Smuggling integration: society in 17th and 18th century England

To what extent was smuggling integrated into society in 17th and 18th century England, with particular reference to Sussex.

Smuggling integration: society in 17th and 18th century England
To what extent was smuggling integrated into society in 17th and 18th century England, with particular reference to Sussex.

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Smuggling integration: society in 17th and 18th century England
Nature of crimes
Some crimes have always existed, whilst others are particular to certain periods in history.

How has the nature of criminal activity differed and changed over time?

Smuggling in the 18th century
Minor theft and, to a lesser extent, violent crime continued to be the main crimes committed in the 18th century. The start of the Industrial Revolution led to new crimes associated with the new forms of trade and transport. As these changes happened, lawmakers passed laws against the emerging new crimes of smuggling and highway robbery.

Smugglers, circa 1785
Smuggling is the illegal trade in goods to avoid paying customs duties and taxes. The 18th century was known as the golden age of smuggling.

It was usually organised by gangs who were funded by investors or venturers. They chose secluded parts of the coastline to land cargos from ships. There were many suitable areas along the south coast of England and west Wales, including small coves and river estuaries.

The main items smuggled in the 18th century were tea, wine, spirits and lace. In 1784 the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger, suggested that of the 13 million pounds (weight) of tea consumed in Britain, only 5.5 million had been brought in legally.

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