Deal, 9 July 1826

Below is another transcription of Edward Horn’s evidence against the Aldington Gang members:

As to the Felonious Assembly at Deal on the 9th July — Edward Horn states that on Saturday the 8th July he and his Brother John started from Ransley’s House in a Cart between 8 and 9 in the forenoon accompanied by Ransley and his Son George in another Cart for a look out for Goods. Samuel Bailey and William Smeed had gone forward on the Road leading to Hythe along by the Canal. The Carts overtook them about a quarter of a mile before they reached West Hythe Bridge (There is a Soldier of the Staff Corps stationed at each Bridge over the Canal to take care of the Bridge but these Soldiers never interfere with the Parties and generally receive a few Shillings from Ransley as silence money.) At this Bridge Smeed got into Ransley’s Cart and Bailey into that of John Horn.  Both Carts then drove on until they came to a Public House near the Bridge where they stopped and Ransley sent his Boy in for Beer which they drank in the Road.  The Publican’s name is Jarman.

Ransley then drove his Cart on – through Hythe followed at some distance by Horn’s Cart, Ransley going through the Town and the other Cart by the back part of the Town. The Carts rejoined on the Road between Hythe and Sandgate and continued together through the Turnpike at Sandgate, Ransley paying for both the Carts. They drove on together till near Folkestone where Samuel Bailey and William Smeed got out of the Carts and went towards Folkestone. Ransley went off in his Cart to the left saying he was going to the White Horse having previously told Bailey and Smeed when they got out of the Carts to meet him there where according to the best of the Examinant’s recollection the rest of the Party were to be. Examinant and his brother continued on along the Road till they got to Dover and there put up their Horse at the Red Cow.  After waiting there about three hours they were joined by Thomas Piety from Ashford in his Cart with his son Thomas.

When Ransley turned off to the White Horse he directed John Horn to meet him on the other side of Mr Stringer’s House through Whitfield Gate at 10 o’clock that night, accordingly between 8 and 9 Examinant and his Brother, Piety and his son, left Dover in the two Carts and proceeded on the Canterbury Road about three Miles then turned to the right through Whitfield Turnpike Gate and past Mr Stringer’s House a short distance which they fell in with Ransley, James Hogben of Hawkinge and about 50 or 60 Men of whom there were upwards of a dozen armed.  There was also James Quested in a Cart and another Cart with the name of John Cannon on it and he believed the arms had been brought in Quested’s Cart – five Carts in the whole.  The men were then mustered either by Ransley, Bailey or Hogben – amongst the armed Men of this Party were James Smeed, William Smeed, Thomas Gillham, Thomas Denard, Thomas Winder, Paul Pierce, James Hogben of Bilsington, Edward Pantery and to the best of his recollection Richard Wire and he believes four from Dymchurch of whom he has little knowledge.

The Party then made their way for Deal over Sutton Common but the Road being strange to him he cannot describe the Places through which they passed.  They did not pass through any Turnpike after Whitfield Gate and when they got within about two miles from Deal they left the Carts with their owners on a spot near a Church a Gentleman’s House and a Shrubbery and proceeding across the fields towards Deal they had the Mill on their left and the Barracks on their right – and when they got near to Deal they lay down by a Quickset Hedge along a footpath within 10 or a dozen roods of the Turnpike Road and facing the passage leading to the Sea between the Dockyard and Deal Castle.  They waited there while Ransley and another man (a Stranger from either Deal or Walmer) went forward to the Beach.  In about twenty Minutes upon a signal from one of those two they all jumped up and ran along the passage to the full of the Beach where a Boat was waiting for them.

It was at this time past midnight – The armed party were then divided and put on the East and West sides of the working party. Examinant was on the East side – Denard, Hogben of Bilsington and several others whom he don’t recollect were on the same side – as soon as the Boat began to work a Blockade man came up from the East and fired off his Pistol – upon which the Fire was returned by some of the left Division but by whom he does not know – he thinks two or three shots were fired in the whole – That while the Boat was working he observed a Boat out at Sea and thinking it was a Revenue Galley Examinant called out to the Smuggling Boat to shove off – but the Boat did not shove off till all the Tubs were out of her.  They secured all but one Tub which he heard Ransley on their Road back say he saw floating in the water. They made off with this Cargo and after they had crossed the Turnpike Road a Man looked out a Chamber Window and said good night and good luck but observing the armed men following the Working Party he called out if you don’t stop I’ll blow your Brains out on which one of the Scouts (to the best of his Recollection William Smeed) said if you don’t put your head in you’ll have your brains blown out and after they had got up by the Windmill Seed told Examinant that if the man had not put his head in he would have shot him. Examinant heard the man’s wife screaming out while he was talking to the Party.

That while on the Beach Examinant saw a Blockade Man at two different times but whether it was the same man on both occasions he cannot say – he saw no other nor did any other follow the Party down the Passage nor was any shot fired to the best of his Recollection at the Smugglers after they quitted the Passage but he believed there might be some signal firing along the Beach.  They returned with the Tubs by the same way they had come to the spot where they had left the Carts.  On reaching the Carts the Tubs were counted, there were about 100 or rather more – and they were distributed amongst the five Carts. While the Tubs were being counted the armed Party were stationed along the Road to prevent interruptions. When the Tubs had been put into the Carts most of the Party dispersed but Examinant and James Smeed accompanied the Carts with their arms.

