembering this then?

Pelham. Because it was the last day I went a fishing.

Q. When did you discover this?

Pelham. Last Sessions.

Q. Why did you not do this before?

Pelham. I did not know it.

Q. You must know this before. How came you to keep this a secret for a year and a half? did not you think it your duty to give an account of this to a Magistrate as soon you knew it?

Pelham. Yes, but I had no opportunity, for I could not get any body to take my information.

Q. Do you set down every time you go a fishing, or only the last day?

Pelham. Every day.

Sol. Gen. Have you any doubt of your seeing the Prisoner when you saw this gang?

Pelham. I am very certain of it.

Q. Do you think it was usual, in this year 1746, for people to go directly to a Magistrate, and give an information?

Pelham. No, if they did, they would have enough to do.

Q. How many gangs have you seen?

Pelham. Forty to be sure.

Prisoner. What clothes had I on?

Pelham. Such a frock as you have now; I cannot say it was exactly the same colour.

Prisoner. I have not wore a frock these five years. What wig had I on?

Pelham. A light wig.

Prisoner. You never saw me there.

Humphry Haddon sworn.

Q. Do you know the Prisoner?

Haddon. Yes; I have seen him many a time.

Q. How did you come to know the Prisoner?

Haddon. I lived a servant at the George Inn in Lyd.

Q. Can you mention any particular time when you saw the Prisoner?

Haddon. Yes; on the 13th of August, 1746, I saw him with seven or eight more, and there were fourteen or fifteen horses.

Q. Were the horses loaded?

Haddon. Yes.

Q. What did you take them to be loaded with?

Haddon. With tea and brandy.

Q. Why did you take it to be so?

Haddon. Because it was the way they used to bring the tea and brandy; I have helped them down with it many a time?

Q. Was the Prisoner armed?

Haddon. He had a blunderbuss on his shoulder.

Q. What time of the year was this?

Haddon. I was driving a load of corn in a team, and was forced to go out of the way for them, and I think they went farther into the country.

Q. I suppose you are always very civil to them, and give them the way?

Haddon. We are forced to it.

Q. What time was this?

Haddon. Between six and seven in the morning, as near as I can guess.

Q. Was it the first or the last time of carrying in corn that year?

Haddon. The first time.

Q. How far is Lyd from the shore?

Haddon. It is computed to be three miles from the Marsh Gut at the shore.

Pris. Coun. on the cross examination. Are you sure this was not in July?

Haddon. I am sure it was not, the corn was all out then.

Q. Do you remember the day of the week?

Haddon. No.

Q. Who did you live with?

Haddon. I lived with Thomas Coats , at the George Inn in Lyd.

Q. Did Gray use to come there?

Haddon. Yes, he brought goods and laid them down while they baited their horses.

John Polhill sworn.

Q. What are you?

Polhill. I am a riding officer.

Q. Then it is your business to look out for the smugglers, give the Court an account when you saw any smugglers.

Polhill. On the 13th of August, 1746, I saw a gang of smugglers go through Lyd.

Q. Which way did they go?

Polhill. I think they went further up into the country.

Q. Did you see their faces?

Polhill. No, I did not.

Q. How do you know it was the 13th of August?

Polhill. Because we minute it.

Q. What time was it?

Polhill. I think it was between six and seven in the morning; they came from the sea towards Lyd.

Sol. Gen. My Lord, we rest it here.

Prisoner. I have not been at Lyd these three years; both these fellows, before they woul d go to work, would take any man's life away for any thing.

Sol. Gen. The Prisoner put off his trial last Session, upon an affidavit, that William Bishop and Samel Territ were material witnesses for him, and could not be here then.

Guilty Death .


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