The five carts then proceeded by Waldershare Park Shepherd’s Well (meaning Sibertswold) into the Road leading from Dover to Canterbury and bearing on their right hand they crossed into the Folkestone Road by Wootton and Living Field Minnis and at one end of the Minnis (or Common) that nearest Canterbury they stopped again for Refreshment and got some Beer without going into the House.  It was then early in the morning about 6 and the Publican was up and came out to them. They stopped to rest about 10 minutes and then they proceeded on toward Elham leaving that place and Liminge to the right and Paddleworth or Paulsworth to the left – and got into the Road leading from Elham to Sellinge at Farthing Common.  There they were stopped by a man who told them there had been about forty soldiers waiting below the Hill and had been gone about an hour – on which they turned to the right to Stouting where they got some Beer at a Public House for which Examinant went into the House. They then proceeded to Braybourne Street and stopped at the Five Bells kept by one Leggett and there got some Beer and some Gin, the woman of the House supplied it.  Several persons were in the House and saw them.

They then went on to Ridgeway where they got some more Beer and Gin and here Piety and his Tom in their Cart went off to Ashford and the other four Carts continued on to Smeeth Church where Examinant and his Brother turned off in their Cart through Mersham Street by Broad Oak to the Chequer Tree where Examinant got out of the Cart and walked across the Fields home to Ruckinge.  The public house at Ridgeway kept by one Godden. Ransley paid him for this work 25/.   Note — The Party of Soldiers was waiting with Mr Mayor and Excise Officers at Folkestone who had received Information of the matter.

8th July — On returning from Deal on Sunday morning the 9th July they stopped at Shepherd’s Well (Sibertswold) for their allowance.  It was a small public House they called up the Landlord and his wife the latter came down as they were leaving it. They got Beer, Bread and Cheese and as they left it each had a Glass of Spirit.  Ransley paid for it. They crossed the Canterbury Road near the Half way House which the left on the right hand and proceeded – they stopped again at a small public house on Living Field Minnis and got Beer.

9th July Deal — On going down to the Beach after they had left the Carts they passed a Gentleman’s House at Middle Deal at the Door of which two men Servants were standing with a light.  The first man they saw on the Beach ran away.  At the Beach he recollects seeing Ransley, Denard, James Hogben of Bilsington, James Smeed and Gillham.  He is sure all the Company except those left with the Carts went down to the Beach.  Samuel Bailey was stationed in the Road with a Gun to keep a look out where the Boat was worked.  He saw William Smeed just as they left the Beach.

On their return they stopped at Shepperd’s Well and saw the publican and his wife. While they were calling the publican up a Man like a Shepherd came out of a House just by and saw them.  He had a Crook and a Dog with him and passed by the Public House. They stopped again at Living Field Minnis and got Beer at the Half way House between Canterbury and Folkestone.  The Publican was up and several people round the House.  Hogben of Hawkinge was there with the Company who must have been known to the Publican and to the best of Examinant’s Recollection one of the Person’s present asked Hogben if he had had pretty good luck that night.  The Carts were waiting in the Road and he thinks the Landlord came out to them.  The place w[h]ere the man told them the Soldiers had been waiting for them was at the upper end of Rokeby Park and he thinks the Man came from a small House just within the Park a short distance from the Gate. He appeared to come from that way.

Examinant and James Smeed had been walking on before the Carts and when they came to the Trees at the Park Examinant observed foot marks in the Road (it being wet) where many Persons had been standing under the Trees and when the Carts got up to the Gate the man told them the Soldiers had been waiting and Ransley or one of the Party said the man had told them he had been detained by the Soldiers for two or three hours.  There was a Gun in each of Ransley’s, Horn’s and Piety’s Carts which were thereupon throw out over the Hedge into a Field and these Guns as Examinant afterwards was informed were taken down the same night to Ransley’s House. Not being near the man Examinant can’t describe his Person.

At Stouting Examinant got a Gallon of Beer from the publican while the Carts were waiting near the House for which Ransley gave him the money to pay.  There were 3 or 4 people in the House.  After leaving this House a few Rods a man on Horseback came out of a field.  This man as Ransley afterwards said belonged to the water farm of Braybourn.  Ransley enquired of him whether he had come on the Road from Braybourn whether he had seen any Soldiers adding that he had learned some Soldiers had been waiting.  The man answered he had not seen any Soldiers but that he was going back to Leggetts, the Public House at Braybourn and would enquire there and if there had been any Body he would ride back.

Before they got to Leggetts they met another man named Thomas Rolfe of Braybourn to whom Ransley spoke but Examinant did not hear what passed.  The stopped at Leggett the 5 Bells.  The woman of the House and 5 or 6 persons came to the Door one of them a man was an acquaintance of Ransley’s.  The man of the water farm continued on the Road before the Carts nearly to Ridgeway and made Enquiry on the Road and came back to let them know he could not learn any Thing about the Soldiers.  They parted with this man on Brabourn Lees.  He road [sic] a brown horse with a short switch tail and Examinant thinks he had a fustian Coat with on open frock over it.  He is not aware that Ransley paid this man any thing.  Examinant did not know his Name. Ransley said he was the man of the Water Farm.  Shortly after parting with this man they got to Godden’s at Ridgeway where they got some Beer.  It was a very wet morning.  A great deal of Conversation passed between Godden and Ransely about the Run.  Ransely asked Godden if he wanted anything in his way any Tubs.  Godden answered no – he expected one to come in that night or he would have taken one.  On leaving this house Piety parted with them turning to the right.


Access to Archives Reference: Depositions Regarding Smuggling, Edward Horn, U951/C27/6, 9 July 1826, Assembly at Deal, held at Centre for Kentish Studies



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